Monday 13 May 2024


Today's Canals - Shropshire Union, Chester

Although last night's forecast thunderstorm bypassed just a little to the west with only a little rain, today turned very much cooler, almost 10C less than yesterday. In addition, the sky was generally grey, even blackish at times. We needed extra layers at times.

We were away in good time (even if it was around three hours after we first woke up!) Our overnight mooring was just the other side of the former bridge hole in this photo which also shows how the day looked almost throughout.

Just after passing under the railway bridge at Baddington Railway Bridge we could see in the adjacent field what appeared to be old earthworks. Were these the remains of yet another long lost railway line or perhaps a stone age town. So far all that we have been able to discover is that on the OS map it shows 'Moat' and a circular earth working. 

We crossed that aqueduct yet again! Although the canal was quite busy we were surprised at just how many free spaces there were on and around Nantwich Embankment (the main part was all but full although a boat close ahead of us managed to squeeze for a shopping trip)

Some people have commented that the horse alongside the start of what was once known as the Chester Canal was looking a little tired. We might, however, say that he is carrying his age very well and looks fighting fit! (By our standards anyway)

We had time to take a photo of Hurleston Junction this time - one boat was half way up but the flight was not at all busy. We could not see any volunteers on duty today but a group of construction workers had a van beside the locks as they were work on a structure embedded into the reservoir close by.

Beside Bridge 98 is a collection of smart houses, we presume that they developed out of the farm that was once part of Stoke Manor. The newish bungalow has recently been sold. For a long time all the gardens here have looked immaculate, even if largely extensive lawns. It was on the market for £735K.

As we neared Barbridge Junction we could see activity ahead ad it looked as if there was someone in  the water. We approached very cautiously in case there was something amiss but as we passed by we could see that the team were putting bags of something onto the bed of the canal around the metalwork that looks like that used to create a dam - but until it is much longer it will not be holding out very much! We asked if there was a leak and were told not but we could not catch what they said it was. If there is a stoppage notice we have missed it and there were no warning signs on the canal approach. (Not sure that CaRT's H&S officer would be too pleased . . .)

A flower planter at the junction commemorates Paul Mills who died in 2017. He was a long standing leading light in the Shropshire Union Canal Society and did much to establish all the excellent moorings which are a feature of this canal.

Finally we passed the junction bridge and continued straight ahead towards Chester.

The services at Calveley were in strong demand - one boat was hovering until a space became free but the strong wind was causing them some difficulty in keeping station. We passed them with some caution!

Around mid day we arrived at the top of the Bunbury Staircase. We had a little wait as a single hander was just coming up having done the Bunbury Shuffle with a couple of workboats going down.

Our freezer has been a bit erratic in the last week and Christine was keen to see if we could find someone to take a look at it. On the way here she called Anglo Welsh here at Bunbury and they helpfully said that we could pull in and they would take a look. The initial 'ten minutes' wait stretched to around an hour during which we had our lunch. Eventually a very cheerful engineer arrived and started to take a look. He identified the power leads but could only just reach them under the dinette. We turned on the power and immediately the internal walls started to freeze over! It is possible that he moved a loose wire back into place or it may be something more sinister but there was little more that could be done right away - they had four boats to send out this afternoon so were fairly busy. He very helpfully said that if we had any further problem then we were welcome to call and arrange to come back on our return from Chester!

We moved on, arriving at Tilstone Lock as a boat was just entering from below so we had to wait for them to ascend before we could enter. There was a steady stream of boats coming towards us, both before and after the lock so we wondered about how easy it would be to find a mooring very soon. In the end, the visitor mooring above the net lock, Beeston Stone, was entirely empty but for a couple of anglers.

On the opposite bank we could again see signs of older earth workings. Eventually we managed to find an old map that described them as a sand pit. The next lock Beeston Iron Lock, is so called because the original builders found that the stone work they first used kept collapsing as the soil was too sandy. Eventually it was replaced by a lock made of interlocking iron plates.

9.8 Miles - 3 Locks

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