Wednesday 15 May 2024


Today's Canal : Chester (aka Shropshire Union)

The day started overcast but dry with dire warnings on the weather forecast for rain most of the morning. In the end, apart from 10 seconds of rain drops the day remained dry and the afternoon was reasonably pleasant even if the sun was a bit too shy.

As this photo shows, the canal landscape was quite green even in the dull light. 

We had a quiet cruise for about half an hour to moor just before Egg Bridge in Waverton. The sign was somewhat ambiguous with a mention of mooring for work boats but it did not imply exclusivity nor were there any imminent work boats - we saw the main team positioning itself a couple of days back closer to Beeston.

The reason we wanted to stop here for a short time was to visit the village shop and also a pharmacy. Christine was keen to chat to a pharmacist about the recommended pain killer regime for her bashed ribs. Both were only five minutes away from the canal. Both visits were successful!

A commemorative plaque on the bridge says that it was originally built in 1770 - the canal itself opened to traffic through to Nantwich around 1779. It seems somewhat strange in hindsight and knowledge of how transportation later developed, but it seems that most canals started to carry local traffic as soon as water was available. For some time, much of the traffic remained local and only later fulfilled their investors' ambitions for long distance transport. The original bridge would likely have looked like most of the other accommodation bridges and only took on it present visual character when re-bult for the growing road transport.

As we started to pass the modern housing developments of Christleton, we were reminded of a blog entry two years ago. The imaginative dreams of the developer remain intact but it seems that reality remains as far away as ever!

With a load of washing in the machine we really did need to replenish our tank that was now distinctly below the halfway level on the gauge. Alas, another boat had just pulled in as so we had quite a wait before we could hook up our hose to the tap. Two years ago we also watched a team starting to demolish as rather dilapidated pub, justs the other side of this bridge. A smart replacement is now in place and open for business. Alas, it focussing on the water point we missed the photo opportunity!

Just after mid day we started on the five locks into Chester. Only five but they are less than easy! The first, Christleton, only had one top paddle operational and all had very leaky gates. This meant that it took some time before we could make a level and be able to open a gate. Only good point was that the boat ahead of us at the water point had kindly back set this lock for us.

The lock landings below the locks are miniscule and not easy to access so Mike was 'forced' by the steerer to walk between nearly all of the flight!

As we were about to open the bottom gates at Greenfield Lock, one of the crew on a boat behind asked if they could share the next lock as they were fast approaching.

Tarvin Lock and its cottage are rather attractive as well as the unusual round hut. What the photo does not show is the effort needed to open and shut gates!

Below the next lock we took advantage of a short set of mooring bollards (we have stayed here overnight in the past - OK despite being next to a pub) but this time just to have lunch.

Just before we were ready to leave a wide beam boat passed on its way down. When we caught up with them at Chemistry Lock we heard that they are planning on going to Ellesmere Port and from down onto the Ship Canal and then to Northwich.

A little further and we again admired this row of industrial workers' terraced housing. We have not yet found a source for information about its origins but looking at old maps we see that the group of terraces is squeezed in to a triangular site bounded by the canal to the south, a railway line to the north and then, to the west, a Lead Works. This once manufactured lead shot with the shot tower the only part of the works still remaining. Much has already been developed as housing and the last part has a sign saying that a McCarthy and Stone project is about to start to fill it. Our best intuition (which may well be wrong) is that the terraces were built for lead workers.

Just before the last lock still stands the water tower that formed part of a major public health project in the mid 19C to replace the previous water supply that had become contaminated.

After the last lock we had a shirt run into the centre of Chester. The first three mooring points marked on our maps are a little alarming as they only take one boat apiece and were all full! Were we going to be stranded for the night? (We have had this unfounded fear before!) At this point the next 48hr Visitor Mooring is out of sight but eventually we could see that it was entirely empty and we could choose just which rings to tie to! Our plan at the moment is t5o make use of most of those 48 hours as possible before heading back the way we have just come.

4.9 Miles - 5 Locks

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