Tuesday 21 May 2024

Swanley Bridge Marina

Today's Canals : Chester, Llangollen

Our main aim today was to get to Swanley Bridge Marina im time for a meeting we had arranged with Sally and the other specialists who will be working on our boat over the next few weeks. It was not far but wanted to avoid any rush whilst waiting until the volunteer lockies were on duty to help!

When we arrived both of the lockies were at the top of the flight completing the transit of an earlier boat that had also moored last night at the junction. We started up on our own but by the time we were almost through the first lo ck they came to help us and so Christine was able to steer directly from one lock into the next without having to wait in the short intermediate pounds. We were also well ahead of any downhill traffic so no complications with passing in the pounds. The two volunteers were very pleasant and chatty, giving us real help such that we were up and through in under 40 minutes.

No photos of the flight as it was still a grey morning - even though it started to brighten up as we arrived at the top and turned remarkably warm later on. Just above the top lock is the weir where the flow from the cdanal enters Hurleston Reservoir. This facility is important as the principal source of water supplies to Crewe and the surrounding area. In a way it is also important to boaters: without this strategic role it is quite possible that the canal would have closed in the dark ages for canals bur fortunately has survived and is now one of the most visited  canals on the network.

At Bridge 2 there is an unusual wooden structure added to the towpath underneath the bridger. This was not here two years ago when we last visited - we think it may be a response to too many boats hitting the coping stones and pushing them into the water but we have not seen anything to this effect. Hopefully it is only 'temporary' and will, eventually be replaced by a less intrusive solution.

Just before the marina entrance is a small wharf that is home to Ruth and Richard Chamberlain's fuel boats, including the well known butty called Jellicoe. They have been trading for some years now and a familiar sight to those who live on this and nearby canals. It seems from their website that they are branching out into gifts and chandlery as well.

There are plenty of attractive houses in this rural area - this one has a distinctive chimney!

Soon we reached the entrance to the marina and we paused on the service wharf whilst Christine could pop to the office. We had booked in for tomorrow night (handover day is Thursday when the boat is to be taken out of the water) but on the way we felt that, if possible, we would like to go on a day earlier to give us more time to do whatever sorting out was needed in preparation. Fortunately the space was available and we went straight in - no wind so it was much easier than on some occasions when we have been here! Like almost all marinas, they are an open invitation for any passing wind to set boaters impossible challenges when manoeuvring onto a pontoon!

At 2 o'clock we walked across to Willow Boats where we met with Sally and Martin and Danny, the main poeple involved. We had a good chat through some of the additional items we would like to have done whilst the boat is out of action and out of the water. 

2.1 Miles - 4 Locks

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