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After thirty years of hiring, I finally bought my own 50ft boat in 2005, which was built in 2001 by Andicraft at Debdale Wharf. I mostly cruise single handed and have no problem with that, although it does take a little longer than with a crew. My mooring is on the Wey Navigation, so I have a choice of routes on the Wey or the Thames.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Grand Canal Tour 2014. Anderton Boat Lift and Weaver.

I managed to catch up another boat heading out of the city the following morning, so that I could share the locks with them. Although they stopped off to shop another one came along shortly, so I shared all the double locks as far as The Shady Oak, where I found a convenient shady mooring to stop for the night. There is a thirty something woman on the boat moored in front who is going through a money/man crisis, which is being broadcast by mobile phone to all on the towpath. She is now on her fourth glass of white wine, or maybe more and the conversations are getting so embarrassing, I think I will have to go to the pub!

Well, despite her recommendations, I was not impressed; the first pint was suspect as being on the turn and the second sort of OK. The furnishings were quaint and rather untidy and I did not sample the food, so overall, not the sort of pub that I would recommend.

I discovered that the BBC crew were approaching Barbridge Junction the following day, so it may be possible to join them there at the Olde Barbridge Inn, which I eventually managed to do. Now here is a pub well worth mentioning; not only do they serve Woodland ales, brewed just down the road, but the food is excellent and imaginative and served by attractive young barmaids very quickly. Could one ask for anything more from a pub at the water’s edge, with ample moorings?
Ray, Terry, Chris and Mick. (pic by Suzanne Wilson).
We set off together along the Middlewich Arm of the Shroppie as far as Church Minshull and moored there for the night. Terry and I went off to The Badger Inn, in the village and had a couple of good pints there, before getting soaked on the way back.

After pulling the pins the following morning, I arrived at Stanthorne Lock to find a queue of four boats in front of me, so that took a while. Whereas, at Wardle Lock there were only two boats waiting. Maybe the other boats had moored up. Turning north now, there were only three single locks ahead, before Middlewich Big Lock, which I was surprised to see was a double lock. It appears that it was built that way to allow wide salt barges to get as far as Middlewich from the River Weaver to serve the salt trade, which is very big in this area. Wich, meaning salt in times gone by.

It was now lock free all the way to Anderton, where the famous Anderton Boat Lift tranships boats up and down the fifty feet to and from the River Weaver. I remember very well as a boy of about 8yrs old, seeing a photograph of the Anderton Lift on the front cover of Meccano Magazine and being very impressed by the engineering, even at so young an age. It has taken me 70yrs to realise the dream of actually seeing it and then experiencing using it. Needless to say, it was quite an emotional moment.

The Canal Cathedral - Anderton Boat Lift from the R Weaver.

Moving into the short aqueduct...........

........and then into the caisson.

The caisson is supported on one 3ft diam. hydraulic ram.
Cranley emerges from the caisson onto the River Weaver.

I was too late to book a passage that night, but managed to get a 10am one the following morning, so I was the first that day, along with another boat. I managed to get a temporary mooring at the bottom of the lift to photograph Barleytwist and Cranley making their exits after mine. We turned right in the direction of the Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal, even though it is now a dead end.
Dutton Lock - loads of room! ( Pic by Suzanne Wilson)

Through Dutton Viaduct. ( Pic by Suzanne Wilson)

Passing through Saltersford and Dutton Locks, we emerged after very rural scenery to the horrors of present day industrialisation of Runcorn ICI chemical works, which continued for about three miles on one bank.
Three miles of ICI chemical works.

Eventually we reached a blockage at Weston Point Docks in the form of a very low bridge and a disused lock to the right, where we had to wind the boats and return to a mooring that Terry had sussed out on the way down.
Lock into Weston Point Docks, now derelict.
Winding at Weston Point. ( Pic by Suzanne Wilson)
A gap in the bank with MSC and Mersey in view.

Derelict loading pier at Marsh Lock.
Semaphore signal to enter the lock from
Manchester Ship Canal.
A sad sight.
Salt and dereliction.

The weather had been glorious for most of the day and I have to say that it was one of the most satisfying  days on this trip so far.

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