About Me

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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.

Saturday 26 July 2014

The Grand Canal Tour 2014. Being a tourist.

The obvious thing to do, according to all the peeps I talked to, was to walk the city walls, so I started at the second most photographed clock in the UK, Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee clock mounted on a bridge over Foregate. It proved to be an almost complete history of Chester as I passed by various points of interest along the walls, each with their own information boards. I think the pics will tell the tale.

Start at the Jubilee Clock.........

.....up  these steps with the reflection in the window.....

....and follow these two ladies around  the walls.

You may be eligible to be a customer at this pub. 
Houses in Park Street.
Continue towards the River Dee.......

......and the bridge into Wales.

Waterfront and weir.

Moored fishing boats.

Chester castle.

Chester racecourse, the oldest in the world since 1539.
The Water Tower, built 1329 to defend the port of Chester.

Pemberton's Parlour, where John Pemberton the
Murenger and ropemaker oversaw his workers on the
ropewalk below.

A narrow boat passes through the rock channel below the walls.

View of the cathedral.

And closer.

The nave.

The Consistory Court dating from 1635.

Nave window.
The Rows - unique to Chester...........

..............shops above shops, where you can walk through.....

....under cover in many of the streets.
Time to rehydrate in The Cross Keys - another immaculate Joules pub.

I must say that I enjoyed Chester very much, despite the heat of the summer. If you are boating near here it is well worth a visit.


Thursday 24 July 2014

The Grand Canal Tour 2014. A quick stop in Chester and on to Ellesmere Port.

I found a convenient mooring in Chester the following day, to do some shopping before moving on to Ellesmere Port and the Boat Museum. The city was crowded with tourists on this hot summer’s day and there was a friendly atmosphere in the city, as I found out when asking where there was a grocery store.

I moved on shortly afterwards to experience the Northgate Staircase Locks – all three of them, which drop the level 33ft.
Passing the city walls on the left.
Northgate Staircase - 33ft from top to bottom!
 It took me twenty minutes to set them in my favour – that is to fill the top lock into which the boat would go first and empty the other two, so that the water in the top lock went down with me; quite a formidable task as there were single paddles only on the middle and top locks, which were slow and very difficult to operate with a short windlass. I bow hauled the boat into the second and third locks and by now I had an audience of gongoozlers who wanted to know all about it, so no mistakes allowed for! It was hot and thirsty work, but I passed by the Thomas Telford pub at the bottom and continued past the Dee Locks and dry dock.
Rafts of floating pennywort to negotiate.

The cut was getting more and more weedy, mostly floating pennywort, until eventually I had to navigate between islands of it. There was also long grassy weed, which wound itself around the propeller shaft, so causing the engine to overheat slightly. I saw another boat moored up close to bridge 138, where I knew there was a path to The Bunbury Arms, a very welcome sight after those locks.
A quiet mooring, but close to the pub.
The crew of the other moored boat were on their way there too and I had a brief word with them. The service was very slow in the pub and I bought two pints together for the second and last round, but the captain of the other boat bought me a pint too, so I finished with four in all – woe is me! I slept extremely well that night.

They left the mooring at 8am the following morning and I attempted to catch up with them, but I think they had the sports version, because when I got to cut end, they had already winded and moored up. I did expect to have to negotiate locks into the museum, but it was possible to moor above them, with room to spare.

Approach from the Shroppie, with boat moorings on right.
The museum opened at 10am and I was there shortly after. I found it to be much better than Stoke Bruerne and Gloucester, because there was a lot more going on and a great deal of it was outside.
Some canal 'porn' for those aficionados amongst you.
There were many boats in a state of restoration and awaiting restoration, there was a working blacksmith in the forge, many historical engines on display, a pattern shop for the foundry, stables, locks and several historic boats to see and visit, including the un-restored horse boat “Friendship”, the home of Joe and Rose Skinner for many years.
Joe Skinner refused to have an engine fitted.
. When I say un-restored, I mean that the fabric of the boat is the same as when it was lifted out of the water, although the exterior of the back cabin has been repainted by Tony Lewery.
Plenty of space.

I wonder if the LH boat is Cressy? Friendship on right.

The Manchester Ship canal.
 I met one of the volunteers, who had been working there since the ‘70’s and when Henry Johnson’s name came up, she told me that his wife Phyllis was a niece of Charlie Atkins, aka ‘Chocolate Charlie’, a well known figure on the chocolate crumb route to Cadbury’s at Knighton in years gone past.
The Lower Basin in panorama view.

I spent three interesting hours there and did consider staying the night, as there were now vacant moorings, but decided that I could get back the 8 miles to Chester comfortably, apart from those deadly Northgate locks. I had to have the weed hatch up at the aqueduct, as the engine was overheating again – what a difference that made to steering and speed of the boat! Fortunately for me, there was a museum volunteer on the lockside and asked if he could help me, as he had never seen a boat go through the locks. I must say that he was made very welcome and we heaved the stiff gates together and he wound most of the paddle gear, so I was soon through. I offered him a ride and a pint at the end of it, but he refused as he had to yet drive home. Thank you Colin!

Another free mooring at the far end.
Despite it being 6pm when I arrived in the city, there were at least two good moorings available – amazing, where are all the boats?