Monday, 29 June 2015

Leeds & Liverpool

Hi again,
This week we are moored on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal a quarter of a mile or so East of the junction with the Rufford Branch not far from the large village of Burscough in Lancashire.We got here earlier today as we make our steady way towards Liverpool where we are booked into Salthouse Dock for thirteen days from this Friday.Our voyage into Liverpool was first conceived last year and,despite being told there was no chance of us getting a booking from a number of other boaters we met over the winter,a phone call to Canal & River Trust at Wigan,early in May,got us booked in without any trouble at all.
The last couple of weeks have been quite busy for us,if enjoying oneself can be said to be busy that is.Together with Pete and Val on Tadpole 2 we came off the River Weaver on the Tuesday before last to make our way to the FAB Festival at Middlewich.FAB stands for Folk and Boat by the way and the festival lasts from Friday evening to Sunday night and this one was the 25th Anniversary Festival.On the Wednesday we arrived and got ourselves ready for what turned out to be a brilliant weekend,many said it was the best ever.Our friends Rob and Suzie on Swamp Frogs were there as was Mick and Marianne with their Sweet Boat,Lollipop,and on Thursday we had Jeane and Pete on Castalan surprise us as they arrived in Middlewich for repairs to their boat.On the Friday Dennis and Ann on Emily,who we hadn't seen since they took us Bell ringing and Line Dancing last year in Nantwich came for a couple of nights.All these visitors meant that Lisa and I had loads of catching up to do.There were plenty of good music acts over the weekend and all the venues that we went into did a sterling job.Particular thanks go to The Kings Lock pub and Middlewich Narrowboats,both of whom had some great entertainment and their Real Ale was excellent.
Earl Grey & the Charwallahs on the stage at Middlewich Narrowboats,this band were the best of the festival for me.
Mark Radcliffe & Galleon Blast in the Marquee at The Kings Lock on Friday night.Mark Radcliffe is at the back somewhere.
A week ago today we set off on our cruise from Middlewich a bit earlier than usual,at eight thirty in fact,in the hope that we wouldn't have to queue at the five locks that we had to pass through to get out of town.It seemed that everyone else must have been having a lie in because it proved to be quite quiet,our three boats,Swamp frogs,Tadpole 2 and Chyandour had the locks to themselves.
Over the following four days we made steady progress along the T&M,the Bridgewater and the Leigh Branch for about fifty miles before stopping at Leigh to load up with supplies for the weekend.We'd spent the first night a Dutton where we met a lovely boater,who's name I failed to get,but who reads this blog so she'll know who I mean.Her boat is NB Henry H and I would like to say thank you for the kind words,they're much appreciated.Our second and third nights were spent at Bollington near Dunham Massey and then Boothstown just past Worsley.Sadly,after three days,we had to say farewell to Rob and Suzie on Swamp Frogs but we do hope to catch up with them again sometime in the future,take care both.
Leaving Leigh on Friday about lunchtime we did a short hop of just over a mile to Pennington Flash where we stayed for a couple of nights overlooking the flash.While there we did some walking around watching the bird life and also did a few odd jobs on our boats before leaving there on Sunday morning.
With just Tadpole 2 and ourselves,we were able to share the locks as we cruised through Wigan and along the L&L as they are Broad Locks,capable of taking two narrowboats side by side.Last night we stopping at Crooke where the local hostelry was holding a Ukulele Weekend.There were a number of Real Ales on sale at reasonable prices so it would have been rude not to sample one or two,the music was half tidy too.
Ahead of us on Sunday morning was a boat who's crew hadn't done any locks before so Lisa & Val had helped them & to show their appreciation the other boat had given them a bottle of wine.Pete & I are drinking Blackcurrant Ribena as if we had opened the wine.Lisa will find out when she reads this.
The Orwell at Wigan Pier.A former Victorian Cotton Warehouse built in 1777 and rebuilt in 1984.George Orwell was the author of a book called The Road to Wigan Pier.

 Well folks that the lot for this week I'm afraid.I'm having problems with my computer and I'm now unable to load any more pictures to this blog,sorry.Since our last blog we have gone through 19 Locks and cruised for 78 Miles.That gives us a Grand Total of 1,184 Locks and 2,019 Miles since we set off in October 2012.Take care everyone.

Monday, 15 June 2015

River Weaver

Hi all,
This week we are moored on the River Weaver at the lovely moorings on Barnton Cut,having had a brilliant time since we came down the Anderton Boat Lift and met up with Val and Pete on NB Tadpole 2 a week ago yesterday.We've been able to take both Chyandour and Tadpole 2 as far as we can safely go at both ends of the river as well as enjoying some of the places in between.The weather has been very kind to us,even the washout that was forecast for last Saturday failed to materialise and we managed to cruise a bit as well as take a good look around a couple of places near Weston Marsh and Weston Point at the Northern end of the river.
We cast off on Tuesday morning from the moorings below Anderton and made our way the short distance Southwards to Northwich where we managed to find a couple of moorings and then spent the rest of day exploring the lovely clean town with it's pretty timber framed buildings.I don't recall ever seeing so many waste bins in a town as we saw in Northwich,probably why it was so clean.There were plenty of shops for Lisa and Val to indulge themselves while Pete and I searched for the Salt Museum.There's a sign for the salt Museum above the entrance to the library but unfortunately the museum isn't there anymore,it's about half a mile outside of the town at Weaver Hall.It was explained to us that because the front of the Library is Grade 2 listed the sign above the door can't be changed.Anyway,in the end we decided to save the museum for a future visit.
A concrete barge,now sadly sunk,apparently the Admiralty had a number of these built during wartime to be used as floating warehouses.There's another one at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port that was still afloat last time I looked.
Talking of barges,this monster came at us while we were moored on the Water Point at Northwich.Two men on the side of it had poles to fend it off us should they need to,the farthest man with a steel tipped Boathook ready to push off our Gunwales.I came out in a cold sweat as I prepared to say goodbye to my lovely paintwork but they managed to get by with less than six inches to spare.
After the ladies had done some last minute shopping on Wednesday morning we set of Southwards again to another very clean town,Winsford.The stretch of the river between Northwich and Winsford is a delightful mix of rural and industrial and took us through our first river locks.These locks are manned and beautifully looked after by the Lockies who were always friendly and cheerful,all we had to do was phone ahead when we were half an hour away and each one would be ready and waiting when we arrived.At Winsford there's a recently built Waterfront which has some very nice open moorings with the added bonus of a waterpoint,you get to them after going under the two Winsford Bridges and turning sharp left just before the Flash.They're out of town a bit but this only makes for them being quieter in the evening.Having a walk around the town in the afternoon we were impressed with the shopping centre and other stores.The four of us went for a short stroll and a quiet drink in The Ark and The Red Lion near the moorings on Wednesday night,just in the interests of research of course.
Approaching our first River Lock,Hunts Lock,friendly Lockies were waiting to help us through.

Lisa at the helm as we made our way towards the second lock of the day with Val & Pete on Tadpole 2 following. The Lockie at Hunts Lock phoned through to Vale Royal Lock to advise of our eta.

Salt has been extracted around this area of Cheshire for Centuries and here alongside the river is the Union Rock Salt Mine,just outside Winsford.It's one of only three Salt Mines in the UK and is the biggest and oldest having been started in 1844.Salt is extracted elsewhere by pumping water underground,this dissolves the salt which is then brought to the surface in the form of brine. 
Elvis 1.We saw this in Winsford and the lady in charge of it told us that it was very popular with the good folk of Winsford.You can hear it coming because she continuously plays Elvis Presley songs through speakers.

Winsford Waterfront,a great place to moor but just a bit shallow near the entrance.
 On Thursday we cruised back through Vale Royal Lock and Hunts Lock as we traveled the seven miles back to Anderton where we intended to stop the night before moving on on Friday to a place we'd heard some good things about,the village of Frodsham.We had hoped to moor on the Frodsham Cut and walk into the village but unfortunately there's a boom across the cut at it's junction with the Weaver so we traveled a bit further to Sutton Swing Bridge for the night.Frodsham turned out to be quite a delightful little place with lots of information boards and plaques giving details of the local history.Well worth the visit despite the walk from the river and the fact that the main road had a continuous stream of traffic,something we're not used to anymore.To fortify ourselves for the walk back to the boats we tried a drink in The Bears Paw and sat outside watching the Police directing the traffic.We considered having our first BBQ of the year when we got back but sadly it came on to rain just as we got on the boats.
Saturday morning we set off once again,this time to get as far North along the river as we could,which turned out to be the junction of the now disused Runcorn and Weston Canal.There's a very low swing bridge just past the junction that hadn't been opened for quite some time and it didn't seem to be worth the trouble of getting it open as the terminus was just a few hundred yards farther on anyway.We moored up and went for a walk around just to see what was there and the answer is,not a lot,though it was good to see the very end.After an hour nosing around we winded in the junction and made our way back past the giant chemical works that stretches alongside the river for a mile,to a place we had passed earlier,Weston Marsh Lock and our mooring for the night.Through this lock you can get onto the Manchester Ship Canal if you wish and you can look out over the ship canal and the mud flats of the River Mersey and away in the distance is John Lennon Airport.
Pete at the helm of Tadpole 2 as we cruised past the Tata Chemicals plant alongside the Weston Canal of the Weaver Navigations.This site is the former ICI Brunner Mond Chemical works and it stretches for a mile alongside the canal.

I'm always curious about industrial sites like this one,all the different coloured and different sized pipes,all seemingly endless as they emerge from one maze of pipes before entering another maze farther on.Some going upwards on gantries before coming back down again for no apparent reason.Different chimneys,stacks I think is the correct term,some in action others not,some thin,some thick ,some short some long.A multitude of vessels of different materials,sizes and shapes holding who knows what mysterious substances.You never see a soul anywhere and there are always blasts of steam from valves and pipes,a simply fascinating place.

Weston Marsh Lock,through here you get onto the Manchester Ship Canal.We spent Saturday night here,moored on the pontoon just out of the picture to the right.
The former Anglican Christ Church on the Weston Point docks.One of three erected by the Weaver navigation for it's employees to worship after a law was passed banning work on a Sunday.This act brought the navigation in line with the rest of the UK canal network .It was consecrated at the end of 1841 and made redundant in1995,sadly,like so many old buildings,it has also been vandalised.
The end of the Weston Canal in the middle distance,no longer accessible because of two swing bridges and a lock gate which is below the swing bridge I'm standing on as I take this pic'.
The Runcorn & Weston Canal Junction and the remains of  Entrance Lock.Just to the left,off the pic', is the first of the very low swing bridges that prevented us going further along the Weaver Navigation.The Weston & Runcorn was a little used canal connecting the River with the Bridgewater Canal at Runcorn.It was opened in 1859,stretched for just under a mile and a half and was closed in 1939,being abandoned and partially filled in in the 1960's,not a good decade for our canals amongst other things.There is some talk of reopening it in the future.
Yesterday we left Weston Marsh Lock and headed back to a now familiar place,Acton Swing Bridge,where we just managed to squeeze into the last mooring breasted up,that's side by side for those who don't know,a common practice on rivers.From there we were ready to wander over to the Leigh Arms for a little light refreshment as and when the mood took us.
This morning we went through Saltersord Lock,our last river lock on this leg of our journey,and we are now moored just a couple of miles from the Anderton Boat Lift that we intend to ascend tomorrow,all being well.
Well,that's it once again folks.Since our last blog we have covered 38 Miles and gone through 4 Locks twice that gives us a Grand Total of 1,165 Locks and 1,940 Miles since we set off on our travels in October 2012.Take care everyone.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Anderton Boat Lift.

Hi all,
This week we are moored just upriver of the Anderton Boat Lift and its junction with the River Weaver near Northwich in Cheshire,after descending the boat lift yesterday.
Entering the Anderton Lift yesterday morning ready for the descent down to the River Weaver some fifty feet below.
Looking down onto the Edwin Clark Trip Boat as she prepares to ascend the lift.Edwin Clark was the Engineer who came up with the idea of a boat lift which was built in 1875.
We stayed one more day in Runcorn last week and went for a walk along as much of the old Bridgewater Canal as we could from it's current end of navigation at Waterloo Bridge to where it joined the Manchester Ship Canal.
Part of the line of the abandoned stretch of the Bridgewater Canal with the chamber of one of the ten locks that dropped the canal down to the Manchester Ship Canal,which can just about be seen in the distance,behind the buildings.
On Tuesday we set off from our mooring at the Bridgewater Motor Boat Club in Runcorn and made our way some seven miles to the site of the major canal breach in 2012 at Dutton on the T&M.After a prolonged period of heavy rain the canal burst its bank and washed the towpath down the embankment,draining the canal.I've wanted to stop there ever since the breach was repaired because you can see for miles across the countryside while there are still no trees and only a low hedge.Once again we had to travel through Preston Brook Tunnel and the stop lock just to the South after turning onto the T&M at Preston Brook Junction.We spent four nights moored there while we waited for the Anderton Boat Lift to be repaired and managed a couple of nice walks as well as getting a lot of little jobs done on Chyandour.On Thursday we took a short walk down to Dutton Locks on the River Weaver,there's a circular route from our mooring which takes about an hour.
The view from the mooring Dutton Railway Viaduct,which carries the West Coast Mainline,in the distance.

The wreck of the MV Chica at Dutton Locks on the Weaver.It's been here since 1993 after what was quite an interesting life,if what I've been able to discover is correct.She was built in 1894 in Norway and was commandeered by the German Navy during WW2 and after the war found herself running guns in the Mediterranean and finally smuggling cigarettes and tobacco before becoming a fishing boat in Liverpool in 1950's.Her last job was as a cruise ship traveling up and down the Weaver for about a decade or so in the 1980's.
The paired locks at Dutton,there are two chambers,one larger than the other and they both have two sets of gates to accommodate vessels of different lengths and save water.The Semaphore signals indicate whether a lock is available or not,the left hand lock is no longer in use so I take it that a down signal is for closed.
On Saturday morning we were a bit more ambitious and walked the two and a half miles or so each way back up the T&M to Preston Brook where there is a Convenience Store.We wanted to stock up on supplies to keep us going for a day or two as there aren't many shops where we will be for the next few days.The walk took us over the top of Preston Brook Tunnel on the route that the horses would have taken while the boats were legged through the tunnel.
It was a lovely morning for our walk over the top of the tunnel on Saturday and about halfway over there's the Tunnel Top pub,we didn't go in as it was a tad too early to be honest,
Looking back at the boat lift as we turned upstream onto the River Weaver before making our way the short distance to the moorings where Val and Pete with NB Tadpole 2 were waiting for us.
The stern of Tadpole 2 and our mooring as we cruised along the river.
Well,that's all again for this week.Since last week we have gone through 1 Lock and cruised for 12 Miles.That gives us a Grand Total of 1,157 Locks and 1,902 Miles since we set off on our travels with Chyandour in October 2012.Take care everyone.

Monday, 1 June 2015


Hi again,
This week we are at the very Western end of the Bridgewater Canal in Runcorn,moored on the Visitor Moorings of the Bridgewater Motor Boat Club.
After taking the hire car back to Bolton last Tuesday morning we left our mooring at Boothstown Basin just as soon as Enterprise got us back to Chyandour.We headed South East along the Bridgewater Leigh Branch,once again passing through Worsley and over the Barton Swing Bridge,then past the big Kellogs factory,before turning to the right at Waters Meeting onto the Main Line of the Bridgewater.We only traveled for a total of about eight miles before we moored for the night near the Bridge Inn on the outskirts of Sale.Sorry to say we didn't go in the Bridge but it looked ok from the outside and we had a quiet night,the towpath is a busy cycle route though so you need your wits about you when you step off the boat.The following morning we were off again to our next port of call which was Lymm,we'd arranged to meet up with our eldest Daughter and the Grandkids on Thursday and we wanted to be sure of a mooring in this popular spot.We were lucky and got a good mooring when a hire boat moved off and Lisa and I then spent the rest of the day wandering around the village trying to recall the sights from our last visit in 2012.That had been after we'd sold up and moved out of our bungalow in Perth to take the first steps on our new journey towards living on Chyandour. Our first night away from Perth had been in the Travelodge off the M6 Motorway here and we'd spent the afternoon mooching around the village.Lymm hadn't changed but it did seem a bit smaller.
At Oughtrington,just outside Lymm,you can see this unusual sight at the side of the canal.
The centre of the village of Lymm and the pond.The last time we were here I remember the water here being clear and the pond full of fish.Couldn't see any this time as the water was murky.
The moorings on the canal in Lymm,there's not all that many though it's possible to moor just before and just beyond here.We're moored towards the far end on the right
 We'd got ourselves a bit of a plan for when we were going to leave Lymm on Friday but,as with all our plans,they are likely to change at short notice and this one was no exception.The plan was to go to the Western end of the Bridgewater by Saturday,stay overnight in Runcorn,and then make our way down the T&M to the Anderton Lift and then go onto the River Weaver Monday or Tuesday.The first hiccup came on Thursday,in the form of an email from CRT informing us that the Anderton Lift was broken and there would be a further update on Friday at around lunchtime.Then came a call from our youngest Daughter asking where we would be on Sunday evening and could she treat us to a meal? As Lisa and I aren't noted for refusing food the answer was yes,where would you like us to be? Anyway,all this made us take a look at our original plan and then,when CRT updated us on Friday,saying the lift was going to be out of commission for at least the weekend,we decided on a Plan B and that's why we're here in Runcorn now.Plan B had us doing things a little in reverse 'cos we knew that if the lift were fixed by Monday,it would be busy for a day or two,stranded boats would want to get off and onto the River Weaver before new arrivals could be accommodated, and we're in no particular hurry.
Looking through the guides for somewhere where we could moor and where there was somewhere nearby we could get a meal on Sunday evening,and also bearing in mind that the weather on Sunday morning was likely to be unpleasant.We decided Acton Bridge near Bridge 209 on the T&M looked the best bet.As a result,on Saturday morning,we left our mooring opposite Daresbury Science Park where we'd had a quiet and solitary night and made our way about a mile and a half to another Waters Meeting.This one at the junction where the Bridgewater splits,one way the canal heads North West to Runcorn and the other way South,on the Preston Brook Branch,towards the T&M.A quick nip up to the services by Preston Brook Marina for water etc. then down the last mile of the Bridgewater past Midland Chandlers and Claymoore Hire Boats to Preston Brook Tunnel.As we passed Claymoore we saw a familiar sight,NB Beeston Castle,the boat we had enjoyed when we hired from Claymoore nearly five years ago when we did the Cheshire ring.
Preston Brook Tunnel is only wide enough for one boat so entrance is timed.It takes about fifteen minutes to traverse the tunnel,which is just under a mile long and a bit crooked,though it is just about possible to see the other end when you enter.Just after you leave the tunnel there is a Stop Lock at Dutton and then you're on the ninety three and a bit mile long Trent and Mersey Canal.As I understand it,the tunnel was built by The Duke of Bridgewater too narrow for the boats that used his canal and he made quite a considerable profit from warehousing and transhipment at Preston Brook as a result.On Saturday evening we took a stroll down to the River Weaver and the Acton Swing Bridge,there's a couple of pubs nearby and we tried them both,finding the Leigh Arms to be the better of the two.On Sunday evening the three of us did enjoy a nice carvery at The Riverside,on the bank of the River Weaver,just upriver from the swing bridge when our youngest visited.
Acton Swing Bridge on the River Weaver,just short walk down the A49 Warrington Road from our weekend mooring on the T&M.
A view over the fields to Dutton Lock on the River Weaver as we cruised back up the T&M this morning.
Lisa opening Dutton Stop Lock on the T&M this morning.It only has a fall of a few inches.The smell of the Wild Garlic as we approached the lock was awesome.
Entering Preston Brook Tunnel,we'd enjoyed glorious sunshine up to here and now it had turned grey.
The end of navigation in Runcorn,we winded here to go back to the BMBC and in a day or two we'll be heading back onto the T&M and hopefully the Anderton Boat Lift.We have just heard that the lift isn't likely to be opened before Thursday so we'll keep out of the way till things ease off a bit after that.
 We arrived here at the Bridgewater Motor Boat Club this lunchtime after leaving Acton Bridge and retracing our steps back through the tunnel to Waters Meeting at Preston Brook.We turned left at the junction and cruised for just under five miles to the end of navigation at Waterloo Bridge 89 where we winded and came back about half mile to the BMBC. The moorings here are very neat and tidy and there's a club house but that,sadly,is only opened Fridays and Saturdays.This is our first time on this stretch of the Bridgewater and we found it quite pleasant 'cos though your traveling though an urban area the canal has a rural feel about it,it's like a tree lined corridor with only brief glimpses of housing and it all seems well cared for.
Well,that's all again for this week folks.Since last Monday we have done two Locks,the same one twice,and we've cruised 35 Miles.That gives us a Grand Total of 1,156 Locks and 1,890 Miles since we set off in October 2012.Take care everyone.