Friday, 24 August 2012

Back in Middlewich

We’ve really enjoyed our few days on the River Weaver and would definitely recommend this to other boaters.  It has some wonderful scenery as well as some strange and peculiar industrial plants alongside the river.

On Tuesday we did not travel very far as the morning was taken up with washing towels and touching up various bits of paint on the boat.  We went down through Vale Royal and Hunts Locks to Northwich and moored in the centre of town.  We followed a walk leaflet that our friends had left us and looked at some of the fine black and white buildings in the town.

RAOB Club Building Northwich

The Old Post Office, now Wetherspoons

These buildings are not as old as they look, in fact dating from  Victorian times.  There is a great deal of subsidence in Northwich because of mining salt by pumping brine from deep down.  Many of the timber buildings are designed to be jacked up when they subside.  The swing bridges on the river are mostly floating on pontoons as this gets round the subsidence problem.

Wetherspoons in the town is the old Post Office and is called The Penny Black.  Having arrived there just as it began to rain we decided to view the inside as well as the outside of the building!

From Northwich we went down river first back to the Anderton Lift and then past some salt works before regaining open country:
Salt Works by River Weaver

Cruising the River Weaver

We descended the other two locks, Saltersford and Dutton and crossed under the Acton Swing Bridge – said to be the largest electric swing bridge in the UK.  After Dutton Lock you also pass under the Dutton Railway Viaduct.
Acton Swing Bridge - note the threatening clouds

Dutton Railway Viaduct

The weather was interesting with splendid clouds which occasionally did what clouds are good at.

 Near Weston Marsh Lock (which gives access to the Manchester Ship Canal) you begin a three mile stretch of river lined on the North bank by the huge Runcorn ICI chemical plant.  The sheer size of this is amazing.
Runcorn ICI Chemical Works

Runcorn ICI Chemical Works

The end of the navigation is a very low and impassable swing bridge marking the entrance to Weston Point Docks:
Weston Point Swing Bridge
On our way back we stopped at Marsh Lock to cross over to look at the Ship Canal.  The weather was horrible with rain and wind but we managed to see aircraft landing at John Lennon airport across the Mersey.  The airport is very close to Speke Hall where we had been two weeks previously.  The Ship Canal looked very large and windswept.
Wide Manchester Ship Canal at its confluence with the River Weaver
We spent our last night on the Weaver at Devil’s Garden moorings where we had to prune a few trees and shrubs to allow us to take the last available space:
Mooring in the Devil's Garden
On Thursday afternoon we came back up the Anderton Lift having taken time out in the morning to service the engine.  After a night near the lift we have travelled today down the Trent and Mersey to Middlewich.  Some of this stretch of canal runs through small lakes, called flashes, which have been caused by salt subsidence.  One of these made a lovely spot for a lunch stop.
Croxton Flash - views of seagulls and Canada Geese during our lunch
Before long we had to get to grips with boater operated locks (those on the Weaver are operated for you) again as we came into Middlewich with four locks up to the junction with the Shropshire Union branch and then a further one on the branch itself.  Apart from the stop lock South of Preston Brook Tunnel these were the first 'proper' locks we had met since Wigan
Middlewich Locks
David and Victoria are joining us tomorrow for a few days swiftly followed by Ian’s sister Ruth and brother-in-law Peter.  So Leo will be replete with guests and blogging will probably fall by the wayside for a bit.  Our aim is now to travel to Chester and perhaps Ellesmere Port before we return to Middlewich to continue our journey Southward.

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