I am sorry for the gap in updating this blog. It has proved difficult in rural
Cheshire to obtain
internet access or sometimes even to obtain an ordinary mobile phone signal. But we've finally managed it this evening.
Since the last posting we have travelled from Middlewich to
Chester and Ellesmere Port
and then back again. On the canals this
entails climbing up the four locks of the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire
Union and a gradual descent almost to sea level at Ellesmere
Port and then reversing all this to return to Middlewich.
We enjoyed the Middlewich Branch much more than when we travelled that way in June. The fact that the sun shone had quite a lot to do with this. We stopped to admire the view of Winsford Top Flash – the lake further upstream than the Bottom Flash that we had ventured onto from the River Weaver.
|Winsford Top Flash, seen from Middlewich Branch|
At the end of the Middlewich Branch we met the main line of the Shropshire Union at Barbridge Junction and picked up David and Victoria there.
|Picking up new crew at Barbridge Junction|
After lunch we tackled the Bunbury Staircase of two locks. The double moored line of Anglo-Welsh hire boats below the locks make life hard for passing boats.
|Looking down Bunbury Staircase Locks|
We stopped below Tilstone Lock and only when we stopped did we realise that we had moored in the one place where you could see
in the distance. Beeston Castle was built on a sandstone crag
some 500 feet above the Beeston Castle Cheshire
plain and the following morning we walked a mile or so to the castle from the
|Beeston Castle on Sandstone Crag|
|View North from Castle|
|David, Victoria and Helen at Beeston Castle|
|Distant view of Liverpool from Castle - Cathedral is in the centre|
David and Victoria helped us down the last five locks into the city of
and that evening we enjoyed a walk along the Rows – streets of medieval shops
at both ground and first floor level.
Our mooring was right by the city walls.
On Monday morning we motored through the amazing rock cut gorge by the city walls and then down a staircase of three locks which are carved out of the solid sandstone rock.
|Rocky Gorge in Chester|
|Bridge of Sighs, Chester|
|Rocky Gorge with City Walls on top|
At the bottom of the staircase there is a basin, a dry dock and a branch of the canal that drops down three more locks to exit onto the tidal River Dee. This branch does not look as if it has been used for a long time. On a really high tide we understand that it is possible to navigate upstream crossing the weir that normally marks the tidal limit. Certainly we saw a narrowboat up there so perhaps you can.
|Exit route to River Dee|
We said our goodbyes to David and Victoria and made our own way in pleasant but unspectacular scenery to
The last mile or so is pretty unpleasant with
factories and motorways providing the backdrop, but eventually we arrived at
the Ellesmere Port. . This occupies the basins and warehouses which
mark the junction between the Shropshire Union and the National Waterways Museum . We planned to spend a night in the basin
which is two locks down towards the Ship Canal and one lock above it. Such a mooring is free for one night for
those who pay to enter the museum.
However there was such a luxuriant growth of two sorts of water weed
that simply getting down the two locks was a real struggle. We had the help of Steven from the Museum,
but we had to bowhaul Leo through the weed with Steven standing on the bow
pushing the weed ahead of the boat and pulling it out from behind the lock
gates. Manchester Ship Canal
|Lower Basin at Waterways Museum - can you spot Leo?|
|William Stevens Barge from River Wey|
|Barges awaiting restoration - note the weed growth|
We looked round the Museum on Tuesday with Ian’s sister, Ruth and husband, Peter. They joined us for a couple of days and travelled back with us to
We had time on the return trip to walk the whole circuit of the city
walls and to have a lovely meal at the Gallery Cafe.
|Peter and Ruth in charge|
|Chester City Walls, Cathedral behind|
|City Walls with Canal far below|
|Bridge over River Dee|
|Victorian Clock on City Wall|
|Chester street with 'Rows'|
On Thursday we took Ruth up a few locks out of
Since Thursday we have been working our way back to Middlewich where we returned to the
Trent and Mersey and turned right heading South. Today we’ve had just a short day tackling
some of the long collection of locks rising to the Harecastle Tunnel, known by
old boaties as “Heartbreak Hill”. In
fact we’ve found it fairly easy and tonight we have a view of Mow Cop, the hill
by Harding’s Wood Junction where the turns off which is
where we went in June. Macclesfield
|Tonight's Mooring - Mow Cop in the distance|