Last Sunday (2nd August) we went downstream on the River Weaver as far as you can go without venturing out on the Manchester Ship Canal:
There are a number of very large swing bridges on the Weaver. This is Acton Bridge. As you can see the headroom is such that there is no need to swing it for a narrowboat, but the Weaver is made for sea going vessels.
Below Dutton Lock (all the huge locks are controlled by Lock Keepers) you pass this lovely wooden bridge on the right which crosses the weir stream. In the distance you can see the Dutton Railway Viaduct which has at least 19 arches.
Here is Sutton Swing Bridge which was completely restored last winter. Again we can pass safely underneath without swinging it.
In the cut at the bottom end of the River Weaver is Weston Marsh Lock which gives access down into the Manchester Ship Canal. There is additional bureaucracy in getting onto the Ship Canal, so we did not go that way. Looking out from the lock gives an idea of the wide open waters beside the Mersey. Across the other side we could see John Lennon Airport in Liverpool.
The Weaver Navigation stops at the low bridge you can see, just short of Runcorn.
Pas Mèche is turning round and we are about to follow. The church you can just see was built for sailors passing through Runcorn docks and was open 24 hours a day. It is now shut up and abandoned.
The scenery over the last 2 or 3 miles of the Weaver is dominated by the huge Chemical Works shown here.
Having come back up the river some way we moored at Devil's Garden, a lovely spot and we were the only boats there. As you can see Pas Mèche have been doing their washing!
On Monday we cruised back to Northwich where we stayed two nights while Victoria explored a job opportunity and Ian went home to collect the post. So it was Wednesday that we returned to the Anderton Lift and climbed back to the Trent and Mersey Canal.
Here is Leo entering the lift from the River to join Lady Emily in the caisson.
From the top we could look down on Pas Mèche, waiting for a later lift. We were scheduled to go up together but agreed to go in an earlier lift to maximise use and leave a space for a later boat.
As we went up, the trip boat went down and here you can see it going round the bend of the River towards Northwich.
On Wednesday evening we had a last meal with David and Victoria at the Stanley Arms and on Thursday morning, after just over a month cruising together, we parted as they are heading South and we are heading North. After the several canal closures in this part of the world we have booked to go into Liverpool which we've not done for 3 years, so that is where we are heading.
Here is our final picture of Pas Mèche as we left them on Thursday morning. A sad parting, but we will see them again at the end of September, albeit not with Leo.
Thursday was a day of three tunnels. Here is Barnton Tunnel which was the first. As we approached, there were great cries from the boat in front which had met one coming the other way! This tunnel is too narrow to pass and you are supposed to check for headlights coming the other way before you enter. Not sure who was at fault, but we waited until the other one backed out.
We stopped for coffee and a walk on the Dutton Embankment. This was the site of a huge breach in the canal in September 2012. You can see that we have moored on the very spot. There are fine visitor moorings there now.
From the mooring we walked down to the River Weaver below and then along the River and back up to the Canal. This is a distant picture of the Embankment. The gap in the trees is where the breach occurred.
And this is the last tunnel of the day at Preston Brook. It is about three quarters of a mile long and has timed entry (to ensure there are no collisions). We had to moor up for 20 minutes or so to wait for our slot. We came through with a couple of other boats behind us, but we didn't meet one coming the other way!
Once through the Preston Brook Tunnel you are off the Trent & Mersey and on the Bridgewater Canal. This was the first proper canal of the Canal age, built by the Duke of Bridgewater to take his coal from mines near Worsley to Manchester and Runcorn. It has no locks at all and goes East roughly parallel with the Manchester Ship Canal to cross the Mersey and the Ship Canal before heading West to join the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. On the way we had a lovely day out at the National Trust property - Dunham Massey.
Dunham Massey was owned by the Earls of Stamford and during the First World War was used as a military hospital. Some of the rooms have been set out this year as they were when it was Stamford Hospital. Some actors and actresses were doing short tableaux to bring it to life. All pretty interesting and sobering given the descriptions of some of the soldiers' injuries.
This is a meat safe in the kitchen which was quite cool on a hot summer's day. No fridges then.
The gardens were lovely so here is a Dahlia flower with a bee just visible below its centre.
And here is another flower which was really popular with the bees.
The Bridgewater Canal has a number of 'underbridges' and we walked under this one to Dunham Massey. It was slightly damp underneath but what can you expect with a canal on top?
Today we've come through Sale and Stretford which was not quite as dull as we expected. Being a Sunday the canal was full of rowers and the towpath was thronged with runners and people out for a Sunday stroll.
Here is 'Waters' Meeting' where you can turn right into Manchester. Only at present they are demolishing a building by the canal which is closed for several weeks. So no point turning right then.
Having turned right you meet another wonder of the waterways - the Barton Swing Aqueduct seen here. This crosses the Manchester Ship Canal and can swing, full of water, to allow ships through.
Here is the view to the West from the Aqueduct of the Ship Canal below. The road bridge you can see also swings. Last October we went on a Mersey Ferry through these bridges and saw them actually swung.
Coming towards Worsley, you pass this lighthouse. I'm not sure what the story is behind this, but it is now part of a house.
And here we are in Worsley. To the right waterways linked into the coal mines of the Duke of Bridgewater. The water here is orange because of iron coming out of the mines.
So in a week's time we go into Liverpool, a wonderful canal journey. Till then we will be making our way across Lancashire into open country again. And even the weather forecast looks better for us.