Tuesday 8th to Sunday 13th June 2010

We started the week under grey skies high up the River Weaver near where the navigation fizzles out at Winsford.
At the first signs of sunshine we pushed off from the bank and cruised with Mike and Jo to our limits for this trip – don’t laugh – Winsford Bottom Flash.
winsford flashWednesday, but I’m sure we’ll be back another day. We’ve really enjoyed our stay with nature’s variety, peace and quiet and well behaved waters. There are plenty of places to moor, the shops at Northwich cater for most needs and if there was a source of diesel I’d consider staying for the winter months.

In company with narrowboats Sarah-Kate and Eleanor we retraced our steps downstream through Vale Royal’s ship lock and Hunt’s barge lock to take our turn at the Anderton Lift.
pen down

On the way we passed my next boat “Proceed” waiting for renovation, I hope.

Another treat was in store at Northwich where Mike spotted signs for an enormous BOGOF breakfast, yet another reason to stop on the Weaver. Having fattened myself up V made me walk it off with a visit to the Salt Museum on the edge of town.

We’d almost done with Northwich when Mike was struck by a stone from a BW contractor’s strimmer at the water point. He said it was fortunate for him that the stone hit him in the back of the head and not in the eye or someone would be in big trouble. Another boater had his boat plastered in leaves and shredded rubbish so he gave the offenders a brush to clean it up.

Arriving at Anderton we discovered the lift was about to take a single narrowboat up to the T&M so Sarah-Kate took the spare place in the caisson while we waited our turn.
anderton +SK

We didn’t have long to wait as the guillotine lifted half an hour later and beckoned us inside along with nb.Balqueen.
Nattering, as you do, with your companions for the journey upwards we discovered that Balqueen’s skipper, Ken, was 40 years a Mersey pilot before he retired and not only did he remember piloting the Pass of Balmaha (in our former cruising life) but he could quote her gross weight to within a couple of tons.

I’ll bet he has some stories to tell. If you see Ken and Rosemary on the Shroppie then why not stop them for a chat. If you miss the boat name on the bow then look out for the international signal flags ‘K’ and ‘R’ on the cabin sides.

Turning left, we dived into Barnton and Saltersford tunnels before mooring for the night.
saltersford tunnel

Thursday we started early but just too late to catch Preston Brook tunnel’s 9.00 to 9.10 slot. Waiting for the 10 o’clock slot we were pleased not to get pebble-dashed by the towpath strimmer.
Pebble-dashing takes place when the strimmer guard is on the operative’s side of the whizzy thing. Some people in offices think that the strimmer guard is on the boater’s side which would stop stones hitting boaters and boats but, instead, direct stones at the operative’s feet and ankles. You can decide which is true after looking at the photograph.

After a brief stop at Midland Chandlers we set off down the Runcorn Arm on the Bridgewater Canal and immediately ran into Geoff and Maggs on Seyella.

We stopped mid-stream to exchange news and cruise plans and had we been near a mooring place would have stopped longer but there was the Arm to get down and back before school broke up for the day.

Apart from a couple of brown leather armchairs there wasn’t much to dodge on our way to the dead end at Runcorn.
Winding was comfortable for a sixty footer but I could imagine a seventy footer having to breath in when turning round.

We got an unexpected welcome from the guys at the boat club which more than made up for the funny looks we got from faces at the terminus.

I have never seen so many canal-side cranes and in working order too, by the looks of them.

Back onto the main drag we pulled over at Moore for a rest and to spend the night.

First impressions of the Bridgewater Canal? – this is a well maintained canal, broad and deep enough for widebeam boats, with numerous boat yards and well supplied with moorings, shops and boat bit suppliers. We like it.

Friday morning up with the lark, well 9am anyway, and onto Stockton Heath for an hour’s wander down to the ship canal to see what we could see. No ships.

On to Lymm where we threw ropes ashore and explored the town, taking our time at the chippy before heading off again past strange names like Oughtrington and Grappenhall, looking for Mike’s recommended moorings between Bollington and Dunham.

A bright shiny boat on our right caught my attention and we stopped to take a look at what has to be a recent fit-out by Sandhills. Miss ‘B’ Havin was unattended or we would have stopped to take a closer look. The familiar trade marks were there to be seen, paintwork, sign-writing and joinery, the owners must be really chuffed with her.

What with her bright fresh colours and getting Mike’s hints for washing boats every so often I almost caved in and put soap on Balmaha.

I had run out of excuses so while the sun was off the paintwork I added soap to canal water and washed our port side.
But I still felt no urge to wax the thing. Baby oil looks just as good for a couple of days doesn’t it?

What a day it was, sunshine from morning to night. Lovely weather brought out the walkers with their dogs and the occasional cyclist hollering “Mind your backs”. Blooming cheek.
At least we didn’t have to suffer a fishing match.

It was a good day for the solar panel and another good day for food, Mike and Jo came round so I got to eat decent food again.

Sunday 13th June
It won’t last, no I’m not referring to the football, I refer to the sunshine. V took the best of the day to wander down to Dunham Massey Hall where she saw the Georgian Hall, medieval moat, Elizabethan watermill and tame deer.
dutton massey hall

We received the afternoon rain with mixed feelings, it’s a pain because it stops me washing and oiling the roof (snigger) but we also need it to fill the reservoirs that feed the Leeds & Liverpool canal that carry us into Liverpool Docks in ten days time.