Leaving the waters of the Bridgwater canal on Saturday we arrived at Anderton on the Trent and Mersey canal where we moored up – and that’s when our plans changed! Taking the ‘chance’ as we do from time to time …..
…….. on Monday morning we took the bus to Northwich (catching up very briefly with cruise friend Michael – who very kindly walked us to the railway station to catch the train to Liverpool)
Booking in for the night at the Adelphi hotel we popped down to the Albert Dock to meet up with friends Sue and Richard on nb “Indigo Dream” and to surprise friends Ian and Cherryl on nb “Winedown” (as they were also moored in the Albert Dock but didn’t know we were coming!) . Trouble was, they spotted us first – damn it! Here we are enjoying the sunshine, wine and company of Richard and Sue, Cherryl and Ian on the the front of “Winedown”.
The reason for this exciting and dramatic change to our plans was that we were to join Richard and Sue on “Indigo Dream” on Monday morning (at 6 am sharp!) for their trip across the Mersey, up the Manchester Ship Canal and onto the River Weaver. Bleary eyed, after enjoying a very late night out with Liverpool friends, we joined up with Cherryl and Ian climbed aboard “Indigo Dream” (second blue boat) for a sensational and unique day.
Under the guidance of our pilot Stuart we made our way through the extensive, and very foggy, Liverpool docks ………
……. to the lock, which is to the right of the red light (what red light!) …….
……. ahhh, there’s the lock (and the red light)!
Safely in the lock there was time to gather for a group pic. Richard, Ian, Cherryl, Doug, Sue and pilot Stuart (who was to be worth his wait in gold as it turned out!)
Right, the lock gates are open and away we go ……..
…….. err, where exactly?
Even on a clear day you need the expertise of a pilot but on this trip Stuart really earned his keep.
After a totally disorientating journey across the Mersey we finally found (or Stuart did actually!) the lock which would take us onto the Manchester Ship Canal. Yes, the lock is dead ahead.
There it is ………
…….. and, once we were in the lock, it was so big we couldn’t see the other end!
Oh, here’s a pic of the rather cheeky front-end rope boy.
While we were in the lock we got the news from the canal authorities that they wished us to stay put until the fog lifted and we could proceed safely. So an hour, and several bacon butties later, ……..
………. here are two of the galley slaves – Cherryl and Doug, who produce the days’ sustenance ( kitchen kingpin Sue is not in the picture) ……..
…… but she’s here with Richard (and one of the four greyhounds also on board!)
Before we started our journey up the Manchester Ship Canal we decided to let the big boys go first!
Time for another group pic in a rare rural section of the canal. James is deputizing for Richard at the helm for a while.
The MSC is a working canal and most of it is very industrialized.
We passed the lock entrance to Ellesmere Port and its canal museum …….
……. before getting into the sights, sounds, and some very strong smells, of some major industry.
Mainly petro-chemical, the vast majority of all the canal side industry …………
……… is fed by some very large ships. Thankfully all the vessels we saw during our passage were safely moored up.
At the end of our MSC journey industrial Runcorn presented us with our transition to the Weaver Navigation …….
……… in the form of Marsh Lock – the first of three locks we were to use on the journey up river.
We found a marvellous little mooring spot to stop for some lunch. After the chilly and foggy start to the day the sun shone for us for much of the time and certainly it was a lovely warm setting here for dogs and humans alike.
Back on our journey again the River Weaver, like the MSC before it, provided the opportunity for the boat to be ‘opened up’ a little bit.
Sue took a turn at the tiller ……
….. and took us through the last two locks ………
…. past some of the Weaver’s own salt-based industry, ………
……… up to the Anderton Boat Lift and the end of the day’s stupendous journey.
This is where we all went our own separate ways – Richard and Sue to moor up and wait for the lift in the morning, Ian and Cherryl to get themselves back to their boat in Liverpool and for us a climb up the 80 feet from the River Weaver to the Trent and Mersey Canal where we’d left “Chance” on the 48 hour moorings. It was a sensational adventure which we have to thank Richard and Sue very much for. Whilst the fog might have restricted our view of the Mersey it was still a great journey and one we would not have missed. A very big “thank you” Sue and Richard!