Saturday, 12 September 2015

Cheshire Treasures

Tuesday night was spent about a mile before the newly renovated Lion Salt Works and we were going to pop in on Wednesday morning now that it’s open to the public, but due to the ‘permanent moorers’ filling up just about every space either side of the bridge we couldn’t get in. Such a pity as the Lion Salt Works must be losing a lot of trade. 


Sailing on, James had his “fix” of industry as we passed through the massive chemical works (now seemingly owned by Tata) just before Broken Cross. Steam was shrieking out of a tall stack and the air was filled with lovely chemical smells (James idea of fun!).


The historical mining of salt beneath this area of Cheshire has made the land very prone to subsidence which is the cause of the large expanses of water known as the “flashes” a bit further up the canal. All the bridges over the canal have been built very simply in order that they might be corrected when they too subside. No lovely brick arches here!


We’ve passed this ‘marina in waiting’ around bridge 181 about three years running and noting seems to have altered. We’re amazed at the length of the pontoons – you can get at least six good length narrow boats down each one. Who would want to walk the length of those to get to your boat at the far end?


Mooring on one of the lovely “flashes” overnight, we awoke to the most wonderful sunrise and mirror-calm water on Thursday morning.


The canal map gives the impression that Middlewich isn’t too far but it’s a good old slog from the far “flashes” to Big Lock. Originally built to take wide beam salt and coal barges from the Mersey ports into Middlewich, the lock was completely useless as the tunnels the other side of Anderton were only built to take narrow beam craft. Lack of communication seems to be as rife in the 18th century as it is today!


While Doug did a bit of shopping in Middlewich, James took the opportunity to wipe down “Chance” from stem to stern. On his own, this is the best ‘selfie’ he could manage.


To help us up the three single locks at Middlewich and, as he missed catching up with us in Liverpool, our friend Dave drove over for a spot of exercise and a good old chin wag.


Between locks 73 and 72 there’s a tight right-angled bend which is a bit of a task with just one boat but there’s a good chance of meeting another boat trying to manoeuvre as well! Thanks to Dave we have a great shot of sod’s law in action!


As we turned of the Trent and Mersey canal we passed along the Wardle canal which, at just a few metres from the bridge to the lock, is the shortest on the system.


The other side of Wardle Lock and on the Middlewich Arm of the Shropshire Union Canal (it all gets terribly complicated!) we stopped for a spot of lunch on board before Dave took his leave to drive back to Liverpool. It was short and sweet Dave but great to catch up again and thanks for the helping hand.


After a good hours cruising we got to our pre-ordained rendezvous with friends Di and Steve at Church Minshull. They’d driven out from the Wirral to catch up with us ………


……..and, after the obligatory drinks and nibbles on board “Chance” we walked the short distance into Church Minshull to the Badger Inn for a bite to eat. James killed two birds with one stone here to capture both treasured friends and a treasured porch. (James is a great porch fan and this was a great porch)


In “The Badger” which, three years’ ago was derelict when we passed, we had a truly superb meal – the desserts of which were killers! Highly recommended for both food and welcome. Di and Steve, it was a great pleasure to meet up again after so long.


Friday saw us move from Church MInshull to the lovely Nantwich. Full of the most lovely buildings, lots of black and white and terribly crooked …….


….. and little treasures of the past which get hidden away unless your keep your eyes open.P1030598


Another of the star attractions of Nantwich, apart from it’s ancient buildings, (more pics of which will follow) are our friends Eileen and Bill (ex nb “New Dawn”. Today (Saturday) we walked from the canal to have lunch with them at home. A pleasure as always, we had a good few hours enjoying their company and food – and the weekend is not yet over ………………………………

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