Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Bridgewater to Leigh Branch - Wednesday 4th April

A really bright sunny morning prompted us to another early start and we were soon passing this little marina surrounded by nice houses at Oldfield Quay.IMG_7025

We turned the next corner and entered the 2 mile straight which takes us through Sale and onto Stretford. Here the towpath was like the M1 with cyclists, dog walkers, joggers and people on their way to work.IMG_7027

This stretch is also used by rowers and we had to move over to allow this sculler to go past as they are quite wide with the oars in use.IMG_7028

The second half of the straight is lined with moored boats of the Sale Cruising Club and here we had to pass a very smokey working boat which gives you an idea of just how wide the Bridgewater canal is.IMG_7030

At Sale Bridge the Kings Ransom pub has this floating pontoon as a drinking and dinning area right next to the bridge.

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Travelling under the M60 we enter Stretford and shortly made a turn left away from Manchester up the Leigh Branch towards Wigan. A short distance from the junction is the famous Kellogs cereal factory.IMG_7032

We moored up right outside the back entrance to Trafford Park shopping centre, a major development by Intu. Even the back entrance is spectacular with lots of marble and statues everywhere. The mooring is covered by CCTV and security men patrol the area.IMG_7034

This is Barton Square and the ornate covered bridge across to the main Mall. There is even and automated piano playing in a niche on the bridge.b3

There are all the usual shops and many more besides even a Hamleys toy shop. The restaurant area is vast and is separated from the shopping area so that you don’t get all the smells of cooked food whilst shopping. The main area is based on a cruise ship deck and even has a swimming pool and more food outlets than I have ever seen in one place.b4

Within the shopping mall there is a lovely dolphin fountain which shoots up  to the upper mall level every few minutes.20160504_124708

Returning to the boat without burning the plastic too much we headed off to the Barton Swing Aqueduct which takes the canal over the Manchester Ship Canal. It has to swung open with a full load of water when ever a large ship wishes to pass on route to Manchester.b1

I thought that this was a good joke, a mobility scooter stuck high up on the factory wall where they are made.

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Just before Parrin Lane bridge is this Lighthouse, a well know landmark for boaters.

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New houses have been developed on the entrance to Worsley and this lovely old black and white house marks the entrance to the old mine workings in the arm off to the right.b2

The towpath from Worsley is being upgraded and here the men are at work laying the new tarmac surface for several miles. I understand it is being paid for by Peel Holdings and Salford Council.

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We moored up for the day in a nice spot with lovely views over to the Pennines and got the chairs out for Tea and Cake enjoyed in glorious sunshine. The water here is as clear as a bell and you can see the weed on the bottom.

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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Water Everywhere–Tuesday 3rd May

Last nights mooring had lovely views over the River Weaver Valley and the Acton Swing Bridge. A little further on we passed where the major Dutton Breech had now been repaired making a lovely mooring area with magnificent views over the valley.a1

We made it to Dutton Stop Lock with plenty of time to go through Preston Brook Tunnel (on the hour) but what happened. First of all a hire boat was moored on the lock landing and the occupants were just waking up. A woman on a boat ahead of us in the lock was refusing to move the boat out and arguing with her husband who was working the lock. Eventually he got aboard and took the boat out and a single hander came in. As he was going out the hire boat decided to drift so stopping him and the guy on the bow decided to use the pole to push off from the bank. It slipped and he ended up in the water in front of Autumn Years. Eventually we were able to get in the lock and just made it into the tunnel at 9 minutes passed the hour. It took 13 minutes to transit. Autumn Years followed closely behind and was out before the half hour for transit time for the boats going south.

I moored up at Midland Chandlers to buy a new water pump as last night we discovered that it was leaking. The staff there were very helpful giving advice and enabling me to get an extra piece of wood cut and drilled to raise the height of the pump. Thank you Midland Chandlers.

We motored on along the wide and deep Bridgewater Canal with views over the yellow rape seed fields back to Runcorn.IMG_7009

We soon came across our first wide beam boat, one of many on the Bridgewater.

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We stopped at Moore to get a paper and bread at the village store and then came across these Tree Surgeons just cutting another dead tree down. If you look closely you can just see that it is falling forward.IMG_7015

A couple of unusual little boats spotted on todays trip.a2

Lymm was not as busy as usual and we could have moored there with its pretty black and white buildings and this delightful canal side cottage.

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The wind strengthened as we went down the long straight to Agden Bridge where we passed Nb Miss B Havin another of Sandhills boats. We stopped to fill with water just beyond the pipe bridge.IMG_7021

Motoring on we reached the Bollington Aqueduct where we moored up with beautiful to left over countryside and to the right to Dunham Massey House now almost hidden behind the spring growth.IMG_7023

Monday, 2 May 2016

Flashes and Lifts–Monday 2nd May

We made and early start to try and beat the band of rain due to sweep across the area later in the morning. We soon came to the Bramble Cuttings mooring with its rail track and loading ramp just like Wigan Peir. Broken Cross Boating Club has made a lovely job of restoring the old Clay Pit wharf and placing picnic tables and chairs along the bank.IMG_6968

Along this stretch of canal are several Flashes, areas of subsidence which have filled with water and wildfowl and reminds me very much of the Norfolk Broads scenery.IMG_6970

The new Park Farm Marina does not seem to have progressed much since we were here 4 years ago although there were a few boats now moored there.IMG_6976

I am always intrigued by the many and varied types of boats we see as we cruise along and here are a couple we spotted today.a2

Having travelled through lovely countryside we were suddenly in the heart of the Tata Chemical works at Northwich. Quite a shock to the system.a1

Outside the Lion Salt Works museum were moored the old working boats from the Black Country Museum, Kildare and The President, who gave us a couple of blasts on his steam whistle as we went by.IMG_6984

We moored up just before the rain started at the Anderton Boat Lift and had a our lunch whilst we waited for the rain to pass. We went down onto the River Weaver via the lift last time we were here and so I only went to have a look around the shop. The cafe was full with visitors having lunch.IMG_6989

The rain stopped just after 1.00 pm so we set off again and passed this effigy of a pirate watching over the passing boats.IMG_6994

The banks on this length of the canal are covered with wild Garlic and Bluebells making it a very pleasant journey particularly when the sun came out.a3

At the entrance to the Barnton Tunnel we had to wait whilst two boats came through from the north. At least it is straight enough to be able to see the other end.

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We approached the Saltersford Tunnel right on the hour which meant we could go straight through. Boats travelling north have right of passage from the top of the hour to 20 mins past. and those travelling south from the half hour for 20 mins. It is only 202 yds long but is very twisty and at one point I could not see Autumn Years which was travelling just a few yds in front of me as it negotiated the bends.

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We motored on for a short while and moored up for the night over looking the River Weaver and its pretty valley.

Although we have seen lots of swans on their nests and others with eggs these were the first signets we have seen as they gently swam by during the afternoon.IMG_7006

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Oyster Catchers on show – Sunday 1st May

This morning we made an early start and moved 3 boat lengths to the water point next to Barchetta’s  Restaurant where we went last night.IMG_6951

Could not resist this picture of the new captain of Autumn Myst in her usual pose.IMG_6952

We motored on to the old Elton Moss Boatyard which has now been demolished and the site cleared.

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At the far end of the site this nice new house is beng built, I suspect for the owner of Elton Moss as it it is much grander than the houses in the surrounding estate.IMG_6954

This boat is not what we like to see on the cut. Great shame as it looked as though it had been a nice boat.IMG_6956

Opposite Albion Lock another new estate is being built around this lovely old Tudor house.IMG_6958

As we approached the Salt works now owned by Tata Chemicals we spotted an Oyster catcher on her nest. At first we could not decide if it was rubbish or not as it was well disguised but its partner flying across the canal gave the game away.oystercatcher

There is still piles of salt around the works even though it is greatly reduced in size.IMG_6959

Moored just before Kings Lock is this old steam vessel with is chimney smoking, Nb Emily Jane.IMG_6963

This stretch of canal into Middlewich follows the road and on the opposite side to the pub is the well know Fish and Chip Shop which we have frequented in the past.IMG_6965

The canal had been very quiet until we were going down the Middlewich 3 and there we met 2 boats coming up and this hire boat had great difficulty turning the tight right hand bend into the top lock. This is when a girly button  (Bow Thruster)is very useful.IMG_6966

We moored up by the park and went shopping to Tesco before moving off into the quiet of the countryside outside the town. I say quiet but being a bank holiday the afternoon was a continual stream of hire boats going in both directions.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Heartbreak Hill - Saturday 30th April

The sun woke us up early this morning and so we were off early only to find that Nb Jenny had the same idea and was in the first lock so we had to follow them all the way to Rode Heath where they stopped for breakfast. On the way down we passed Rob the Lock helping 3 single handers up the flight and he was his usual happy self.

We called in the shop at Rode for a paper and then carried on reaching the locks by the Romping Donkey. The cafe and shop at the side of the lock seemed to have closed and it looked to be a normal house now! We had a couple of unexpected short but sharp hail showers en route but I suppose that it is April still.

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We passed a Hotel boat coming up the next lock and then went under the busy M6 Motorway. How nice it is to be pootling along rather than dashing at 70 mph. IMG_6944

Lock 63 was always a narrow lock and required us to raise our side fenders (wash your mouth out) but C& RT were refurbishing the offside lock. It looked as though they had replaced the lower gates and paddle gear.

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Nearing the bottom of the flight June was operating the locks and I was steering and here she is walking over the bridge to the arm which houses the Malkins Bank Canal Services Boat Yard.

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We moored up just below the last lock and G & C came in for coffee.

Later we went to Barchetta, the Italian Restaurant by the services for dinner and had an excellent meal.