South west for winter: Day 5

Day 5: Leaf drop day

Hassall Green to Wheelock: 2 miles, 10 locks

Away, away from the noise!

The M6 is a constant presence at Hassall Green: when inside the boat cabin the traffic roar is just a faint and indistinct background sound, but outside the noise is inescapable.

Down through Lock 57,    with just a wistful last look at what had been (until about four years ago) a delightful day and evening refreshment stop. 

Locks 58 (a pair) are visible from the southbound motorway – if you know when to look.    It’s quite noticeable though that once a boat drops down inside the lock chamber the noise is far less sharp    – and once you walk or cruise underneath a motorway bridge the noise is even more muted.

A couple of hundred yards beyond the motorway bridge is what the local lady yesterday called “our little bridge”.     And, yes, it does look pretty small in comparison to the mighty motorway structures.

Offside by the next lock was a wall of flaming red foliage – sheer visual treat! 

The locks come frequently. The paddle gear on some is painfully stiff and rusted up. It was encouraging therefore at Lock 60 to see some maintenance work going on, the cogs of the paddle gear being painstakingly cleaned out and new grease being applied. 

There’s a golf course at Malkin’s Bank, its clubhouse close to the canal.     Somehow it seems a more prominent presence these days, an A board enticing towpath users to buy refreshments (on an eat in or a takeaway basis).  A peep across the road from the bridge at the bottom end of the lock revealed flags and signs for a golf shop…      not the retail opportunity that boaters usually relish!

Onward – 3 locks still to go. FALL. How abruptly has come the change from leaf glory to leaf fall… Suddenly the grass areas were carpeted with leaves ; lock beams and lock gate platforms had become leaf sprinkled.

Two locks later Wheelock had been reached.    Tomorrow’s journeying looks as if it will be through leaf soup!     Perhaps the forecast winds will clear the decks and roof! 

Canal side Wheelock has a services area    and just along the (traffic busy) street is a small shop. Is there anything else to this village was the challenge Boatwif set herself this afternoon. Despite a bypass the Crewe-Sandbach road passes through and traffic seems heavy.  A pet food place dominates the main street, a Congregational Church is an attractive building up the hill towards Sandbach

  and there is a large Methodist Church.     The building on the Crewe Road with the attractive roof patterning is used by the Plymouth Brethren.


Often seen from the canal (in the Middlewich direction) is a Kingdom Hall (Jehovah’s Witness Church)    . A Google search has revealed that there is also an Anglican Church, (not discovered on Boatwif’s stroll). So Wheelock has an abundance of worship places – if only it wasn’t blighted by the road traffic…

Leaf soup permitting Cleddau will cruise on tomorrow, 14¼ miles, 7 locks still to go.

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