Time to go

A three night mooring at the Bridgewater Marina at Boothstown (on the Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal) had been a very positive experience. On arrival the manager (Dave?) had pointed out which pontoon to tie up to with the words: “There it is, all ready for you, with electric hook up and water.” His tone was similar to that of a proud B&B owner who’d say, “Your room’s all ready for you, top of the stairs, fresh towels on the bed, breakfast at 8…”

He was an observant chap too, the marina manager. “Got twin throttles there,” he said, on gazing into Cleddau’s engine room.

The Captain responded in usual style, “Yes, my wife is 5 foot 1 and totally right-handed; my daughter’s 5 foot 2 and totally left-handed…” There were jokes about the boat having twin screws too (propellers). All in all it was a friendly, helpful place: one boater warned that it was raining, important when the whirligig washing line is up and items are pegged to it while on a different occasion another boater pointed out that there was a washing machine and tumble drier on site for boaters’ use…

It was time to go on Monday – by then a text reminder from C&RT  had arrived to warn that visiting time was running out on the Bridgewater Canal.

Off Cleddau set, back the mile or so to Worsley, catching a glimpse this time of a RHS road sign.

Worsley, famed for its Duke of Bridgewater coal mines and heritage buildings , has spawned new housing in recent years. There are large houses for the affluent and houses too for which the word “twee” comes to mind (notice the dry stone walls).

Onward, over the Barton Swing Aqueduct, the high rises of Manchester visible to the east and the M60 to the west.

Right turn at Waters Meeting and Cleddau was back on the main Bridgewater line. Back through Stretford, Sale and Altrincham, past Dunham Massey (and its watermill)   to Lymm. Somewhere Blue Vole was moored (why that name?) and somewhere a faceless fisherman fished and fished…

It was pleasing to see youngsters out on the water: at Trafford Rowing Club the Learn To Row courses were in full swing while further along families had hired canoes for fun and picnics afloat.

Near Lymm one boater seemed to be preparing for a great flood… Before the Deluge

After an overnight mooring at Lymm (for cupboard re-stocking) Cleddau set off on Tuesday with distance to cover and clocks to watch…

Under the M6 near the Thelwall Viaduct, then Grappenhall – Stockton Heath – Higher Walton – Moore – Daresbury, all pleasant enough places to pass through.

Approaching the Runcorn Arm the Captain began to do cruise calculations: the Preston Brook tunnel lay ahead, at what time might Cleddau reach it? If progress is maintained all would be well, but anglers, moored boats and other boats approaching can slow down the rate…

There was an angler, there were boats approaching, there were boats manoeuvring just past the Runcorn Arm and there was a close encounter at the last bridge hole before the tunnel.

Then there was the tunnel   – reached at 21 minutes to the hour, so decision made: moor up, have a quiet lunch, wait for north-travelling boats to emerge and be ready to go on the half hour…

30 minutes after the hour – time to go, through the northern portal to emerge at the southern end, now back on the Trent and Mersey Canal. By mid-afternoon Cleddau and crew were moored again at the Dutton Breach site, with just the sound of distant trains from across the Weaver Valley and the company of a gang of very noisy coots…

Timing was of the essence on Wednesday – two tunnels, a stop at the services and a 1330 Anderton Lift booking…

There was waiting at Saltersford Tunnel   and waiting at Barnton Tunnel, but the boat was serviced in plenty of time for the descent to the Weaver. (This is why boaters sometimes complain about the state of C&RT service areas… )

There was time then for a little bit of “gongoozling”:  Anderton Boat Lift as seen from the river level

Water levelled, gate rising

Trip boat emerging

As filmed by a drone.

By 1310 it was time to go, beckoned into the canal basin and onto the left hand aqueduct. A shorter boat was already there and Cleddau slid in alongside it. Far below two breasted up workboats were progressing upstream towards Northwich. The aqueduct was sealed behind, the gate ahead raised  and the boats moved forward ready to descend, the rear gate sealing the boats into the caisson.

View from the bow down to the river

There were clanks and whirs. High above the centre of the lift gate for each caisson is a winch. The slack was taken up on a wire to the right, from far below there was the sound of water moving and of a boat arriving. More clanks and whirs, the boat below being sealed in ready for its ascent.

The clanking stopped. Was there a slight buzz? Then quietly, almost imperceptibly, the caisson began to descend. Gently, gently it descended as gently, gently the other caisson began to rise. Up it came, The Edwin Clark, the widebeam trip boat.

The fifty feet drop from canal to river was over, Cleddau and Ruby had arrived on the Weaver.

Which way would each boat turn, left to go upstream to Northwich and Winsford (11¾ miles, 2 locks) or right to cruise downstream to catch sight of the Manchester Ship Canal, the Mersey and Runcorn (12 miles, 2 locks)?

(Answer next time!)

Boothstown to Anderton: 35 miles, 1 lock, 3 tunnels, 1 boat lift

(Monkton Moment*- a reference to / recognition of Cleddau’s Pembrokeshire connections) .                       2021 Monkton Moments* total now: 8

Lancashire / Yorkshire / Tudor Rose conversations: 2

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