Wednesday 13 July 2016

Summer Cruise Day 3 - Middlewich to Rough Bridge

At 5:40am this morning Chris and I were abruptly woken by AmyJo lurching on her mooring lines and a boat roaring past at speed with the crew shouting at each other to be heard above the roar of the engine.  By the time I came to my senses they were long gone.  Those of you, like me, of a mature disposition know upon waking the call of nature is insurmountable.  Having attended to this I crept back under the duvet as the cabin was cold and soon fell back to sleep.

As a result of this neither of us woke before 8:30 and it was nearly 10:00am before we got under way. 

Neighbours keep a watchful eye on passing boats
 First order of the day was Wardle lock and the junction.   As before we took our place in the queue and were second boat down after waiting for a hire boat to ascend.  On exiting the bridge 'ole and turning for Kings lock I found this was tighter than usual as Kings Chandlers had thoughtfully left nb Lost in the Mist right opposite the junction.  I had barely a few feet to turn AmyJo which I managed without hitch.

Having descended the lock I make my turn at the junction

Only feet to spare between bow and stern
 Having got used to the ample space of the Shroppie's double locks we found the Trent and Mersey lock seem very narrow.

AmyJo seems to only just squeeze into King's lock
 On leaving Kings lock the canal seems vast and wide but this does not last long as it narrows just before the next lock, Rumps Lock.  After this lock the canal follows the A533 for a few miles.  A constant reminder that Middlewich and it's cousin, Northwich, are salt towns as a salt factory on the outskirts of Middlewich is still operating.

The wide after Kings Lock

Salt mountain similar to the one on the Weaver by Northwich

Refined salt waiting to be bagged and loaded onto lorries for delivery

Further on and past the Chemical works are Booth Lane Locks.  Here all the locks are doubled allowing boats to lock up and down at the same time.  However, between middle lock and top lock we came across a wreck partially blocking the cut.  Navigation with care was possible keeping well over to the offside.  It's location is going to make removal difficult as getting a crane in looks impossible and judging from the state of the hull it will never float without several patches being applied first.

This wooden hulk clearly was not going to float again.  Damage can be seen on the stern corner.

This photo shows how the hulk is hindering navigation
 Continuing on we passed the now derelict Elton Moss boat yard with signs of redevelopment well under way in the form of new "des res's"
Canalside new build

The old Elton Moss wharf is just out of shot on the left of picture above
I recalled as we passed along this stretch back in 2005 on hire boat Oliver Ginger that most of the area was run down and derelict but not now.  All along the canal large suburban housing developments are springing up giving this stretch a much needed revival.

This development stretched on for nearly 2 miles.
At Wheelock we stopped at the services to dispose of some rubbish and take on water.  The pressure here is good so it was not long filling.  We then started our ascend  up the Wheelock Locks.

Services at Wheelock
Most of these locks are duplicated allowing boats to lock up and down at the same time.  Chris would check which lock was best to use and set it informing me by radio which chamber I should head for.  We were making good time working together.  Chris working the paddles to the lock whilst Amyjo was in it then, when nearly full Chris would move to the next lock to set that whilst I motored out of the current lock when full and closed the gate using our slow tickover reverse method we used on the Hatton flight a few years ago.

At lock 63 we were surprised to find the bow of a working boat across the cut in the pound above.  It looked odd, seeming to try and wind but there was no winding hole here.  A quick glance at the pearsons revealed no winding hole either but a closer look showed a very small wharf off to the right.  Sure enough as I passed it all was revealed.

the Strange appearance of the working boat bow

All revealed as this small wharf was tucked away off to the right of the pound
 The new housing developments make this a pleasant stretch through the locks but, ever present were  ominous black clouds ahead.  Fortunately rain never came but instead the sun shone in defiance.

Picturesque section of the Wheelock locks.

The black clouds threaten but never delivered fortunately
 Another strange site at lock 60, I think it was, was what appeared to be an underground house with just its chimney above ground.  A nearby church gives away that in fact the house is actually lower than the fields.

Either VERY tall hedges or a folly :-)  No just a house lower then the field.
 Our last lock of the day, no. 57,  had some moorings shown in the Pearsons just upstream but on leaving the lock, and Mrs duck basking in the sun on its abutments, we eventually found them purely by luck.  They were only apparent by the change in concrete to armco.  Even the rings provided were buried in long grass.  Chris only found these because she nearly tripped over one.  Its a good enough spot for the night even if the busy M6 noise is constant in the distance.  After working 16 locks today that won't bother us tonight and we are both ready for bed.

Do not disturb if you please I'm enjoying this warm concrete
Total distance:7.94 miles Elapsed time:7h43m50s Locks:16 Bridges:30 
Average speed:1.03 mph (3.10 lock/mph) 

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