New Waters

From England - Wales Border to The Queen's Head PH (Montgomery Canal), a distance of 19 miles, 2½ flg and 11 locks.

We got up to a slightly misty and damp morning which made the Moss look even more desolate and eery than it normally does.

But the sun soon burned through the mist and the cloud and it was quite pleasant by the time we made it to Blakemere Visitor Moorings

Fisherman at the mere
Looking across the mere.

A couple of boats had cast off in front of us and we were at the tail end of a little convoy as we approached the tunnel.

As we exited Ellesmere Tunnel (western entrance) we met an ice-cream boat ( I don’t think they were going to do much business) who seemed to be intent on going into the tunnel with just a small hand held torch for a light (They did actually have a front headlight but it was obscured by what looked like a storage cupboard).

We had to pull into the bank immediately after Red Bridge No 58 to let Mountbatten and Jellico past as there were just a few too many boats milling round the Ellesmere Branch Junction

The section from Ellesmere on is quite pretty as the canal winds its way through the open countryside but at times it does feel like you’re not really making any progress and I was anxiously checking the time as I really didn’t want us to miss our booking.

We got to Frankton Junction and there were three boats moored up – two were going down and one was just moored up and doing some painting.

Commemorative plaque on the Lock Keeper’s Hut at the top lock.

We seemed to sit round for ages – which is odd because the locks themselves seemed quite quick.

Boat leaving the bottom lock of the staircase.
Looking down to the next lock from the staircase.
Looking back to the staircase from below.
House on the offside above the bottom lock.
Leaving the bottom lock

We left the bottom lock and the canal ahead looked almost abandoned – it was full of reeds and seemed to be extremely shallow as we made almost no headway at any revs, even at tickover and I was seriously concerned about how far we’d actually get. But as we approached Weston Arm Junction the canal suddenly widened and got deeper.

Graham Palmer Lock No 4 was added when they restored the canal to counter changes in ground levels since the canal shut and so is only a few inches deep. Sheltered in the trees to one side is the memorial to Graham Palmer the founder of the Waterways Recovery Group.

Photo of the Graham Palmer memorial at lock 4
The memorial to Graham Palmer. The image is a recent replacement as the memorial stone is very soft and the original carving had deteriorated.

The canal along this section could have good views but in many places trees and shrubs hide most of it, but the sun was shining so it was quite pleasant.

There is a long straight between Perry Aqueduct and Keeper’s Bridge No 73 and although you are level with the ground the trees and bushes almost make it feel like you are in a cutting. There isn’t really much left of Keepers Bridge – just a narrowing of the canal, and the vague remains of  a track on the towpath side of the canal.

From Green Wicket Corner to Rednal Basin the canal runs in another long straight – which sort of makes sense : if you’re building a canal across a moss then why bother putting bends in unless they’re absolutely necessary.

Rednal Basin is a bit of a let down really – the entrance has a fixed low level bridge and there is nowhere to moor up and go explore the nature reserve that has been established as part of the canal restoration.

Rednal Basin entrance
The entrance to Rednal Basin – now an “offline” nature reserve

A couple of bends brings you to Heath House Railway Bridge and a nicely restored canalside packet house, and the start of another long straight down to The Queen’s Head PH (Montgomery Canal) where there are some moorings and two bridges for the A5. Queen’s Head Bridge No 76 was built when the canal was restored and replaced the original bridge that had basically been flattened – it can’t have been cheap to do.

The rebuilt Queen's Head bridge
The rebuilt Queen’s Head bridge

Then a few years later they built a bypass and put the A5 on the higher level Queen’s Head Bridge No 76A leaving the original bridge to basically just take a small amount of local traffic.

The new Queen's Head Bridge
The new Queen’s Head Bridge

The first of the three Aston locks marks the start of another long straight. Alongside Aston Top Lock No 5 there is a nature reserve which was built when they restored the locks to move plants and wild life out of the canal channel. I think this canal is the only place where this has happened and it must have added a significant cost to the overall restoration.

Considering that the number of boats allowed on the canal each day is limited the locks were in very good condition and easy to work and with only the two of us we made very good time through them.

Park Mill Bridge Winding Hole is immediately before Park Mill Bridge No 78 but it’s actually hard to work out where the canal goes as you approach it.

Park Mill Bridge and Winding Hole
Park Mill Bridge from the Winding Hole

The [[CP:The Navigation Inn (Maesbu

ry)|cf04]] marks the centre of the only real settlement you’ll find on this part of the canal  – it’s about twice the size of Queen’s Head, but it seemed to closed as we passed so we didn’t stop. There is a CRT services block by Maesbury Marsh Bridge No 79 and a rather fine crane on the wharf.

Maesbury Wharf Crane
The Crane at Maesbury Wharf

Gronwyn Wharf marks the end of the current navigation although there is a good length of canal in water beyond this point there isn’t another winding hole.

Gronwyn Wharf
Gronwyn Wharf – the current end of the canal

We then made our way slowly back up the canal before stopping and going to the pub for the evening. The Queen’s Head isn’t a bad pub at all – the food was good as was the beer. It was quiet but given the Covid epidemic that wasn’t unexpected and we were just about the last people to leave.

Lock opening times and some recalculations.

From Martin's Bridge No 3 to England - Wales Border, a distance of 18 miles, 4¾ flg and 15 locks.

It was a little cool over night but we woke to clearish, sunny skies and headed off up the canal. We’d done some calculations based on the opening times at Frankton Locks and we had two options – push on a lot today and get there before noon on Monday or not push on and get there for opening time on Tuesday. As the second option seemed to be pretty much a waste of a day we decided that, barring hold ups at Grindley Brook, we’d go for a Monday morning passage. It would mean stopping out in the middle of nowhere overnight but with Covid and the fact that we had a lot of beer on the boat it wasn’t really that much of an issue.

Spey was moored up just before Ravensmoor Wharf Winding Hole and looked all locked up and secure so I guess they weren’t planning on moving any more over the weekend. Burland Pipe Bridge no longer seems to exist – to the extent that there isn’t even any sign of it at all. We got up the two Swanley locks with no problems but there was a bit of a tail back round Baddiley Lock No 7 due to faulty top paddle – which although it was a bit of a pain actually helped space the boats going upstream out a little. One of the boats coming down had managed to do something unpleasant to their rudder on Grindley Brook and were limping their way down to Swanley Bridge Marina

We exited Baddiley Lock No 9 with just one boat visible ahead of us and they were moving at a pace so we could move at a good speed without catching them up. When we got to Wrenbury Church Lift Bridge No 19 we found that they were stopping at Wrenbury for lunch (which they made in plenty of time) and so we went through Wrenbury Lift Bridge No 20 by ourselves. The boatyard was just about empty and we found out that every yard on the canal had almost all of their boats out on the canal.

We got to Willeymoor Lock No 12 and thought about stopping for a drink, but now we knew how many boats were out on the canal we decided to push on. Whilst we were waiting for the lock Nick popped in and got a takeout for later in the day.

Grindley Brook is notorious for delays but when we arrived at the bottom lock we didn’t have to wait for very long at all. It was when we got into Grindley Brook Lock No 15 that the problems began. There were boats above the top lock waiting for the staircase and a boat sitting in the top lock and two boats waiting in the pound. We slipped in at the back of the queue and started the wait.
Mintball waiting for the lock

More boats came up behind us and things started getting a bit crowded.

The queue grows behind us

One of the boats coming down was a hireboat and they apologised that they were slow because their throttle wasn’t working. There were various conversations about what the problem could be and I offered to have a look. A quick look under the deck revealed the problem – the nut holding the throttle cable bolt in place had dropped off and the cable had bounced out. I had a quick check in the bilge which was very clean – it was a very new boat – but couldn’t see the nut. I showed them what the problem was and showed them how to reseat the cable and off they went. So that was my good deed for the day.

They were letting 4 boats up and 4 boats down the staircase which meant we didn’t make the first group going up so we had to sit in the pound below the staircase and wait. It didn’t help that one more boat came up through the top lock than really should have done which made it awkward for the boats coming down the staircase but we muddled through it.

The lockies on Grindley Brook Staircase Locks Nos 17 to 19 know their stuff and know how to work the locks as quickly as possible but we almost didn’t make it into the middle of the three locks as there wasn’t much water between us and the cill. But we made it without getting stuck and were soon out of the staircase and on our way.

We fairly flew along until New Mills Lift Bridge No 31 where we had to wait whilst two boats manoeuvred in and out of the Whitchurch arm. There was an amazing smell of cooking coming from a boat moored on the Whitchurch Offside Visitor Moorings and I told them that when they stuck their heads out to see what was going on.

All the Viking Afloat boats at Whitchurch Marina were out but there seemed to be quite a few people busy in the yard tidying things up. We played leap frog with another boat through the two Hassell’s swing bridges and Tilstock Park Lift Bridge No 42. They were a little on the slow side but we ended up in front after the last lift bridge as we headed down the long run to Morris Lift Bridge No 45 and by the time we got their they were a little spot in the distance so we didn’t hold the bridge for them. We headed through Whixall Moss Junction and moored up just past the Moss visitor moorings for the night.

Down and then Up Again

From Tom's Moorings to Martin's Bridge No 3, a distance of 14 miles, 6 flg and 26 locks.

We travelled up on Friday night and had a pleasant evening on the moorings drinking some bottled beer. We’d left the fridge on from last weekend so we could just load it all up. We put the cool blocks in the bottom to act as thermal ballast. It was an early night – I think we were both in bed before 11pm!


We woke to a cool but clear morning, in fact a lot of the days were like that over the course of the week, and slipped away from the moorings. Apart from a couple of people walking dogs on the towpath there was no-one around at all and we made good time to Adderley Top Lock No 8 and started down the flight. The locks seem to be an odd mix of full, partially full, and empty but with no obvious pattern.

As we approached Audlem Top Lock Visitor Moorings a boat cast off and started down the locks and we basically joined the back end of a small queue of boats heading down. There were a lot of boats coming up too so we basically had to wait a bit at each lock – so even though there were only 2 of us we actually couldn’t have made it down the locks any faster. We pulled in on Audlem Vistor Moorings (above wharf) and we headed off to the Pub and the Co-Op. Nick went to the shop and I went to the pub and found that it only opened at noon, so I sat round waiting for Nick and then we sat round for a few more minutes until the pub opened and our order was taken promptly by a member of staff who brought our drinks to our table.

This was the first pint of hand pulled beer I’d had since the lockdown

First pint of Real Ale since lockdown… it was nectar

and it tasted pretty damned good. It was a little warm but the second one was perfect. We sat there in the sun, relaxing, and it was so tempting to have a third and basically stop for the day but we really thought we should push on a little more. So it was back to the boat and down past the wharf

The Shroppie Fly
The Shroppie Fly

We knew we wanted to eat out on the last night so Nick popped in as we waited for the lock and booked a table for the following Saturday.

When the lock was about 3/4 empty a boat cast off from the waterpoint below the lock (they’d been moored on the waterpoint at the wharf when we’d been sitting outside the pub) and proceeded to make its way slowly down the canal with its engine noise drowned out by the yapping of the dog on the back deck. They apologised to Nick for the barking dog but not for pulling out in front of us.

We got to the bottom lock and made our way past the moored up boats and then met a boat coming the other way who wanted us to speed up to try to pull them off “the ledge” as “it’s pretty big here”, but of course by the time he told me that we were almost past him anyway. I think if he’d dropped his speed a little bit he might have drifted out with no real problems.

The boat in front of us was only going as far as Overwater Marina and they seemed to be making good speed – which of course you can along this section of canal. There wasn’t much traffic moving and we made good time to Nantwich where, for once, the moorings weren’t totally full… there were however two boats moored on the no mooring section opposite Nantwich Sanitary Station, one was a boat with some young women on it and one was a “working boat” who really should have known better.

We arrived at Hurleston Junction Visitor Moorings (south) to find relative chaos – boats coming down, boats wanting to go up and queuing from both sides of the junction. I held the boat and Nick leapt off taking one of the Cobra Walkie Talkies with him – he wandered round and talked to everyone and established that we were the fifth boat in the queue to go up. One of the boats going up was an old wooden Thos Clayton oil boat called “Spey” – this was the first time up the canal because until Hurleston Bottom Lock No 1 was rebuilt they’d never been able to fit up the flight – they fitted through there but they were a little worried about lock four but said if they didn’t fit they’d pull to the side and let everyone else go through. However they did fit and after about an hour we started up the flight. One of the boats in front of us had an early evening table reserved at The Dusty Miller which there was no way they were going to be able to make, even if they hadn’t been delayed. Although there were other boats going up the progress was swift and before we knew it we were out of the top lock. We decided we’d move a bit away from the locks and moor up for the night – so we stopped just before the bridge, where we had some beautiful views over the countryside and tucked into a chicken casserole that had been sitting in the slow cooker all afternoon.

Sunset across the fields

An Autum Jaunt into Wales

2020 has not been a good year for boating and with so much of lockdown still in place the traditional September holiday couldn’t take place. But we were determined to get out on the boat for a bit so this trip was just the two of us…. Originally we were going to do all of the Llangollen but it was rammed full of hireboats and wasn’t actually enjoyable so we changed our plans mid trip and instead of doing the top bit of the Llangollen we did the Shroppie down towards Chester

Starting at Tom's Moorings and finishing at Tom's Moorings with overnight stops at : Martin's Bridge No 3, England - Wales Border, The Queen's Head PH (Montgomery Canal), New Marton Bottom Lock No 2, Povey's Lock No 13, Bunbury Railway Bridge No 105A, Beeston Stone Lock No 33, and Snows Bridge No 77. A total distance of 148 miles, 6¾ flg and 114 locks.

The way back home.

From Audlem Vistor Moorings (above wharf) to Tom's Moorings, a distance of 5 miles, 5½ flg and 16 locks.

There was a bit of a scramble of boats setting off from the moorings and we were in a queue of boats going up the locks – but they were, for the most part, moderately quick and efficient and we never really had to wait long at any of the locks.

The pound between Audlem Top Lock No 13 and Adderley Bottom Lock No 12 isn’t the longest pound in the world but it seems to do a good job of spreading boats out so that the queues going up Adderley aren’t ever really very long – but the speed of the locks vary wildly so sometimes you end up sitting round for a bit in the middle of the flight.

We got back to the moorings, ate, packed, tidied up the boat and headed off home.

It’s uphill all the way…

From Newton Brewery Inn to Audlem Vistor Moorings (above wharf), a distance of 20 miles, 2½ flg and 13 locks.

It was wet and miserable when we got up and we made our way slowly up through the locks to Middlewich Junction and onto the Middlewich branch. We had to wait for a bit at Stanthorne Lock No 3 whilst some boats moved around and some rather damp C&RT staff stood around looking miserable – not that you could blame them as it was pretty unpleasant.

.

It’s just about impossible to shelter from the rain at Minshull Lock No 2 but if the wind is in the right direction then a little bit of shelter can be found by either hiding under the trees on the towpath or squeezing in tight against the wall of the old lock keepers cottage.

There is even less shelter at Cholmondeston Lock No 1 and the section of canal above the lock was extremely grim.

The rain just got heavier and heavier and by the time we got to Acton Bridge No 93 it was actually hurting when it hit you in the face. I was all for giving up at Nantwich but we carried on through the rain, which backed off a little bit so by the time we got to Hack Green Bottom Lock No 29 it was only moderately unpleasant. Working those two locks in the rain isn’t fun as you need to take care as the lock sides, especially the offside, are slippery (though not as bad as some of the ones on the Audlem Flight). Strangely enough there weren’t any other boats moving (I wonder why) so when we got to Audlem Bottom Lock No 27 we made good time, even though we were slowed down by the conditions underfoot and we moored up for the night with plenty of time to warm up and dry off before heading off to The Lord Combermere for an excellent final evening meal.

Is it time for another wich inspired title?

From Lymm Visitor Moorings to Newton Brewery Inn, a distance of 27 miles, 2¼ flg and 2 locks.

It wasn’t the best of weather when we started off but it actually managed to get a little worse as the day went on which given how the weather had been recently shouldn’t have surprised us one little bit.

There were boats moving round at Stockton Quay Bridge No 15 – including a couple of days boats : I guess if you’ve booked a boat you have to take it no matter how foul the weather gets. I hope they’d stocked up on tea and coffee because they were going to need it!

But apart from that flurry of activity the canal was, once again, pretty much deserted, not even the fishermen were out, and once again Daresbury seemed to be abandoned with not even any lights on.

The towpath at Preston Brook Tunnel (northern entrance) was turning into a quagmire and it actually was nice to get into the tunnel and away from the damp.

The rain had backed off a little by the time we exited the tunnel but it was still a pretty miserable day and the run along the side of the Weaver Valley wasn’t unpleasant but it wasn’t anything to write home about.

After mooring we ate on board and then went and did a small pub crawl round Middlewich.

Detour to Lymn

From Northwich Visitor Moorings to Lymm Visitor Moorings, a distance of 19 miles, 5 flg and 1 lock.

The two week holiday had been planned with quite a bit of slack in it and we didn’t need to get back to the moorings before the weekend so we decided that we’d take a bit of a detour from the planned trip and head over to Lymn – it’s an easy run and the town has some good pubs, so why not?

We were on the first up passage on the Anderton lift. As both caissons are kept at the River Weaver level overnight the first run in the morning is always up from the River (with no matching down) so you end up with one caisson at each level. We shared the lift with another boat and as we wanted to turn in the winding hole we let them out first as they had told us they were heading towards Middlewich. We followed them out and turned in [CP:Anderton Winding Hole|576n]] and then headed off north. Just past Soot Hill Bridge No 200 the canal enters a small wooded area and you immediately feel miles away from Anderton and the chemical works on the banks of the Weaver. This tranquillity doesn’t last long as you soon reach Barnton Road Bridge which sits at a silly angle to the canal, on a bend with the canal narrowing just before you get to it – Joy!

We pulled in at Bartington Wharf and got a pump out where the boatyard cat checked out the boat from the towpath, and then we continued on our way to Dutton Stop Lock No 76 which was a complete pain to operate as the water was flowing over the gates as fast as the paddles let it out. We had to wait for about 10 minutes before we could go into the tunnel – it would have been nice if there hadn’t been two abandoned fibreglass cruisers tied up on the holding moorings but luckily we were the only boat waiting to go through.

The Bridgewater was even quieter than the Trent and Mersey and with very few boats moored up we were able to move at a good speed. The research centre at Daresbury seemed as desolate as ever – there never seems to be anyone there, no-one wandering round, no-one sitting on of the many benches – it’s all very odd.

Lymn was quite quiet in terms of moored boats – not that there was any room on the offside due to very inconsiderate mooring by about 5 boats. We went to Lymm Wharf Winding Hole , turned round and moored up for the night on the towpath.  We ate at Grill on the Cross – a Greek restaurant before ending up for the night in the Lymn brewery tap.

To the Flashes!

From Acton Swing Bridge to Northwich Visitor Moorings, a distance of 16 miles, 6¾ flg and 5 locks.

We woke to rain again and that pretty much was the weather for the whole of the day. The only good thing about rain on a river is that most of the crew can hide inside and keep dry, leaving just the helmsman looking like a drowned rat.

We gave one of the Lockies at Hunt’s Locks No 2 a lift up to Vale Royal Locks No 1 as they were down a couple of men and he advised us to be back at Vale Royal earlier than normal to ensure that we could get through the locks and back to Northwich for the night. We didn’t see that as a problem as the weather wasn’t exactly the sort that encourages you to dawdle and admire the scenery.

This bridge marks the end of the Weaver Navigation
Winsford Bottom Flash – it’s navigable but we decided not to risk it.

We swung round and pulled onto the visitor moorings in Winsford Marina. We’re not really sure why it’s called that as there seem to be no actual marina facilities – but maybe they are hoping that sometime someone will come along and set some up. We had a good brunch and then cast off, backed up into the flashes and then headed off back down stream.

The moorings at Winsford Marina
The moorings at Winsford Marina
The start of the Weaver Navigation.

We pulled in immediately below Winsford Bridge (eastbound) on the moorings for The Red Lion and dashed in for a quick pint, keeping an eye on the time as we knew we had to get back to Vale Royal locks to guarantee that we could get back through Hunt’s lock before they closed for the day.

Last Winding Hole
This really isn’t anything to worry about in a narrow boat on the Weaver Navigation

Although Northwich, and its sister town Middlewich are known for their salt production, and a lot of the buildings in Northwich stand on jacks so they can be lifted as the ground sinks, there is very little sign of the industry that gave the town their names. At Middlewich there are some large salt piles and a processing plant but alongside the Weaver is a fully functional rock salt mine with its winding tower, and large piles of salt of course!

Salt union
A real working salt mine!

The small streams and feeders into the river were carrying a lot more water than they had when we’d gone upstream even though it had only been a few hours earlier and some of them actually had enough flow on them to affect us as we cruised through them and the river seemed to have come up a bit by the time we arrived at Newbridge Swing Bridge which looked even lower going downstream than it did coming upstream.

Newbridge Swing Bridge
This is a low bridge – there is a gauge showing headroom on the central island
Newbridge Swing Bridge
if we hadn’t already gone through it slowly we’d have been wondering if we’d actually fit
Newbridge Swing Bridge
We fit, with a few inches to spare

The Weaver locks are fine examples of Victorian engineering being both practical and well designed – unlike canal locks which have ladders bolted to the side the Weaver locks have wonderful iron ladder plates, with hand and feet holes in them, built into the lock wall itself

Hunt's Locks No 2
Step ladder

The gates are operated on mechanical cranks, rather than by hand or by hydraulic rams, which are powered by water turbines run off the flow of the water in the river – so they are a great example of “Green” engineering.

Hunt's Locks No 2
Gate mechanism
Hunt's Locks No 2
Gate mechanism
Vale Royal Locks
Gate mechanism

The rain had just about stopped by now and the sun was even trying to come out as we cruised down the last couple of miles through Northwich which meant we could actually admire some of the larger boats moored up along the bank.

Parfield, Northwich
Built at Northwich in 1952
Normandy II, Northwich
Tugboat built in 1934

We pulled up onto the end of the moorings leaving space for a couple of boats in front of us and headed off into town to explore and have a few beers. The moorings are secured by a locked gate so they are quite safe. The new retail development by the river is huge, and pretty much empty – at times it felt like we were walking round the set for a post-apocalypse film. But don’t let this put you off, the town has a lot to offer away from the new development.

Northwich
There are a lot of mock Tudor buildings in the town
Northwich
Former Cinema
Northwich
Public Library and Salt Museum

We ate at the Bombay Quay and then headed off to Barons Lounge for a last couple of pints before heading back to the boat.

Down to the Mersey

From The Paint Shed Moorings to Acton Swing Bridge, a distance of 20 miles, 2¼ flg and 3 locks.

We were booked in on the lift for one of the early slots so this gave us time to back up to the services and fill up with water and use the shower facilities, before moving up onto the lift moorings. We had a bit of time to wander round the lift site before we were told we could go down

Anderton Lift
Anderton Insect Village

I always feel slightly uncomfortable on the lift – I think is that you’re roped up to the side of the caisson and when it starts to move you instinctively feel you need to undo the ropes or you’ll get hung up. Silly I know, but there you go. It’s also slightly dis-concerting when you pass the boat in the other caisson going the other way.

We’d looked at the weather forecast and decided that we’d head down stream first so when we left the lift we opened up the throttle a bit, headed out and took a right turn onto the Weaver.

Anderton Lift
Leaving the lift
Anderton Lift
View from the River Weaver

All the bridges on the Weaver are all either high level bridges or they swing to let boats through. The first bridge down stream from the lift is Winnington Bridge which is bit of an odd bridge in that it has a headroom that isn’t constant – so it’s vitally important to work out which end of the bridge you are heading for and make sure there isn’t another boat coming the other way.

Winnington Bridge
The swing bridges on the Weaver don’t need to be swung for narrow boats . Here you have to be careful which side of the bridge to aim for

One noticeable thing about the Weaver Navigation is that that the locks are duplicated – but rather than have two locks of one size they are actually different sizes with a “Large” lock and a “Small Lock”. This was obviously done to save water when smaller craft were using the river but the small locks are now out of use ( to reduce maintenance costs) which means that if anything goes wrong with a lock then the navigation is basically closed.

Saltersford Locks
“Small” lock to the right – now unused so we go through the big lock
Saltersford Locks
The locks used to use Railway signals to indicate which lock to use and its status

When cruising along the Trent and Mersey near Dutton Horse Bridge No 211 you can look down onto the Weaver and see a derelict boat near Dutton Locks No 4 . I remember seeing her quite soon after she was abandoned and over the years it’s been interesting (in an odd way) to see how she is slowly decaying. The “Chica” was used as a pleasure steamer on the river for a few years before structural defects meant she was beyond economic repair and she was abandoned and left to rot.

The “Chica” – shortly after she was abandoned.
The wreck of the Chica
The “Chica” – sitting on the bottom and decaying.
Dutton Locks
Lock keepers hut
Saltersford Locks
Plenty of room for us

Just below Dutton Locks is the extremely impressive Dutton Viaduct which strides across the valley. At 60 feet high and 500 feet long it was a major achievement in engineering when it was built in 1836 and is now a Grade II* Listed structure.

Dutton viaduct
This 20 arch viaduct was built less than a decade after Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ won the Rainhill trials

Below Dutton the navigation makes its way slowly towards Runcorn and the Manchester Ship Canal. There are a couple of rather pleasant overnight mooring spots and some pretty views but there isn’t really a lot to see. The river remains remarkably un-industrial until you are past Runcorn Rowing Club where you can see the base of a now removed swing bridge.

Barrels
No, we have no idea why there are lots of barrels lying on the river bank.

The river is quite straight as you pass the ICI Weston Works and Weston Marsh Side Lock comes into view. This lock leads down onto the Manchester Ship canal and it was here that we turned round and headed back up stream

Weston Marsh Lock
Lock down in to the Manchester Ship Canal – beyond the ship canal is the Mersey Estuary

It started to rain again and so we we were quite happy to moor up for the night and walk over to The Leigh Arms

Acton Bridge
Traction Engine in the pub carpark