Everyone Needs a little Salt in their Diet

From Cow Lane Bridge No 123E to Nantwich Aqueduct, a distance of 18 miles, 7 flg and 11 locks.

None of us were feeling particularly rested when we got up on Sunday morning. The highlight of the rather disturbed night had been a woman saying, rather loudly, “Where do they Pee, Ooh, Ohh, on a canalboat”. Seemed rather odd that someone who had no problem of getting rather drunk finds it necessary to spell out the word poo.. but then again it takes all sorts I guess.

[ Google Route Map embedded here ]

We started the long slow crawl up the locks away from Chester. The locks might have been good for barges and paired up narrow boats but with no gate paddles and really badly positioned ground paddle outlets they aren’t fun at all.

As we worked through Tarvin Lock No 38 a boat moored above the lock cast off in front of us (how original!). As the locks are broad Neil headed off up the canal to make sure the people knew we were behind them.

They were waiting for us at Greenfield Lock No 37. One of the gates doesn’t open all the way and of course they weren’t pulled in behind that one so Nick had to try to get a narrowboat through a gap that wasn’t really wide enough.

So we got the gates closed and Neil was standing by the ground paddle. The woman off the other boat turned to me “Do you think one paddle 1/3 of the way?” I said that with 2 boats I’d suggest both paddles 1/3 to 1/2 way, and that I was going on to the next lock to get it ready.

Neil wound his paddle up half way and the woman looked at him and said something about how opening his paddle only was only “helping” our boat.

They didn’t come through the next lock with us – odd people. I guess its something to do with people with boats from Longport (see the Tyrley Locks Post for more details).

We worked the next lock alone but then another boat (single handed) asked us how far we were going and could he share locks with us – which is fine by us as it makes things so much easier on the locks.

Being Sunday there were lots of fishermen out – trying to outwit the fish, so we had to crawl past them, and then past all those damned linear moorings… still at least the weather was OK and we could stand there and watch the world go by.

Working through Beeston Iron lock was fun as we went through together (naughty, naughty Mintball!) and sharing locks was so much easier. However as Anglo-Welsh was still open we pulled in for a pump-out and a new bottle of gas, but luckily a boat there wanted to go up the locks so the single handed boat was happy. As the locks are a staircase it takes a while to prepare and work through and we had just got the lock ready for us to go through by the time the pump-out was done, so we didn’t lose too much time.

The traffic on the A51 was still as slow as it had been on Friday.. don’t you just love road works! At Barbridge Junction  a Challenger Boat came out of the Middlewich Branch with no sounding of their horn, no person on the front deck keeping lookout, no they just steamed of the junction and then proceeded to move at a snails pace past all the boats. They would speed up slightly in open water but at the first sign of a bridge it was power down to tickover, wobble the tiller back and forth and just about make it through the bridge hole.

We were hoping they would turn up the Llangollen but no such luck and we were stuck behind them until they turned off into Nantwich Basin .

We stopped for the night on the Visitor moorings just before the aqueduct and headed into town for a couple of beers and a curry

Antiqui Colant Antiquum Dierum

From Beeston Stone Lock No 33 to Cow Lane Bridge No 123E, a distance of 11 miles, 2¼ flg and 7 locks.

Beeston Iron lock was totally empty when we got to it the next morning, so we bounced the bottom gates to dislodge anything that might have been stuck between them, and then filled the lock and worked through with no real problems. The bottom gates have a rather large gap when closed and it looks like its been caused by boats clipping the edge of the gate as they go in and out of the lock as the biggest gap is right at the top rubbing strake level – hopefully BW will get it fixed soon as its not going to be long before someone leaving the top gate open will drain the pound.

[ Google Route Map embedded here ]

Some people think linear moorings are “nice” and “interesting” to pass. I suggest they are made to travel the canal between Nixon’s Bridge No 114 and Faulkner’s Bridge No 116 , preferably several times and then say how wonderful it is.

The canal was pretty quiet all the way to Christleton Lock No 36 where we had to wait for a boat ahead of us to go down and a very slow boat to come up – the boat coming up came up on half a paddle.

The locks down into Chester aren’t the fastest and it was early afternoon by the time we had made it to Cow Lane Bridge No 123E , turned in the winding hole and taken up the last 52 foot of the rather short length of visit moorings.

After a quick freshen up we headed out into the City to do a bit of sightseeing. We started walking clockwise round the city walls, taking a slight detour to have a closer look at the amphitheatre and then a walk through the “Roman Garden”, and its collection of fragments of salvaged stone work, to the river. We got back onto the wall and walked round past Northgate Staircase Locks Nos 41 to 43 , over St Martin’s Way (A wonderful example of what Labour were capable of doing in the 1970s), and to Northgate where we came down off the walls and headed into town for a beer or two.

If you are in Chester, and you like your beer, then you must visit the “Old Boot Inn” in EastGate which is a Sam Smiths pub and serves Old Brewery Bitter for a staggering £1.34 a pint. When I bought the 3 drinks and it was £4.02 I thought the barman had made a mistake… but he hadn’t.

So we were forced, from a point of fairness, to do a whole cycle of rounds.

We then wandered off, completed our walk and went back to the boat.

We decided to try the Mill Hotel and Spa as its supposedly a great real ale pub but the whole of Chester seemed to be in there, so we wandered round town and found a Marstons pub to have a lightish evening meal in before heading to the “Bear & Billet” on Lower Bridge St. An Okells “Beers of the World” pub it had a good range of Okells ales, other hand pulled real ales and draught European beers .. How many places in the UK do you know that sell Dark Budweiser Budvar on draught?

We left just after 11 and headed back to the boat. Not sure why we bothered as the drunken sots of Chester stumbled noisily past the boat until the early hours of the morning.

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