pastures waters’ really, but I couldn’t get strikethrough working on the title! It’s from Milton’s ‘Lycidas’, if you were wondering – I’ve just looked it up!
Monday 27th April
Exciting day! we’ve never cruised further north than the Anderton winding hole. Before we left there was time to walk Meg in the woods once more – the bluebells will be wonderful when they are fully out.
Though the sun was warm, the air was cold and the breeze freezing. Alerted in advance to the dearth of facilities on the Bridgewater, we emptied the cassette at Anderton and got rid of the rubbish, including the bag from Bramble Cuttings. As there was a queue for the water, there was plenty of time to grab a shower too.
We just missed the midday timed entry at Saltersford Tunnel so we had lunch as we waited for the next slot. It’s timed entry because the tunnel is crooked, and you can’t always see whether anyone is coming. It’s very disconcerting as you travel through. This is where we waited, in the sunshine, with a drainage pipe under the towpath merrily trickling onto the side of the boat. Quite noisy, but there was only one bollard and we couldn’t be bothered to move and put pins in..
We passed Acton Bridge, with good views of the swing bridge over the river Weaver.
A buzzard and this dancing heron welcomed us onto new waters. Dave took these pictures – rather clearer than mine!
There are good views of the Dutton railway viaduct over the Weaver valley from Dutton Hollow, the site of the 2012 breach in the T&M. The repaired section of towpath has mooring rings so we might stop here on our way back south later this year.
We knew there would be a short wait after the stop lock before we could transit Preston Brook Tunnel, and as Dave approached the waiting area a boat came round the bend, quite fast, and the crew shouted at Dave to ‘wait for his slot’. That was a bit mean, as we hadn’t actually reached the mooring round the bend they took so cavalierly. Anyway, there wasn’t long to wait.
Chuffed approaches the waiting area for the tunnel … and one of the ventilation shafts
The Bridgewater canal starts at the northern portal of the tunnel. Soon you pass the Runcorn Arm to the west – we’re not going that way this time. You can see the Norton Water Tower here and from further along the Bridgewater. It was completed in 1892, is grade 2 listed and was built to act as a balancing reservoir on the pipeline from the Victorian reservoir of Lake Vyrnwy in Wales to the growing populations of Liverpool and Runcorn. It was constructed largely from the red sandstone which is seen a lot in this area, both as building stone and as outcrops (as we will see when we walk round Lymm tomorrow).
The Bridgewater is wide and although it passes under the M56, and is not far from the Rocksavage gas-fired power station where the Weaver meets the Mersey, the feeling is largely rural. We moored just before Moore in a patch of sunshine. When I took Meg out at bedtime I was surprised to see all the lights from the motorway, as we couldn’t hear it at all.
9 miles, 1 lock, 3 tunnels.