Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Anderton Boat Lift and onto the Weaver

Wednesday 15th July; Moore (Bridgewater canal) to Anderton (River Weaver navigation)

We were away by 9, in a stiff breeze with intermittent sun, so jumpers on and even my woolly hat for a while.  It does make a difference when you are cruising into the wind.  The wind made beautiful silky sweeping patterns in the crop the other side of the canal as we left.

1 wind on the grass

We paused briefly in Moore to dispose of rubbish and recycling in the ultra-convenient bins by the towpath, and got a paper from the shop.  There is a boat with an excellent name in Moore -

2 good boat name at moore

and one, Lucky 7, which turned out to be highly inappropriate.  It was the last boat moored before the bridge.  We were waiting well back for a boat approaching from the other direction to come through the bridge. The steerer must have been – well, words fail me.  I just stood there, gasping, hands to my mouth in the the classic ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ pose as he powered through the bridgehole and crashed into Lucky 7 at some speed. There was masses of room – what was he thinking?  He cheerfully said as he passed, ‘I didn’t realise how close I was’.  Good grief!  why not slow down past moored boats?

4 driven into by hobo

That black mark above the exhaust outlet was exactly where he hit – unLucky 7, if you read this leave a comment and I will pass on the boat name.

After that excitement we had a pleasant run down to Preston Brook tunnel as the sun eventually came out and it warmed up.  We were bang on time for transit through the tunnel, which only has a 10-minute window per hour to start your passage.  The tunnel portal looked tiny after the Rochdale locks and wide Bridgewater canal we have got used to!  We got a chance to read the commemorative plaques at the portal this time.

5 preston brook north portal

Back on the Trent and Mersey, we waited for the boat in front to clear the stop lock before doing our first work since leaving the Rochdale canal – then windlasses away again as they won’t be needed for the rest of this trip!  I took a couple of photos of the ornate dry dock at the lock, as I missed it on our way up in the spring.

6 dry dock at stop lock  7 dry dock

We grabbed the last rings at Dutton, at the site of the breach the other year, for a lunch stop.  A share boat paused in front of us, the husband nipping back along the towpath to get a photo of the Dutton Railway aqueduct down across the Weaver, while his missus held the centre rope.

When we started after lunch we found ourselves behind two other boats – the share boat in front of us, and a boat which had left Dutton before us in front of them.  We weren't in a hurry as we were pretty sure we would all miss the timed entry at Saltersford tunnel.  When we got there, we wondered why the share boat wasn’t mooring – the first boat had gone ahead in spite of being outside the time slot, and they were waiting in case it had to reverse out again!  In the event their gamble had paid off, as no-one came through. 

As we approached Anderton, we spotted another good boat name – perhaps they couldn’t think of anything else?

8 another good name

Then we saw this pirate selling marmalade.  That’s a novelty!  Or was he guarding the takings?9 pirate marmalade

We pulled in on the holding moorings for the lift and I went in to see if there was a slot this afternoon – yes there was, the next was free, so Dave turned the boat in the winding hole (coming from the west, we had to pass the entrance to the lift to reach the holding moorings, so had to turn round) while I went down to the office to register our details.  Twenty minutes later we were entering the first section, where you stop while they close a gate behind you, so that if there is a failure of the system up ahead the canal doesn't disappear down into the Weaver.  The white buildings in the distance are part of the chemical works on the other side of the river.

10 approaching boat lift caisson

The gate had freshwater mussels living on it which we could see as it was descending. The bridge behind carries the towpath over the entrance to the lift.

11 mussels on the gate

Then we moved forward into the caisson, the bit which takes boats down onto the river.  Once more a gate was closed behind us.  The cheery CRT operator gave us plenty of information about the moorings on the Weaver while we waited for the lift to be ready to descend and he took our picture (why do I always seem to have my eyes closed?) 

14 ready to go

I returned the compliment, as he was very photogenic!

15 the crt guy

And down we went.  There were no boats in the caisson coming up, which was a shame, no-one to wave to.  But plenty to see.  The first picture is the view upstream from the top, then the subsequent ones … well you probably get the gist.

16 view before we start  17 down we go

18 and down  19 the works

The last pic was looking up.  As we neared the bottom, we looked down on the roof of the building on the bank behind us, and up at the other caisson (as you go down, the other goes up).

20 still above the roofs  21 the other caisson

Once more a look up above, and then ahead there’s the Weaver, with the chemical factory on the far bank.

22 up above us  23 theres the weaver

Up goes the gate, out we go, and look back first as the gate closes;

25 looking back as the gate closes 

and then at the classic view of the lift.  What an amazing structure!

 26 boat lift from weaver

As it was already gone 4, we decided to moor in the park just upstream, which we had seen as we descended.  Looking back at the lift, it reminded me of a book jacket illustration I had seen for H G Wells’ War of the Worlds.

28 like war of the worlds

After a cup of tea and another coat of varnish on the window frames we took Meg off round the park footpaths.We could have followed paths through lovely parkland all the way to Northwich, or as far as Marbury Country Park the other side of the Trent and Mersey.  Instead Meg chased her ball and we enjoyed the wild flowers – banks of willowherb, the highly scented meadowsweet and the blue field geranium.

34 banks of meadowsweet  33 meadowsweet and cranesbill

The mooring is beautiful if you look upstream.

35 mooring

And striking at night if you look the other way.  Bit noisy though.  During the night we realised we should have moved on round the bend.

36 chemical works at night

A fascinating day!  9 miles, 1 lock, 3 tunnels and one boat lift.

If you want technical details of the lift I suggest you look at Harnser’s blog. We spent this evening reading their account of their Weaver trip earlier this year.  Thanks Brian and Diana! Very useful!


  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the postcard; I'm getting more jealous, though from the description I'm not sure that I've missed very much on the River Weaver! You seem to be doing all the classic canal structures (Anderton Boat Lift, Standedge Tunnel, Pontcysylte ...). Have you done Bingley Five Rise?
    I had a trip on the Trent & Mersey in May 1979 (I know it was then cos I remember listening to the general election results while tied up outside the Cross Keys at Northwich). Were you on that trip or did I go with the 'other' group I knew who did canals? Anyway, we went as far as the top of the Anderton Lift, but the hire company said we couldn't go down it. From that trip I remember Nantwich as being a nice place to stop. Where next?

    1. Hi Ron,
      no, we haven't been on the Leeds and Liverpool since our first ever canal trip with you and 'our' gang! Though I remember you took us all to Bingley to see the locks on the way home. I think 1979 was the year we all went on the Canal du Midi. Happy days! As ever our plans are fluid with regards to destinations, all we know is we are coming further south before the winter.
      Debby and Dave xx

    2. Of course! Canal du Midi was 1979, but later in the year.

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