Saturday 18th July; Big Wood/Devil’s Garden to Frodsham Cut via Marsh Lock
Another bright sunny morning, though the wind got up as we left the shelter of our mooring. It must have been hard work for the scullers out from Runcorn Rowing Club. Though there wasn’t much current to row against, when they turned they had to battle against the wind.
We passed Frodsham cut on our way towards Sutton Swing Bridge. It’s not navigable.
You can see the railway bridge behind the swing bridge. The photo shows how the cloud had come across making it feel even colder as the wind got stronger.
These bridges are rather more complex than the ones we operate by hand!
Once we had passed the M56 and the rowing club (most of the boats were already put away in the sheds by the time we got there) we could see the chemical works which stretches away towards Weston Point and the docks.
Towers and pipes extended as far as the eye could see. The windsocks on the towers were streaming out horizontally. We thought if there was a chemical leak or fire, they would need to know the wind direction to know which areas to evacuate. We reached Weston Marsh lock where the wind was now funnelling up the cut between the chemical works on one side and the high bramble-covered banks on the other. It was pretty unpleasant. We are not die-hard proponents of the ‘must get as far as we possibly can in all circumstances’ school of thought and decided we’d had enough of the battering wind, and turned – easily, helped by the wind. We moored up on the lock landing. You have to book ahead to use this lock, and there was clearly no-one about so we knew there would be time for us to have a look round.
We went for a nose around the lock. There are extensive views across the ship canal, which goes from left to right across the picture. The jetty on the left is where you would have to tie up if the lock was not ready for you! I suppose you could put ropes round a couple of the uprights. Left goes to Ellesmere Port
and right to Manchester. The Mersey is behind the low sandbanks in the top picture.
I wouldn’t fancy tying up to that jetty. You certainly couldn’t walk safely to land!
The lock itself was windswept but when we walked a little way up the vehicle access track the butterflies were flying in the warm shelter of the bramble bushes.
The windlasses on the paddle gear are fixed to the stand, the same as the ones on the locks elsewhere on the Navigation.
It was still deserted, so we stayed on the pontoon for lunch. The wind rocked us and the ropes creaked – almost like being at sea! Even on the canal there were waves.
But with the wind behind us, travelling was more comfortable and a lot warmer. We stopped briefly at Sutton swing bridge to dispose of rubbish and recycling. The mooring is labelled as 48 hours, but there’s only space for one narrowboat and no separate mooring for the water point. It’s also close to the road and very noisy.
We decided to moor for the night at Frodsham cut. The swans handily indicated the depth by standing in the water as they preened, and although the wind made it tricky we moored in adequate depth about 50 yards from the junction.
We went for a walk along the cut. The strong wind was doing its best to blow the boat away from the bank so before we went we dropped the anchor to be on the safe side. As we walked away from the navigation it got less windy and much warmer. Even if the water in the cut were not so shallow, you couldn’t get further than a low bridge a few hundred yards along. There is a lock at the end of the cut, where it rejoined the Weaver on the old route to the river Mersey. Weston Cut was opened in 1827 (decades before the Ship Canal was built) allowing traffic to avoid the river till Weston Point, and Frodsham Cut was eventually abandoned. The lock is derelict with stop planks above
We walked as far as the busy road bridge to Frodsham but didn’t go up to the town. There is a water-sports place by the bridge and enthusiasts were riding jet-skis and having Ringo Rides (we had to ask what they were) along the river as far as Sutton Weir below the navigation.
The wind lessened by late afternoon and it was a lovely sunny end to the day. Dave has finished varnishing the saloon window frames and is now starting on those in the dinette. It’s been very quiet boat-wise; just one going upstream this morning and nb Winthorpe going downstream as we moored this afternoon.
7 and a half miles.