Victor is pleased to get on a user-friendly canal

Published: Tuesday, 09 July 2019

YES indeed, maintenance aside, I am pleased indeed to be leaving the Shroppie for the Trent & Mersey.

7JanPushingBeamMany are aware of the difference between the two waterways from a boaters point of view—the Shroppie with little to assist the boater, yet the Trent & Mersey with bridges at all the locks, steps down/up either side to get on or off, foot holds to help close the gates, (pictured) long 'throats' to control boats whilst closing gates and much wider bridges.

Cutting down the queues

Not forgetting of course the twin locks on Heartbreak Hill to cut down on the queues, but alas more and more, as they want for maintenance, are getting discarded.

7FoliageTwinLockThe one pictured beyond the fence shows a discarded one of the twin locks, and with mature trees well established, I can't see this ever seeing the light of day again under the present regime.

The 'Hill' is a bit of a terror for some, but compared to the later constructed Shroppie it is certainty more boater friendly and much easier to work.


Even some of the locks on the 'Hill' have been painted, so here's a couple pictured below, showing that I don't always show just the worst!

7AllPaintedVictor knows best!

Alas, the decision—and one to which I did not agree—was to come up the 'Hill', the reason put forward that with the leaking locks they would all be empty, but I pointed out that nowadays virtually all locks leak at both top and bottom gates, and the 'weight of the water in the above pound would overcome that in a lock, so they would be full.

And, as you are all aware, Victor knows best, and so it proved. So what with full locks, then being the fourth in a queue behind a couple who had just bought their first boat and with no experience, we had the worst journey ever up what was for us really the 'dreaded' Heartbreak Hill.

Not easier to handle

The couple had purchased a small boat that they thought would have been easier to handle, but the locks were too fierce with the boat being knocked about, so they finished tying it up and as to the paddles—you know the rest! One boat in the queue gave it up as a bad job and pulled in and moored.

7WaterTapWe persevered until Church Lawton, and with the remaining boat in the queue, called it a day.  Anyway there is a pleasant wood for the dog, so we used that as the excuse.

Less water

No, no, not another empty pound, but less of the stuff out of taps, for there is little doubt that as reported  a while ago, water points are becoming less and less frequent.

We were getting rather short approaching the Middlewich Branch, but realised that there was a water point at the junction having used it in the past, so our log told us.

But no, we searched where it was previously to no avail and had a good look around, but no water, so it was to the next junction with the Trent & Mersey where there is a tap just by the bridge. Oh dear! This was covered.  As it was not by the official CaRT covering we tried it, but alas, no water, and we were by this time getting worried. The yellow tape on the ground was the give-away.

7FenceMooringSo we had to hope the next water point at Wheelock was working, and to our relief it was. Mind you, a bollard or two would have been handy.

A right mess

Before this we had encountered the Albion Lock, that was a right mess. First of all no moorings as it was all fenced off, the bank having collapsed, though only a very small section. The walls had bowed in and we were jammed in the lock. Then only one top paddle working and to cap it all off it needed two people to open the top gate.

Yet, would you believe, a brand new housing estate opposite is named after the lock, so one would think that CaRT would make an effort to get it working, or at least cover the cracks with a bit of paint, which is its usual compromise.

7SUCSIts advantage

In the event you though I had a 'down' on the Shroppie, there was one thing at least in its favour—the visitor moorings provided by the Shropshire union Canal Society of which there are many, some together with picnic areas.

During our cruise we moored overnight at three of them, all on rings, that are so handy as many of you boaters are aware.

Victor Swift