Victor finds it's decision time

Published: Wednesday, 01 September 2021

AFTER picking up our boat at Middlewich it being taken there by friends, we found it decision time.

So here we are at the top of King's Lock deciding whether to risk the Shroppie for our return cruise, on the Bank Holiday Week, or to the end of the Trent & Mersey and then back.

Hearing of the problems on the Shroppie caused by the worry to boaters and hire companies alike of the problem with the lock on the Llangollen, we plumbed for the Trent & Mersey, so off to its end. Prompted, of course, by Jan—known as She Who Must Be Obeyedwho wanted to once again see that vista of the Weaver and its locks as the canal passes along way above.

Another thought, that with all the stoppages with the Yorkshire canals, there would be little boat traffic, as there were just the two marinas at Anderton opposite each other and boats for the lift. Alas, wrong on both counts!

AndersenFor it was in early May 12 years ago that we last passed this way on our cruise of the Cheshire Ring and things had grownparticularly the hedges, and there was no longer the attractive vista of the Weaver, as Nicholson's would have us believe.

But back to the start, and a walk down the towpath  and we were changing our minds about the number of boats we might meet when we saw the entire stretch of towpath for Andersen Hire Boats completely empty.  All out with customers of course.

Away we go

But away we go down the King's Lock onto the four after the junction with the Middlewich Branch—and the country's shortest canal—but what a difference from when we last ventured some 12 years ago when under the care of British Waterways.

MidBemThere was a boat coming up that gave us hope, as we were not yet too fit, but it was not to be for as we dropped through locks that were all emptying—and you know why!

One lock had it cill 'bubbling' with leakage just about ready to join the list of failing cills, but a least the gates, so worn, were easy to swing.

But the beam of the one pictured, could perhaps do with a little tender loving care, but doubt if it will get it as it hasn't yet fallen off.

New marinas

And boats?  Though early away, during those first four hours of that first morning cruise we passed 21 moving boats! Accounted for perhaps by two new marinas having sprung-up along that fairly short section to Anderton since we were last that way.

OakwoodMarinaOak Tree Marina I reckon had taken over one of the flashes as it was wide open to the canal as can be seen, but was making up for any boat shortage by diversifying into Glampingluxurious tents I am told very well fitted out, with three seen on the horizon in the picture.  Mind you, not for me, those days are long gone I would prefer the lodges.

This company has even further diversified with the addition of a camping siteall adding to its income.


UnfinishedMarinaThere would have been three new marinas, all rather strangely within half a mile of each other had not Coronavirus, we were told, stopped yet another being finished.  Here's a picture of it in its discarded state, with equipment scattered around the site.

With the number of vacant berths in the present four marinas in that area, methinks it would be an idea to give it up as a bad job, as is well proved along other sections of this canal that fell for the British Waterways' campaign to encourage so much marina building with the promise of huge rewards by the 'supposed' demand.

That many are now only too aware never materialised.

ParkFarmMarina2JPGThe other new marina was Park Farm Marina, that is somewhat in its finishing state, for though it has water and electricity, other  facilities are provided on a fortnightly basis by the ex-working boat, Halsall, which brings coal, firewood, gas and diesel direct to the boats and provides a pump-out service.

It also accommodates wide beam boats, but how they get there is anyone's guess as only narrow locks available. With such narrow overgrown sections, wide beam boats loose on the waterway would be a disaster.


AndertonFallAnderton was packed full of moored boats on both sides of the waterway, stretching way past the boat lift that was obviously working on that August Bank Holiday with moored boats lined up and its trip boat ready to go down.

Further on we came across that site of the land slip that closed the waterway for a while when so much earth and scrub was washed down by the torrential rain at the time  its reminder in the shape of coloured balls showing you the way.

So then to where the side of the waterway opened up for the sight of the Weaver and its locks, that Jan was so looking forward to, but all she saw was an overgrown hedge with just a couple of very quick glimpses of water as we passed, very much to her chagrin.certainly no attractive vista.

So though we intended going to the end of the canal, the same hedges on each side of the waterway for mile after mile became so depressing we used an early winding hole and retreated back to Middlewich.

Victor Swift