It’s the end of this week that we are going back to Kent to get the house sorted and rented out so will be away from the boat until that's done. Karen is going back to work at the end of November and as she will be working in the Crewe area we can carry on living on the boat which is why we have come back up to the North West. We decided last night to head for Runcorn on the Bridgewater canal before leaving the boat in a boat yard at the end of the week. Before we set off we walked back to see how the canal was being closed whilst the railway bridge is repaired for next couple of months. There was no sign of the canal being closed as yet but there were men working on the track.
It was another foggy day and it looked quite eerie where we had been moored overnight.
Just south of Northwich we passed a marina development. To be honest it looked like no progress had been made since we passed it six months ago. The only activity going on was water being pumped into the basin to fill it.
Just before we got to the great complex of Tata chemical factories at Northwich we passed a fishing match with about 40 anglers. Most were pleasant and acknowledged us but as usual there were a few who ignored us or muttered under their breath about boats shouldn’t be allowed on canals etc.
I had planned to visit the salt works museum at Marston as it was closed for refurbishment when we tried to visit earlier in the year. As luck would have it the museum is closed on Mondays – oh well, there’ll be other opportunities especially whilst we’re living n the boat up here.
The boat lift at Anderton is part of the winter stoppages program and was closing from this morning until Christmas for maintenance. When we went past men were erecting a boom across the entrance ready to dam it and drain the water form the lift entrance area. We really enjoyed using the lift when we went onto the River Weaver in May and plan to do it again as we didn’t have time to explore the full length of the river. You can see the holding areas for each lift caisson on the right hand picture.
Soon after Anderton we went through one of the blindest bridges we have come across for a while.
This is entering the 572 yard long Barnton tunnel which is obviously only has room for one way traffic so you have to check that there are no lights of approaching boats before entering. This tunnel is unusual in that it has kinks in it so you cannot see the exit portal when you first go in.
A bit further on is Saltersford tunnel and as this is so bendy (as opposed to a kink or two) boats are only allowed in during certain time windows. We were heading North which meant we were allowed in any time from the hour until 20 past the hour. Fortunately we only had to wait for five minutes – it was quite pleasant as we had this large pool to wait in. Southbound boats can enter the tunnel at half past the hour until ten to.
It's not that clear here but the tunnel veers off sharply to the left from the entrance; these sort of manoeuvres will be a lot simpler when we get our shorter boat next year.
Of course, the smoke from our stove chimney didn’t help visibility but we managed to spot all the bends in time and not hit the sides.
We had a look at the map of where we have been over the last year to see the extent of our travels. Slough in Berkshire was the furthest South; Llangollen (Denbighshire) was the furthest West and Slaithwaite (West Yorkshire) the furthest North. When we get to Runcorn later this week that will be the furthest West in England. Abbots Langley (which is not that far from Slough in the scheme of things was the furthest East.
We have travelled 1,369 miles through 1,253 locks in that time and if you take out our trips back to our home in Kent or on holiday that is an average of just over four miles and four locks a day. To think that poor Karen has operated the vast majority of those locks and probably walked well over half the number of miles puts my easy life into perspective for me.