Bramble Cutting (an emotional day of lasts)

Tuesday night's mooring

I had thought I wouldn’t be writing many blog entries for the last couple of weeks we have left living on the old boat before moving onto the new one, but somehow I seem to be writing one nearly every day.  Although we are both extremely excited about moving to our new home I find it quite sad leaving the current boat.  Karen doesn’t feel it in quite the same way, probably as she is working and therefore not at home practically all day as I am.  

Karen is very pragmatic and looks at the move in a positive way.  We have lived on Chalkhill Blue long enough to know exactly how we want the new one to be.  It’s not just the layout it’s practical things too like engine size, having central heating and 12v and 240v sockets where we want them etc.

Buddy and I had a walk on Tuesday morning around the Wheelock fields and then set off for Middlewich.As we walked along the towpath we came across this metal monstrosity.  It seems to have been built to deter walkers, cyclists, dog owners and boaters.  That is, until you look to the left and everyone just walks or rides round it.

Serving no purpose that I can see

The four locks we had to descend before Middlewich were well spaced apart but none were in our favour.  We were following a boat and as none were coming in the opposite direction I had to fill each chamber before going into the locks.

First lock of the day – Crows Nest lock

The last lock before Middlewich – appropriately named I think

We moored up for lunch after going through Rumps lock - well, Buddy went exploring

Kings lock signifies the entrance to Middlewich from the south

We seem to have spent quite a bit of time in Middlewich over the years on the boat .  I suppose it’s not surprising as it is on the Trent & Mersey canal which links to so many other canals in the north. 

At Middlewich there is a link to the Shropshire Union called the Middlewich branch which we have
used a few times and has one of our favourite pubs along it.  Well, it’s a walk of a mile or so through the woods at Church Minshall.

Leaving Kings lock with the Middlewich branch of the Shropshire Union going off to the left

Strictly speaking the first 50 yards or so of the Middlewich branch is actually the Wardle canal and is the shortest canal in the UK.

When going down locks I have to find out which side Buddy will have to come down to get back on the boat.  Most of the locks in this area only have steps one side so he needs to know which side to wait.

A rare lock – steps on either side at the bottom so Buddy can get back on the boat from either side

Our next stop was to empty the black water tank.  Hopefully this will be the last time we have to do this on this boat and, to be honest, wasn't an emotional last.

I had the pump out here but for reasons of taste didn’t’ photograph it happening

We then descending three locks in quick succession and they were really busy with hire boats learning the ropes.  There are two hire boat bases here and they have to cut their teeth on the locks as soon as they set off.

The bottom lock of the Middlewich 3 – as you can see I was having to wait whilst it filled before I could go in

The bottom lock was another ‘last’.  It was the last narrow lock we would take Chalkhill Blue through. The next thing we had to do was fill up with water – yes, another last.

Taking on our last tank of water – such a shame it was next to a dilapidated wharf building.  Hopefully one day this area will be rejuvenated.

We decided to go right through Middlewich and moor at one of our top ten favourite locations out in the country the other side.  Before we left we had to negotiate Middlewich Big lock.  It is named this because it is a double width lock.  Barges (twice the width of a narrowboat) used to come up the River Weaver by the Anderton boat lift, onto the Trent and Mersey and come down to Middlewich Wharf (where we took on water).

Another ‘last’ – our last double width lock and also our last ever lock on Chalkhill Blue

I hope I haven’t scuppered things by mentioning all these 'lasts' but is does feel like Chalkhill Blue 2 is nearly ready and can't be delayed any longer.

As we left Middlewich we crossed the River Dane on an aqueduct.  The aqueduct had to be replaced many years ago and the replacement was only 8’ wide so in fact no large beam boats or barges can reach Middlewich Big lock any more.

Crossing the ‘narrowed’ Croxton aqueduct.

We have always enjoyed the stretch through Croxton and beyond as it is probably the furthest you can get from a road or railway on the canal system.

Vermin (Canada Geese) on Croxton Flash

The picture at the top of the blog entry is us moored for Tuesday night at Bramble Cutting.  We may take it easy and stay here tomorrow and find a good walk.

Our view from the back deck whist reading the paper in the evening sun (mind you Buddy was willing me to go inside as it was past 5 o’clock – his bedtime)

Later on it was still enough to get my first ‘upside down’ picture for what seems like ages

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