Sunday, 9 August 2009

to Saltisford Locks on the River Weaver

Friday 7th August 2009
We were booked on the Anderton Lift for 1:45 pm, so we had set the alarms to get us up early. We set off in the sunshine and I decided that it was time to put some jeans through the wash.
A 'flash' on the Trent and Mersey canal.

The process was working well at first, but then the shower pump stopped working. Our mini twin-tub is situated in a corner next to the shower, we can fill the washer tub via the shower hose, and the whole thing drains into the shower tray, so it is quite important to the process that the shower pump works. I took over steering while Alan and David emptied buckets of water through the side hatch, and finally pulled out the works of the pump, which is right underneath all the shelving that the twin-tub sits on. A fuse had blown, which they quickly replaced and I was back on track. Perhaps we need to carry a spare shower pump, I know that a lot of people do.

We carried on northwards, occasionally passing huge factory complexes and arrived at the lift in plenty of time. We were told to move onto the holding lock at 1:15, but on getting there a bit earlier we found ourselves moved straight into the caisson with another boat. The operator checked our boat name, BW licence no, and the number of people on board, and we set off.

I'm fascinated by industrial archaeology, so I loved going down in the lift. I've put most of the photos towards the end of this post, with a brief comment by each. We spoke to the lift operators on our trip down who were happy to tell us a lot about the lift. The caissons counterbalance each other, so as one is lowered, the other rises. There is a facility to raise or lower them independently, but this takes a lot more energy.

Opposite the lift is a factory complex, and as you travel downstream towards the lock at Saltisford you see other, seemingly derelict factory buildings, although when you get closer you can see that at least parts of them are being used.

Factory on the River Weaver

Not much further down, the River Weaver opens up into fabulous countryside, which is so far removed from the industrial complexes only a couple of miles further north that it is hard to believe it is the same river. Several times kingfishers shot in front of the boat, a flash of red, followed by bright, iridescent blue.

As we headed for the locks I suddenly recognised a boat moored up. It belongs to a former colleague of mine and her husband who have lived on the boat for many years, but now they are retired they can disappear from their home mooring for months at a time. We honked the horn, and Barbara and Will appeared, somewhat surprised to meet us so far from home.

The lock at Saltisford is HUGE, surely the largest one we've been through.

After passing down through the lock, we only just managed to get back up again. The lock keeper had told us that we needed to be back for 3:45, forgetting that the lock closes at 3:15 on Friday. Fortunately we had told him that we were booked for an early passage on the Lift tomorrow, and he waited for us to return.

We then went north beyond the lift, to Northwich, to look at cameras as Alan's wide angle camera has packed up, and for me to go to a pharmacy about the bruise above my eye, which has spread upwards towards the eyebrow and down into part of the eyelid.
The pharmacist wanted me to see a doctor, and directed me to a couple of practices. Both of which had only one doctor on duty, no appointments free, and were closing very soon. One suggested that I try the 'minor injuries' department at the local hospital, which proved to be about 10 minutes walk up the hill.
At six o'clock on a Friday evening, the department was empty of everyone except staff, and I was seen immediately.
All the usual checks, blood pressure, pulse, history, etc were taken, and then, once again I found myself with people shining bright lights in my eyes, and peering into my eyeball. Seems to be a bit of a habit on our boating trips.
Having been given the OK, and told that I'd probably just ruptured a blood vessel we headed back to the boat, and back to the moorings just above Saltisford Lock.

End of the day.

After dinner Alan and I went for a walk up to look at the two tunnels on the Trent and Mersey Canal, which is only a very short distance from the river at this point. As we walked back dusk fell and we were glad that we had taken a torch as the footpaths were overhung with trees and it was very dark.

The River Weaver at dusk

Miles: 23.6 , Locks: 2 Total Miles: 203.6, Total Locks: 211

The entrances to the two caissons.

The teflon coated hydralic ram, and the underside of one of the 250 tonne caissons.

Alan looks out to the lower caisson - the end of the link to the Trent and Mersey can be seen. This stretch of canal has a guillotine gate at each end, and only one is ever open at any one time, to make sure that the Trent and Mersey canal doesn't empty into the River Weaver. The caissons are lowered to river level each night, to help protect the highly expensive rams from damage.

Entering the caisson.

The view of the River Weaver from the top of the Lift.

Leaving the lift.

The old counterbalance weights, now formed into a small maze.

A factory complex - it looks like some film set.

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