On The Shropshire Union Canal (Part #2)

Better late than never, here’s the report of the rest of the canal trip. Select photos are now available on line at my gallery.

The morning of day two we awoke to a frozen canal. This branch of the Shropshire Union canal had little traffic as it was the route between the main part of the Shropshire Union and the Trent and Mersey canal. You only use it if you want to get from one to the other. But this cold morning we were not the first people moving and another boat kindly broke the ice for us. Called “The Original Fudge Boat” it also had “Sanity?” written on the back. I have to admit agreed with the question given the weather.


Eventually, after a hearty breakfast, we go going ourselves. Steering a boat through the ice isn’t easy. The ice wants to push the boat in all sorts of directions. This is especially true for the large sheets which hadn’t broken up as they would bounce back off of the river back and knock the boat. The cold winter scenery though was truly beautiful.


We continued on the branch of the Shropshire Union before passing through the final lock and small bridge that put us on to the Trent and Mersey at Middlewich. At Middlewich we stopped in to The Kings Locks pub and grabbed a great pub lunch and a couple of pints which set us up nicely for the rest of the day. From Middlewich we headed north towards Northwich stopping when it got dark.

The following day we continued up around Northwich to see the Anderton Boat Lift. This is a fantastic Victorian contrivance which was built to raise and lower canal boats between the Trent and Mersey canal and the Weaver Navigation, some 50 feet below. It has two huge troughs each of which can carry two boats. These troughs, complete with water, transfer the boats between the two water ways. Originally it used hydrolic pistons to raise and lower the troughs but it was converted to cable hoists a while after construction. We didn’t get to see it working unfortunately but it looked fantastic.


As I was leaving the boat the following lunch time we finished heading north at this point and turned around. We grabbed another pub lunch on route hitting Middlewich at dusk and as there was no where to stop we were a little naughty and got through the final locks and back on to the Shropshire Union in the dark.

The following morning, as I had done the day before, I got the boat going while the others stayed in bed. It was very relaxing to potter along the canals with no one else around. Over the few days my boat handling skills came back and I was quite happy, for example, to go reclaim the boat and collect the others from the canal side at by the pub. Finally around 2pm we got back to the boat yard where I left the others. They continued on and I drove home some what chilled out.


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