Friday 14 August
Having sat out the rain for most of the day at Moore, when it subsided a little at 4 o’clock we seized the chance and set off. Our aim was to reach Anderton in order to meet up with family on Saturday. After a brief (and expensive) stop at Midland Chandlers at Preston Brook to replace the boat hook which we had left behind while cat chasing back on the Leeds & Liverpool we just got to Preston Brook Tunnel in time to be second in the convoy on the half past four passage. The next tunnel, Saltersford is also timed so that we just had a ten minute wait and at the final one, Barnton Tunnel there were no boats approaching so it was straight through and twenty-five minutes later we were mooring up at Anderton.
Saturday 15 August
In the morning the hire boat on the Stanley Arms moorings moved off and we took advantage to slide across to their place. This was all part of our plan, we had arranged to meet our son and family as we were having two of our grandchildren to stay for the week. Jer and the gang arrived at lunchtime and we enjoyed a good pub meal with them. After lunch we wandered down to the Anderton Lift and booked our passages for tomorrow and explored the exhibits and grounds. If they have passages available on the day there is no cost for C&RT licence holders but to book for tomorrow cost us £5 each way.
Sunday 16 August
After playing sardines by sleeping eight in the boat overnight we were up to be on the lift moorings by 10:15 am ready for our 10:45 trip. We were in the caisson promptly and once in position and roped up we eventually started the slow descent. There was a short delay at the bottom whilst an issue with emptying the space between the gates was sorted out then it was out onto the calm waters of the River Weaver and soon we had a mystery steerer at the helm taking us down to Northwich.
We winded at Northwich and headed back to have lunch on the short-term moorings next to the lift before back upstream and winded again beyond Town Swing Bridge to bring us back to the lift so that the kids could visit the science show before our trip back up the lift to the canal. Once back on the 48 hr canal moorings we soon had to bid farewell to Jer and his friends and leave us to the to the company of just our two grandchildren.
Pretty soon we were off again to find a mooring near the Lion Salt Works for the night.
Monday 17 August
Our best laid plans to visit the Salt Works were scuppered in that they are closed every Monday (except Bank Holidays) so we made for Middlewich instead. Fate was not our side today because as we approached the town we heard that a boat had sunk in Wardle Lock on Sunday evening and obviously no traffic could pass until it had been recovered.
We passed through Middlewich Big Lock and were fortunate to find a mooring as another boat was just leaving and hailed us to take their place.
So it was time for lunch and a walk down town, when we returned we were kept up-to-date by a lady who seemed to know what was going on and eventually were able to move off at 3:30 pm and tackle the next three locks without really having to queue. When we left the top lock it was a different story however as there were about five boats waiting to turn at the junction into the Shroppie’s Middlewich branch into the ill-fated lock, and there were as many coming off the Shroppie not to mention those coming down King’s Lock. We were able to moor on Middlewich Narrowboats wharf for a bit and took the opportunity to purchase gas and ice creams and bit by bit we moved up the queue and eventually we were through at 6:45 pm and moored up soon afterwards in the town’s more prosperous suburbs.
Tuesday 18 August
We started our day with a walk to the chemist for some anti-histamines and we were on our way to Barbridge Junction with just three locks which Morley enjoyed helping with. It was still quite early when we reached the junction so decided to carry on.
At Bunbury Staircase Locks we paired up with ‘The Aggie’ and with the help of the lock keepers performed the Bunbury Shuffle whereby one boat comes up the flight whilst two go down swapping sides of the locks to enable it. It saves water and time! We continued with our locking partner until Beeston Iron Lock which must be done solo as it is distorted and too narrow to take two boats abreast. We shared Wharton Lock with a guy in a cruiser who was struggling to keep both top gates closed and was pleased for us to join him and help. We stopped for the night at the Shady Oak Pub which, despite negative comments from another boater, provided a friendly welcome, great meals and we were well impressed with chef who produced home made chicken nuggets in a non-dairy batter for granddaughter’s as she is allergic to cow’s milk.
Wednesday 19 August
Today was an easy day with no locks as by the time we reached Christleton at quarter to one, the rain forecast for 3 o’clock had started so we elected to moor there and visit Chester by bus. Once there we hit the charity shops to find some reading material for the grandkids and then took a tour of the town on the sightseeing bus in the rain, needless to say we didn’t sit in the open air section but were lucky to get the front to seats on the upper deck which were under cover.