To Anderton (7 April)

On Tuesday, we woke to bright sunshine, after the night’s rain, and decided to go ahead with our plan to travel downstream to the end of the navigation. Overnight the solitary shellduck was joined by a mate. They spent some time flying around the area together making calls that sounded like they were discussing nesting sites. The Devil’s Garden looked a picture in the morning sun so we walked over to the bank above the mooring to look at the clumps primroses.

Mooring at Devil's Garden

Primroses at the Devil's Garden

The journey down to Frodsham was delightful although from being dead calm the wind began to get up. After we went under the M56, and passed Runcorn Rowing Club, we got into the area of heavy chemical industry. It is certainly an enormous complex. At Marsh Weston lock, where you can branch off to the Manchester Ship Canal (MSC)if you have permission and is signed as Marsh lock, BW were installing some floating pontoons so it was not possible to stop even if we wanted. The next section of the navigation is the Weston Canal. We went on right to the end. Pearson quite rightly describes as the “end of the world”. As Maggie put it, we went from the Devil’s Garden to the end of the world, very apt really.

Chemical Works alongside the Weston Canal

The "End of the World" - Limit of Navigation Weston Canal

The limit of navigation is very desolate with the bottom lock gates of the Runcorn flight, which connected to the Bridgewater Canal, lying in ruins. This lock is the other end of the flight that appears in the 2009 IWA Calendar as photographed by Granny Buttons. Turning was not easy in the wind but we managed it.

Entrance to the disused locks on the Runcorn and Weston Canal

We moored up and walked through the industrial detritus to see the view across the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. It appears that this point is where the MSC store their spare lock gates. The mountains of North Wales were clearly visible but it was very windy, making the experience even more intense.

Manchester Ship Canal lock gates and views of the River Mersey.

The return journey upstream appeared a lot quicker, perhaps it was because we had the wind behind us, or perhaps it was because return journeys always appear to be quicker. We took on water, had a sandwich lunch at Dutton’s Lock, and met a pair of families with six little boys who were full of questions about boats and locks. They were particularly intrigued about the process of taking on water and why.

Iris Abbott on her way to the Easter boat gathering at Ellesmore Port

We arrived at the Anderton Lift at about 3.30PM and immediately went up the lift. The process of going up was equally fascinating. The high wind didn’t appear to cause us much problems. However, we had to turn south out of the junction and immediately wind (turn) to get ourselves “pointing in right direction”. The wind didn’t make this at all easy. However, we managed to reverse up to the 24 hour moorings.

Entering the Anderton Lift from the River Weaver

Tomorrow we plan to get to Preston Brook. We hope the wind drops.