Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Vale Royal Moorings to Little Leigh

We stayed at the moorings for a couple of days, making use of the great pathway and cycled to Winsford which is as far as you can get with a narrow boat. There is a pub there, The Red Lion, in our River Weaver guide it says good moorings there, but in reality there are two spaces for full size narrowboats, when we went there was one and two very small cruisers, there didn't seem to be anywhere to moor on route either so it could be a five mile journey there and back to Vale Royal.

We went down and had a look at the flash where a sailing boat was out but unfortunately for them there was very little wind. And then we went up into the town which has a bit of an indoor shopping centre and market but no real high street (well we didn't find one).

Big float island passing us
On Thursday our neighbour in front left, they reversed up a bit and out into the main stream, I suddenly noticed him at the front of his boat dropping the anchor, we wondered if he was just doing a test so asked if he was OK and did he want to throw a rope he was only 15ft or so from the bank, his very embarrassed reply was he was OK but had managed to get the stern rope caught round the prop, his boat swung round on the anchor towards us so I held it steady against us whilst he went down the weed hatch to remove it, after a few minutes he reappeared with an undamaged rope in hand and was soon on his way.

On Friday we headed off as well giving the guys at Vale Royal Lock a call as we left, once again the lock was all ready to enter and all the hard work done for us, same again at Hunt's Lock and we were soon in Northwich where we stopped again for a quick visit to the shops. We had intended continuing and going back up the lift today but it started to pour with rain and the journey wouldn't have been a pleasant one so we decided to stay put for the evening. We unexpectedly met a couple of friends and it was lovely to catch up again briefly.

Saturday we continued our journey and we moored up on the holding moorings for the lift, we made for the booking office in the visitor centre in the hope that we could get the 12:50 lift up. We went through to the administration office where there were two receptionist sat behind their glass windows, they were chatting together when we got there, not acknowledging us at all, then after a few minutes one of them started tapping on her phone, looked like sending a text to me, then finally after a a good while they actually acknowledged us and slid the glass screen open. One just sat looking whilst the other very unhelpfully booked us on the 14:15, so we had time to look around the visitor centre before getting back to LJ. The attitude of these women behind the desk was so different to the helpful cheery lady we booked our passage down with, they really both could so with going on a customer care course or finding a job where they don't have to interact with people.

Railway bridge
10 minute prior to the lift time one of the guys came round asked us how many onboard and then we could enter the caisson,  he went back off to his little hut to wait, after a while we were on our way up and soon met by chatty and helpful Dave at the top. We had to wait a while before the gates of the caisson could be opened as a boat had entered the basin and the gates can't be opened whilst it was there, three CRT guys approached him and he was soon reversing out back onto the canal, we were finally released from the caisson and were on our way heading up the Trent and Mersey northwards.

Entering the caisson from the river
View to the side  
Nearly at the top
We then had two tunnels, Barnton and Saltersford, they are both crooked and one way, Barton you can just about see through so can just go if it is clear but Saltersford is a timed one so we waited our turn and followed another narrowboat with the crew singing its way their way through.

We moored up just before bridge 208 with the nearest village being Little Leigh.

Moored up for a couple of days

8 miles and 2 locks
Total 268.75 miles and 162 locks

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