Tuesday, 17 May 2011

We reach the Middlewich Arm.

Defying wind and rain we set off yesterday forenoon, heading south for the Middlewich Arm,

a last farewell to Beeston Castle and to the Shady Oak. We had a meal with friends there on Sunday and it was, frankly, well below below the standard we have come to expect, pity.
Shortly after setting off we negotiated Beeston iron lock

unusual in being built of large cast iron plates. Originally there was a double staircase lock here but, owing to the fact it had been built on running sand, in 1787 the lower chamber collapsed. Eventually the canal was rerouted, the staircase done away with and the two current locks built. The lower one built of iron to prevent further collapse. It seems to have worked as it is still there although B.W.'s signage suggests there may be some minor problems.

It seems that the sides are bulging slightly but I must admit to having, in the past, been through with another boat and encountered no problems but I am now older and more nervous and wouldn't try it again. You are quite right, I have no sense of adventure.
The canal from the outskirts of Chester to Bunbury is one of the most attractive stretches on the system,

the approach to Tilstone lock is typical, the scenery alternating between wooded hills and open farmland. The locks on this stretch are much better than those from Christleton down to the city, coming up those is a nightmare, each one seems to shoot the water in from different directions, intent on hurling you around the chamber, we have yet to work out in which order the paddles should be opened.
We stopped at Calveley to top up with water and get rid of the rubbish, as usual at this time of year

the supports of the canopy are being put to practical use by the visiting swallows who zoom in and out regardless of human presence.

Now tied up just above Cholmondeston lock on the Middlewich arm and we have the place to ourselves, lovely. We even have our own duck who has taken up residence next to the side hatch, he seems to be going into eclipse plumage although it's a bit early, Jill thinks that it is possible the missus and kids have worn him out which is why he looks so shabby.
Probably moving on tomorrow.

Watch this space..........

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