Day 35

There was indeed a pub at Willeymoor so I had a beer, crisps and a chat with the landlady. Not a great night, up twice with cramp and up for good before 7.00. On my way before 8.00. Locks on this stretch are spaced out, Willeymoor, Quoisley, Marbury. Then past the repaired breach at Wrenbury (see photo). Bridge 20 at Wrenbury Mill is yet another lift bridge, but this one is electrically operated. Once again the landing stage is on the wrong side. Then I moored by the bridge and walked to the village shop for provisions.

Wrenbury Breach Repaired

There was a lot of barking at Wrenbury which I assumed came from a nearby property. Then a narrowboat passed me as I unpacked the shopping. On the back deck a near-hysterical dog (spaniel, I think) was barking at other dogs, at people on the towpath, at passing boats, stationary boats and nothing at all. I followed it to Baddiley locks, trying to stay back out of earshot.

There were two other narrow boats waiting at Baddiley and all three boats were single-handed and the owners known to each other. They had a system for dealing with locks:

First boater to arrive opens the lock.
Second boater helps him through.
First boater moors past lock and returns to help boats 2 and 3
Boat 2 goes straight on, becomes boat 1 at next lock.
Boat 3 goes on, becomes 2 at next lock
Boater 1 closes lock gates follows the others. Now boat 3.

Of course it got complicated with me following…

After Baddiley I stopped for lunch (pork pie from Wrenbury) then on to Swanley locks and finally around 3pm to Hurleston. On the WW map there’s a sanitary station at Hurleston. I got the cassette out, got the trolley from the topbox, dragged it to the sluice and… it’s closed.

Once again there were a few CRT volunteers doing all the work and I stayed on the boat. One of the volunteers told me the sluice had been closed two years because the septic tank is cracked and excavating it and installing a new one is too expensive for CRT.

So far the return has just been back the way I came along the Llangollen Canal. Previously though I approached Hurleston from the southern Shropshire Union. I’m going back via the Trent & Mersey. It’s about 20 miles longer than the route through Birmingham, but has about 30 fewer locks. It takes about a long to pass a lock as it does to travel a mile so the extra miles can be ignored. And anyway, 20 more miles is 6-7 hours extra sitting down. 30 locks is a lot of work!

So northwards on the Shroppie for a mile or so then right onto the Middlewich Branch. Near Barbridge Junction is Barbridge Marina which I got to just before closing time (5.00) and paid £2 to empty the loo. Onwards for another half hour or so, stopping before Cholmondeston.

Four locks to Middlewich tomorrow morning then turn right again, south down the T&M.

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