Day 36 – Middlewich and Trent & Mersey

Once again I’ve chosen an overnight stop with no internet connection so I’ll upload this sometime tomorrow. Mind you I thought that last night too. I did have a connection for a large part of the day, but I was busy boating.

My Shropshire Union Guide speaks warmly of Venetian Marine just above Cholmondeston Lock, so I stopped to get a T&M Guide. They didn’t have one, only guides to various ‘ring’ routes. So onwards and downwards to Middlewich basin.

The Middlewich branch connects to the northern end of the Shroppie, constructed as the Chester Canal to widebeam dimensions. Around Barbridge Jnct there were quite a few wide beam cruisers moored and the branch feels wide too, right up to bridge 2 and the subsequent locks, which are narrow. Despite that much of the channel is wide compared with the southern Shropshire Union. The locks are deep too, 11’3″ at Cholmondeston.

The theme continues on the T&M, wide channels, narrow and deep locks, though now going up out of the Cheshire Plain. A boat was leaving the first lock as I arrived so the lock was set and gates open, always a bonus. For the next three locks I was following an idiot who left all the top gates open and on one occasion the paddles too.

T&M Locks are deep

They are not great locks for single-handed use. Possibly because of the great depth the bottom gates don’t have the usual planks on the gates to walk across, they have a bridge. This prevents me bow hauling the boat into the lock because I can’t pass the rope under the bridge, I have to climb aboard and motor in, then climb the green slimy ladder to get out. Lock 98 had an extra hazard, a dog shit bag tied to one of the rungs of the ladder. I guess the dogshit fairy who removes the little parcels left dangling from trees and hedges doesn’t operate underwater.

After five single locks on the T&M (and 3 on the Middlewich branch) I stopped at Wheelock just below the Wheelock flight of eight. Need to be fresh to tackle those.

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