A bad start to the weekend, as I had an awful tummy bug which started on Thursday, when I had to come home from work. I still wasn't well enough to travel up to Cheshire on Friday, that coupled with Ripple being in Nantwich rather than Middlewich as we had expected, and traffic problems on the M6 on Saturday morning, led to a rather rushed weekend's cruising!
Added to this was a narrowboat which had floated loose from it's moorings across the canal on the outskirts of Nantwich. A couple of passers-by managed to drag the boat back towards the towpath but it had lost a mooring peg and they couldn't secure it. Patrick jumped out with another peg and a mallet - but that meant giving away one of our pegs to total strangers! Good job we had a spare one really.
We made it into Middlewich just as it was getting dark, I managed to take Ripple though Wardle Lock but light was fading fast and I didn't feel confident to take her through the next three - I could barely see the lock gates. So we moored up in Middlewich and went to the Narrowboat pub for some good food (me not on beer, sorry TCA, was still feeling queasy! Pat had a cold pint of London Pride though).
Next day we were up at 7.30 to start the cruise to the Anderton Lift and to meet up with Patrick's parents, also canal enthusiasts and very knowledgeable. The weather was great, I was able to relax a bit!
We got to the Lift a little after Patrick's parents; his mum had brought loads of provisions, and there was time for a look round the shop before our slot. Another boat came down with us too - obviously regulars. Going down the Anderton Lift was an amazing experience, really impressive engineering! Well worth the millions spent on restoring it. Note: new photos on Valerie's Gallery - freshly updated!
The River Weaver was a totally different boating experience as well - nice and wide, we were able to go much faster (over 6mph!) steering required more energy but not more effort really. The scenery was lovely at times - it would have been far nicer without the salt and chemical works every now and again but I suppose without them the river wouldn't have been navigable. Locks and swing bridges were very interesting too - on a much larger scale for a start!
We went as far as White's Bridge near Runcorn in one direction, then next day upstream back through Northwich to Winsford where we defied the British Waterways navigation limit to do a gentle turn in Winsford Bottom Flash lake.
Moored up outside the Red Lion (no real ale) and then sadly had to leave Ripple with Patrick's parents and get the taxi back to the car in Northwich.