Branching out, waters new

We love taking Firecrest onto waters new, and we had no idea what a lovely stretch we were joining.

Starting on the Middlewood branch

The Middlewich branch is a 10 mile route that joins the Shropshire Union canal to the Trent and Mersey Canal. We started to look for an overnight mooring half way along but got caught by infamous “Shroppie shelf”. This is concrete ledge about a foot below the surface, which makes mooring difficult. The small tyres that we use as fenders aren’t quite big enough to stop us being bashed against the edge if (when) boats cruise past too fast. However, there’s some beautiful scenery and we managed to get in near to Stanley s bridge below Minshul lock.

A perfect cruise

One of the things that makes me happy on the canals is looking at the worn stone steps at the locks and imagining the history. How many feet have trudged up and down.

Well worn steps

But I doubt the working boats would have had to queue like we did at Minshul Lock. When we arrived, we were number 8 waiting to ascend,

Eric, making good use of the long wait to polish the brass port holes, (we have to maintain Braidbar’s reputation )

An hour and a half later, when our turn finally arrived, we had one side of very well polished brass port holes, and there were at least 10 more boats behind us. I don’t know how many more were beyond the bridge, I couldn’t see that far. Yet very few boats waiting to descend.

Now that’s what I call queuing for a lock

I was surprised at how few boaters joined in to help working each other through. Ok I don’t expect boat number 10 to leap into action, but you would think that by the time you are 2 or 3 from the from of the queue, it would be to your advantage to help. So I wasn’t very impressed having assisted several boats myself, by the time our turn came I had to set the lock and open both gates myself. My ladylike decorum was put to one side and I yelled down for some assistance, which to be fair did come running. Many hands make light work, and its far more fun chatting and encouraging each other. Less than a mile and a half on, the following lock was at above Venitian marina, which had the benefit of 2 volockies. But even so we had had enough by then and took advantage of the pleasant visitor moorings.

Venetian visitor moorings

And woke the following morning ready to move onto the Shroppie