Middlewich to Northwich

Middlewich to Northwich, Trent and Mersey Canal: 6 Miles, 0 Locks

The first cruising log entry of the year in which Zulu takes a battering from the weather and spends the first night away from home amidst the spotlights of Northwich chemical works.

I was actually hoping to get to Marston but with darkness upon us and the wind blowing a gale, not to mention the lashing rain I thought enough’s enough and stepped off the boat holding both bow and stern lines into mud which covered my shoes. It is an awful feeling when you know you are about to fall over but the thought of Zulu’s high bows being whipped over to the other side of the canal and through someone’s window was suffficient to hold on and stay upright while attemting to bring both ends of the boat to a standstill at the same time, preferably against the bank.

Knocking pins into mud is about as much an anticlimax as I can conjur up – one tap of the mallet and 8 inches of steel sinks out of sight.  No chance that’s going to hold for the night.  Perhaps prayers do work occasionally, as about 1 boats length further on was a single unoccupied ring set into concrete.  We were able to moor safely after all, without having to spend a midnight vigil out on deck worrying about where the bows went.

Apart from that nothing much to report – 6 miles of wind and rain with a tricky ending.

Ah.. yes there is… for the last 4 months BW have been improving the towpath through Middlewich – and not before time, as half of it was permanently under water.  A marvellous job has been done – the lowest sections have been raised well above the waterline and a hardcore path with wooden borders has replaced the worn and muddy towpath.  What more could we want?  We certainly do not want the top coat of compacted red sand which they have laid today.  Imagine a muddy dog and a couple of muddy boots.  Soaked to the skin and well caked with mud.  What could possibly be worse than all of the above coated in a layer of red sticky sand.  Well thats what we got today.

Middlewich towpath improvements - before (Oct-08)  and after (Mar-09)
Middlewich towpath improvements - before (26-Oct-08) and after (03-Mar-09)

I don’t know why every time I think about BW I come up with a negative, but once again they have ruined a wonderful improvement with a poorly thought out finish.  Literally.  And why?  Something to do with it being a national cycle path, according to word on the towpath but I fail to see the connection between this and dumping 200 tonnes of red sand for us to trail into our boats.  I will say no more and simply wait while the rain washes it away, when it will once again be a clean hardcore surface, cycle path or not.

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