Tuesday 16 September 2014

Weaver's shuttle

When we first came on to the Weaver two years ago, it felt very industrial and rather scary. Now, having explored most of it, we've come to appreciate that it's very different from what we had imagined. Today we set out in bright sunshine to travel as far as we could get to where it exits into the Manchester Ship Canal / River Mersey.

The first part was the wooded valley that we have really enjoyed, but after a while it takes on a very different character. The swing bridge carrying the A56 is being repaired, so they've "hired" another bridge (just visible beyond it) to take the traffic.

The fact that they can do this is a reminder that the days of the Weaver taking serious ships are in the past. It's now just leisure traffic, of a size that can get under the bridge. Then it's on to the much higher bridge carrying the M56, with the chemical works at Runcorn showing through the arch.

A spy-in-the-sky was looking for someone, but it wasn't us.

If it was these characters, they'd found an odd way to try and escape.

We found the chemical works interesting mostly for the pipes worked into roller coaster patterns – presumably somebody knows where they all go.

Along the way we encountered the Runcorn Rowing Club, whose rowers had been past us last night…

the odd secret hideaway…

and one or two odd glimpses through the bank flanking the Weaver Navigation, first of where the River Weaver itself was now running, and later of the Manchester Ship Canal coming up from Ellesmere Port.

The only way down to the Ship Canal is through Marsh Lock…

which doesn't look as though it's been opened in a very long time. The gates looked in pretty poor condition, though they seemed to be holding the water.

Instead of dropping down into this broad expanse of water and, presumably, mud flats…

we were carrying on for a mile round the corner to where the guide shows another lock onto the MSC at Weston Point. Before we could get that far, however, an obstacle appeared.

Sure enough, the bridge is too low for most boats to get under, and the old Runcorn and Weston canal which skirts it is disused so, for us, this was Weaver's End.

We had shuttled back to Devil's Garden by lunchtime, moored up in the sun again, and having a nice natter with Nigel and Julia on NB Dorothy Goodbody.


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