Thursday 25 June 2015


They look such an idyllic family group, don't they? So much a part of the canal scene that the Canal and River Trust used them as part of its logo.

But the swan family at our mooring as we were packing up to leave this morning decided I was a threat of some sort and moved into attack mode. All I was doing was standing on the gunnel tidying the pram cover that I had just collapsed ready for cruising. But old Cob, he began a-hissing and a-pecking until I decided he was a threat to me. I can honestly say that, pacifist-minded as I am, I have never kicked a swan before. And I don't think he can ever have been kicked before, because he looked most offended as he straightened his neck again. Given the urban myth about how many of your bones a swan can break I had no concerns that I was likely to do him any damage. But I did then get the boat hook off the roof and wave it in his direction, and he seemed to find that alarming enough for him to move his little family across the canal.

Compared to that, the Preston Brook tunnel was relatively benign.

Getting into the tunnel is actually the hardest part, as it's hard to pick up the line it's taking until you are properly shrouded in gloom yourself. Thereafter you have a headlamp, kitchen lights and a torch to guide you as, like yesterday's tunnels, it follows a more sinuous track than seems strictly necessary.

After the tunnel it wasn't far to the junction, where we turned left to go down to Runcorn. What's in a name? Some people probably hear "corn" and think of a pastoral idyll. I hear "rhinoceros horn" and think of danger. The initial approach down this arm of the canal is pleasant enough, with a stretch dominated by what I take to be a water tower.

I found it quite hard to get a photo, because the combination of distance, auto-focus and the camera's anti-shake system seems to mean it seizes on the first glimpse of the tower it can make sense of, and holds it instead of letting you frame the picture properly. This wouldn't be so bad if the photographer wasn't also the steerer, by now heading for the opposite bank. I took five shots of the tower, and most of them were a disaster – though I didn't hit the bank.

As you get further into the town, the need for a safe haven becomes more apparent and, fortunately, this is just what the Bridgewater Motor Boat Club provides.

They are a very friendly bunch, though quite relieved I only wanted to stay one night as there is some sort of Commodore's affair starting tomorrow and boats will be arriving. But our reason for coming to Runcorn this time (last autumn it was part of our plan to visit most of the north-west fringes) is to pick up some sound insulation panels we've ordered. Hopefully they'll be delivered in the morning and we'll be on our way. More about that another time.


  1. It could be the weather. The swan family from a mile along the Bridgwater and Taunton canal (which I overlook) has come down today into the territory of the local swan family, and there has been aggressive posturing going on all day. We wonder whether it is actually a deliberate education of the cygnets (8 across the two families) in the etiquette of fights and territory protection.

    1. Well, well. Something along the lines of: "OK lads, you're getting to be big boys now. That's enough duck food. Time to show you how to treat these boaters as you should." !