Friday 26 June 2015


In general, people you meet along the way give you a cheery wave, especially if you wave first. Whether they are boaty sort of people…

or just folk out on the towpath…

or the man surveying a bridge for repair…

We've done most of our boating in the North-West Midlands so far, but I don't think it's an especially NWM thing, though no doubt some parts are better at it than others. On our way out of Runcorn this morning we met other evidence of people co-operating, from the context of the industrial revolution.

I couldn't work out, from the canal, exactly what this building was, but a few yards along it also had this legend set into the brickwork.

So perhaps it had been some sort of housing project. It was as we were exiting Runcorn that I was struck by the difference between the town and the country. Not one person, in the more populous parts, thought it might be appropriate to even nod a greeting. I got to wondering at what population density the transition occurs. How many people do you need to be encountering before it becomes too exhausting to greet each one, and the anonymous city mentality sets in? The people that cross your path are no longer really people.

As we moved onto the main section of the Bridgewater Canal we cruised past the Daresbury Science Park. It gives me the creeps! Daresbury was the birthplace of Lewis Carroll, but this place reminds me more of something out of C S Lewis' science fiction trilogy part 3 (That Hideous Strength). It has many buildings, including a water tower and its own power sub-station. It has multiple windows but nobody behind them. It has notices along the waterfront warning you to keep off, but nobody making use of the path or moorings.

For the first time ever, today we saw someone outside one of the buildings, having a quiet smoke. I slowed down and called across to him: "Are you the only who works there? We've never seen anyone else. Is it run by robots?" "Aliens", he replied.

And I thought that must be how the good citizens of the more densely populated parts we cruise through think of a boater who gives them a cheery greeting. Something from another planet!

Well, the Bridgewater canal has given me food for thought. One of its more homely characteristics is that the bridges are identified by their names, rather than just having a number attached.

But don't ask me what the lengths of rope were doing there. Perhaps they were left by an alien.


  1. Just to creep you out even more, that's not a water tower at Daresbury. It's the former Nuclear Structure Facility -- although it's difficult to find out exactly what it did. Whatever it was, it's now a 'former', so maybe not so creepy after all.

    1. Thanks for making me feel better, Adam – I think!