An early start saw us heading north, hoping that we’d got the timings right to get through the tunnel. When we reached Dutton Stop Lock No 76 there were a couple of boats ahead of us and everyone was trying to work through the lock as fast as possible. To be honest if we’d just pushed both sets of gates open we could have all sailed through with no problems but the first boat wanted to do everything by the book.
We got through the lock and approached Preston Brook Tunnel (South end) and checking on our watches we were about 2 minutes over the entry window, but there was a boat only a couple of hundred feet in front of us so we went in. With the cabin lights on and the doors shut its quite easy to take Mintball through tunnels at a good speed because the light from the rear cabin windows helps you see where the back of the boat is.
We motored through the tunnel and made Preston Brook Tunnel (North end) with about 5 minutes to spare., so you can work out just how fast we were going. There was a small cabin cruiser waiting quite a way back from the tunnel, who made some stupid comment about how lucky we were that he’d “not decided to go into the tunnel early”. There are some really odd people on the waterways, and we met some more people like him on the way back, but more about them in a later entry.
The canal immediately north of the tunnel has always puzzled me. The Trent and Mersey Canal (Main Line - Middlewich to Preston Brook) south of the tunnel is a pretty fast piece of canal, as is most of the Bridgewater Canal . But the section north of the tunnel ( the Bridgewater Canal (Preston Brook Branch) ) isn’t, it seems to be shallow and silted up. We chugged slowly past Preston Brook Wharf and Claymoore Boats and under the M56 and onto the main line of the Bridgewater.
Its hard to write anything about the Bridgewater canal, its just so, well bland isn’t the right word, maybe nondescript is a better word. There is nothing wrong with the canal at all but there is nothing amazing about it, it just passes you by.
As you approach Timperley there’s a lot of new development which towers over the canal in a much more dramatic way than any of the old factories and mills that they’ve replaced.
The long straight from Timperley to Sale is popular with walkers and cyclists and rowers and the canal is wide and deep so even with the long linear mooring for the boat club you can still make good progress.
Stretford - Waters Meeting marks a sudden change from primarily residental surroundings to primarily industrial as you skirt round the edge of Trafford Park. Approaching Mosley Road Bridge No 44 your nostrils are assailed by smells from the Kellogg’s Cereal factory, and then immediately after that the smells of tar and phenol from the factory on the other side of the bridge, well I hope its from there!
Trafford Park has changed in some ways, but not in others, there are big new business centers and shopping malls but the canal still seems remote from much of this, almost as if all that is important to the canal is to reach the Manchester Ship Canal and Barton Swing Aqueduct
Once over the aquaduct I got the feeling of Deja Vu. Not much has changed, not until you approach the M602 Motorway Bridge No 49 where the entire canal was hidden in clouds of dust from the ongoing demolition of a big mill. The big mill on the towparth side as you approach Monton Turn has also gone and now there are houses there. Mintball was launched here on a warm June day in 1986.
The approach to Worsley is now dominated by a huge new development called “The Boatyard”, a development which although being canal side seems to just take from the canal and gives nothing back.
We moored up just by Worsley Footbridge No 51 on moorings which were surprisingly empty