To the woods… again!

From Jacksons Bridge No 7 to Marbury Woods Footbridge, a distance of 16 miles, 2¾ flg and 7 locks.

A couple of boats had passed us by the time we got up but there was only one directly in front of us as we worked our way through Minshull Lock No 2 . By the time we arrived at Stanthorne Lock No 3 that one boat had turned into about 4 and we stood around for quite a while. There were quite a few boats coming up but we seemed to be at the tail of our queue of traffic.

It was chaos at Wardle Lock No 4. There were two fibreglass cruisers moored up on the tail end of the lock moorings by the bridge and with boats queuing to go down the lock they really didn’t help and the man sitting on one of the boats just sat there and looked smug and arrogant. I can’t understand why people behave like that, why moor up on lock moorings and sit on your boat watching the chaos you’re causing. Actually they nearly got rammed about three times, its a real pity they didn’t as that might have made them realise how stupid they were being.

Of course coming out of the lock and going through Middlewich Junction  is always fun because people who are staying on the main line seem to forget that there is a junction and there are usually boats all over the place. So it was situation normal as we came out of the lock, and manoeuvred round the boat that was waiting to come up, and turned sharp left. It’s always worth sending a crew member on, preferably with a phone or a walkie talkie, here so that collisions can be avoided.

If we thought it had been bad at Wardle lock then the situation at the main flight of three locks can only be described as a complete farce. Boats all over the place and to top it all off one boat had left the bottom paddles up on the bottom lock so the pound between the middle and bottom lock was a long way down. Luckily one of the boats coming up had seen what had happened and they ran some water through the top lock which overflowed down into the rather empty pound and with a sensible crew on the bottom lock who I think stopped a boat coming up when they shouldn’t have done meant that by the time we got to go through the pound that it was only a foot or so down (the previous boat had had to resort to flushing itself out of the lock).

By the time we got out of the bottom lock the queue for boats coming up was almost all the way back to the old BW Wharf by the A54.

We pulled up just beyond the water point and grabbed some lunch and supplies from the Tesco Metro.

By Middlewich Winding Hole we saw a pair of swans with cygnets and the swans were chasing away anything they thought could be a threat: ducks, boats, and even people on the tow-path. A photographer complained that we spoiled his shot by having our boat in the way!

At Middlewich Big Lock we met a boat coming up who had not been boating for years and were trying to remember just how things worked. She was heavily pregnant and I’m not sure that lock working is a recognised form of late pregnancy exercise, but she seemed to be enjoying it.

As you approach Wincham Footbridge No 191 you pass the Victoria Stadium (aka The Marston’s Arena) home to not only Northwich Victoria football club but also the Manchester United Reserves.

Marbury Woods seemed like a good place to stop for the night and we moored up at pretty much the same spot as last time. A nice, quiet location until a boat decides to come and moor up on the offside moorings (which I think are not supposed to be over night ones). When I say opposite I mean directly opposite, almost perfectly lined up. They then spent about 40 minutes trying to get their satellite dish set up so that they could watch something on TV (A tacky cheesy talent show on ITV is my guess). Why? Why moor up there, it obviously not good for satellite TV reception and there is a lot of good mooring on the towpath side so they could have moored up away from us, but they chose not to.

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