|All alone in the picturesque stillness of Vale Royal|
We know we are alone because the Vale Royal lock keeper told us so; he'd just locked up the only other boat on the stretch, no-one else has come down to join us and the lock is now shut for the day.
I don't think I've ever had four miles of waterway entirely to myself – especially one so delightful.
We passed the last vestiges of population behind as we left Hunts Lock at Northwich – where the lock-keeper was a mine of information about the Weaver, with an iPad full of fascinating photos to show us. (That's the benefit of a quiet waterway; no-one's queueing up to use the lock!)
|This handsome wooden classic ...|
|and this ageing river tug both moored at Jalsea|
A couple of side stories here: the 3rd Lord Delamere was one of the pioneering settlers in Kenya in the early 1900s and ran several hundred thousand acres of ranches there. He was also one of the 'Happy Valley Club' of wealthy colonials whose antics of drinking, drug taking and wide swapping were made famous in the film White Mischief.
At this time the Vale Royal house was leased out to a wealthy businessman Robert Dempster who lived there with his daughter. When she married, she moved and acquired the 'modest' Sutton Hoo estate in Suffolk. When her husband died she hired an archaeologist to excavate some of the mounds on the estate – and he discovered the most important Anglo-Saxon burial site in Europe.
|The impressive Vale Royal Abbey, now restored as luxury apartments|