|Moored at the Devil's Garden|
|Handsome and huge - the Weaver swingbridges|
|Coming into one of the giant double locks|
There's an elegance to the locks and the black and white painted bridges that recalls the golden era of the waterways. The water's edge factories are far from handsome – they never were and now as they slide into disuse and dilapidation they are a sad reminder of the Weaver's better days. The massive chemical works at the Runcorn end which we reached today might be unsightly too but at least they are very much functioning still.
|The Brunner Mond soda ash works faces you as you leave the boat lift|
Ww turned right in front of it and headed west towards the Mersey. The factory is soon left behind as the river threads through a steep sided tree-lined valley before passing another, equally large, derelict factory and heading to Saltersford Locks. The locks on the Weaver are huge and paired, with a lock-keeper at each to operate them for we fortunate few boaters.
The river itself is extremely gentle natured, with just the mildest flow on its deep water. It brushes briefly with habitation at Acton Bridge where there is a caravan park, a smattering of houses and a couple of accessible pubs, then heads into the countryside again. Until now it has run almost parallel with the canal up at the top of the hill but from Dutton Locks it moves away, still in lush, tree filled countryside.
It's here at Dutton Locks that the MV Chica lies sunk and slowly mouldering away. It's been here since sinking more or less overnight back in 1993 and being abandoned by its owners. At the time of its demise it was operating, without much luck, as a hotel boat on the Weaver but its prior history is still something of a mystery. It could be a wooden sail powered cargo boat built in Norway, it may have done gun running in the Med and smuggled booze across the Gibraltar Straits, or maybe that's al folklore. For more info, take a look here.
|The wreck of the mysterious MV Chica at Dutton Locks,|
From the boat we looked out at bar tailed godwits feeding in the water opposite as well as some small, mysterious grey/black birds that defied identification by diving underwater every time we came near. We reckon they are little grebes. Elsewhere today we've seen buzzards, a tufted duck, golden eye ducks and a still to be identified hawk on the ground with some prey.
But we haven't seen any UFOs though some kids back in 1978 did claim to see a spaceship and some aliens here at the Garden. Wonder what they'd been smoking?
|Beer and BMX at the Mad Max style encampment at Devil's Garden|
|Just what is going on inside those myriad pipes and towers?|
We've back-tracked and are moored again in the Devil's Garden. Tomorrow we will re-trace our path back past the boat lift and head into the eastern half of the Weaver to Northwich and Winsford.