|Tonight's mooring with the River Weaver way down below|
We are unanimous in voting the Weaver the highspot of our boating year and it's come as something of a shock to be back on the leaf and silt churning shallowness of the canals. Not helped by someone up there having turned the sprinkler system on in the skies. I'm surprised it worked after so long out of use!
The first miles after the Lift are a long and lock free stretch that circles round the edge of Northwich across a landscape still ravaged by salt extraction. The most famous example of this is The Lion Salt Works at Marston, the ruinous remains of which were featured on tv's 'Restoration' programme some years back.
|Restoration nears completion on the Lion Salt Works|
It is the last surviving open pan salt works in Britain and maybe in Europe and finally, in 2008 a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund kick-started major restoration work of the whole site to become a major museum. When we last passed this way the site was still a ruin surrounded by 'keep out' warnings but the change now is startling; restoration is almost complete and the museum opens next spring. See here for more details.
|Steam and stink from the vast ICI plant|
|A large new marina nearing completion|
|But another one certainly doesn't|
Anyway, we moored opposite what will be the entrance and this morning headed the few miles down to Middlewich. Middlewich is a bit of a boating hub – a sort of poor man's Braunston – with six locks (the first of them broad for some inexplicable reason since the rest are narrow), two hire fleets and a junction to the branch canal that nips off westwards to join the Shropshire Union. Which is where we are headed.
Poor old Middlewich doesn't offer much beyond the canal; it's a small, scruffy sort of place that has plenty of Indian restaurants, a couple of charity shops and – bizarrely – a shop selling motorsport memorabilia but not a lot else to delay one. Nice to report, though, that the new owners of Middlewich Narrowboats hire fleet have smartened their place up no end: the boats look smart and the formerly scruffy buildings a lot, lot smarter.
|Moo, that's a fine looking tug you've got down there|
|Please leave area immediately ... at 4mph?|