Wednesday, 22 June 2016

In the land of the wiches

Passing one of the flashes; lagoons caused by subsidence
The only sandwich you'll get round here is at Tesco but you can have a Northwich, Middlewich and Nantwich instead.
We are in the land of the wiches – salt mining country since Roman times and a area of total contrasts. We spent a day in Nantwich, an elegant, wealthy town where footballers' wives can skip across the street from the Aga showroom to Christian's interiors, via any number of coffee shops and boutiques too en route.

Seadog Brian leads the way
From here we moved on north, tempted briefly by an another attempt at the Llangollen but opting in the end to turn east along the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie to, you guessed, Middlewich.
We moored overnight outside the town in a secluded and spectacularly sited spot, looking way down at the River Weaver and the distant Winsford flashes.
Spectacular views down into the Weaver Valley
Then into the busy canal town where the Shroppie T-junctions into the north-south bound Trent & Mersey. I'm afraid it's far from my favourite canal spot though. I don't know why; it has decent moorings and some good canalside pubs. It's always cluttered with hire boats, though, with two bases in town and others nearby, and the four locks are slow and heavy.
Heavy, stiff and nasty - welcome to the canals, hireboaters
It's a stark industrial contrast to Nantwich, too, but even so, the canalside still needn't seem so grubby and ill-loved. Especially as it's such a busy thoroughfare for boats. It was all summed up for me by the ironic graffiti on an almost impossibly heavy lock paddle – 'CRT Paddle of the Year'. On what is the first or second lock many hireboaters will reach. Are we trying to put them off?
But there are no more locks now for many miles as we head on north, just more and more evidence of the salt industry, be it acres of subsided and derelict land where old salt mines have collapsed, sudden wide lagoons beside the canal created by the same process or the sprawling and semi-decayed salt plants – the largest of which is now yet another UK arm of the Indian Tata empire along with Jaguar Land Rover and the old British Steel.
Tonight we are moored by the Lion Salt Works, a historic open pan salt works that has now been restored as a museum with Lottery funding and had dinner in the Salt Barge pub surrounded by sepia photos of the area in its salt producing heyday.

And finally...
I think he needs to go to Specsavers!


  1. Hi, glad to see that you are blogging again!
    Where are headed after the Lion Works?
    We are headed South after visiting Liverpool and currently joing the Bridgewater canal.
    Keith & Dianne
    Fruit of The Vine

  2. Gosh it must be wild country you are travelling through when you have to send Captain Brian on ahead to scout out the trail. Extra rations as danger money I reckon :-)