Sunday, April 08, 2007

Canal Cruise: Nantwich to Bunbury

It was Good Friday, the sun was shining and it was the perfect day for a sail on the Shropshire Union Canal. There was a lot of traffic on the road and for once the canal was a faster way of travelling. It’s a short sail from the basin a Nantwich to the staircase locks at Bunbury.
I was a good thing that I was sailing rather than trekking because the towpath was closed for maintenance. Hopefully they will continue this work along the canal as there are some very poor bits of towpath around there.
We stopped for lunch near Hurleston Junction and could hear the clatter of the lock paddles being wound up as boaters came back from their holidays on the Llangollen Canal. A little further on is another junction at Barbridge, the Middlewich Branch of the canal.
As well as he usual ducks, moorhens, geese and swans there was a cormorant on the canal. A bird I am more used to seeing in the docks in Liverpool
This is a rural landscape but there is some sign of industry. An old brick kiln can be seen by the canal, now covered in trees. It is hard to see how this could be restored in any useful way other than as a holiday home for TeleTubbies.
At Bunbury there is a two rise staircase lock which is popular with onlookers. By the side of the lock is a stable block which once housed the horses used to pull the narrowboats along the canal. There is a shop by the lock which was very handy for me to buy the latest Canal Boat and Inland Waterways magazine.
We didn’t go down the locks, instead we filled up with water and turned around and headed back for fish and chips at the new Olde Barbridge Inn.
A round trip of 12 miles and for once my feet weren’t hurting! Canal cruising does have some obvious advantages over towpath trekking. The Shropshire Union is one of my favourite canals and it is interesting to compare it to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. There is much more traffic on the Shroppie and it is much more closely connected to the rest of the canal network. It was nice to see some classic cabin cruisers amid the modern narrowboats. There were a few wrecks which is always a shame given how expensive it is becoming for new boaters to start a life afloat.
Tomorrow it is back to the Leeds Liverpool and back to the towpath for me.

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