The planning notices, together with Peel Ports documentation, is available Click here
Narrowboats taking part: –
- The Great Escape (TGE), with Mo & Mike Wood
- Cormorant 2 (C2), with Lynn & Bob Hallam
- Sacre Bleu (SB), with Janet Dalgliesh & David Harle
- Unique (U), with Lynne & Roger Mellor
- Dabbling (D) , with Jan & Ged Bird
Since nb Dabbling’s launch in 2015, her ‘home mooring’ has been on the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie. We have made local short trips, between the more distant cruises, but have only been to Chester once and then we did not progress beyond the upper moorings in the City. With restrictions over the last two cruising seasons it seemed the time to make our second trip to Chester, including progressing to the northern end of the Shroppie at the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum.
With interest from several 4Cs Boats in our idea we started to develop a cruise plan and looked to see how it could be expanded further. The idea of the River Weaver & Caldon Canal came to mind, but this would involve back-tracking back down the Shroppie through Chester and across the Middlewich Branch, so what about sailing the Manchester Ship Canal and making a ‘cruise ring’? With research into the Peel Ports MSC information the cruise was formulated, dates were organised & then reorganised (Cormorant 2 repaint schedule) !!
Started with an informal couple of nights at Sykes Hollow on Middlewich Branch for TGE, SB and D, plus the weather was so good a BBQ seemed a good idea.
After that a gentle cruise up to Chester (awaiting C2 to catch-up) we moored for a couple of nights to take in the historic City and group meal (C2 now having caught-up).
Then cruised the canal in the cutting adjacent the City Walls and down Northgate Locks staircase, through the basin and passed the historic boatyards. Moored near Chester Zoo and met up with U for ‘Pimms O’clock’.
Cruised top end of the Shroppie (very weedy as had been warned). The 4Cs ‘flotilla’ arrived ‘en masse’ as the Museum Trip Boat was on a turn around!
Arrangements sorted with the Boat Museum, made our way to the lower basin and the moorings, which were by the ‘Holiday Inn’ Hotel , which was booked-up with weddings and there was a couple of nights late discos !! Pleased that Hilary and Ric (Commodore) Whitby joined the group, guesting on C2. Disappointment with the Museum was that it did not feel setup (moorings & facilities) for welcoming visiting boats. U were not travelling on with the group as they had alternative plans for the Llangollen.
While at the Museum it was Jan’s and Ged’s 40th Wedding Anniversary so a ‘Ruby Murray’ Restaurant trip was organised – thank you to all for a great night and your best wishes.
The MSC passage is possible for pleasure craft, but it does involve some ‘Administration’ !!! Even with all the prior preparation (forms, documents, ‘worthiness’ certificates) the MSC was not confirmed until the morning of the passage, then to be advised there was no commercial traffic that day and we had free choice of times.
Exiting the Museum onto the MSC involved a lock with swing-bridge over, which required liaison with two separate organisations! The passage was approximately 7 miles and took around 2 hours (saving 5 days back-tracking on canals), with the landscape of the oil refinery in the majority, plus a couple of moored ‘big-ships’. At Runcorn we turned right to pass though ‘Marsh Lock’ onto the River Weaver.
The Weaver is a favourite of D with the wide waterway and deeper draught under the hull, an opportunity to raise the engine revs and clear the tubes.
Moored at Sutton Weaver was the Daniel Adamson ‘The Danny’, a 1903 steam tug that was converted in 1936 into an ‘art deco’ style hospitality boat for the MSC Company to invite people and promote the the canal. SB organised an exclusive visit for us to view this historic boat, its restoration story and continuing cruises / activities available.
A favoured mooring of boaters on the Weaver is the isolated ‘Devil’s Garden’ area, which the 4Cs took over for a BBQ evening, although the cows did try to gate-crash at one stage !!
The Weaver has big-locks that allowed larger boats to get up to Anderton & Northwich and the lock keeper had the four 4Cs boats, plus another, five-abreast. With a servicing trip to Northwich, including purchases from the pie shop, we then planned for our trip up the Anderton Boat Lift, but as has happened at several places on the network this year, there was an sudden stoppage – water needed pumping out of the drywell !! Thankfully, with several pumps running full-time, the passage of all 4Cs boats was possible with only a 24 hour delay.
Back on the Trent & Mersey Canal, we headed south for Middlewich and beyond ? Unfortunately, for family reasons, C2 and D had to change their cruising plans and the Caldon Canal excursion was postponed for another cruise, also D would leave the group at Middlewich to head back to her home mooring . A final cruise meal was held at the ‘Big Lock’ pub to celebrate our time together.
A big thank you to Hilary & Ric, Mo & Mike, Lynn & Bob, Janet & David and Lynne & Roger for their excellent company on this our first organisation of a 4Cs cruise. Told this qualifies us to organise another ??
Jan & Ged Bird – nb Dabbling