Cholmondeston to Middlewich
A change in the weather today, with rain overnight and heavy showers this morning, one of which manifested itself just as I emerged to untie and set off through Cholmondeston lock. Also manifesting itself at that very moment was a Teddesley hire boat, which overtook me and took the lock. It was all for the best though as it allowed the following boat Harlequin to catch up and its very helpful crew assisted me not only through Cholmondeston but through the next lock as well.
One of my dream homes is situated at Church Minshull lock. I've no idea what its like inside, but the location and the views in both directions along the Middlewich branch are fantastic:
The "branch" is one of my favourite stretches of canal. All the advantages of the Main Line, wide, deep, generous bridgeholes, but without the long lines of moored boats that detract somewhat further south.The embankments, although not as high or spectacular as those on the main line are largely free of tree growth and in many cases provide better views and I stopped for a while on the embankment overlooking Church Minshull to enjoy them.
I was looking out for another landmark on the branch. A large metal sign in BW Blue and Yellow corporate colours announcing to passing train passengers on the adjacent main line that they were about to cross the Shropshire Union Canal. I remember it from my early boat trips in the 1970's (it seemed archaic then) and it was definitely there last time I came this way in 2006 but today all that remains are the posts that carried it.
It's a shame it's gone, but I doubt whether passengers on today's high-speed services on the West Coast Main Line even noticed it.
There's another great lock cottage at Wardle lock at the junction with the Trent & Mersey in Middlewich,
but no sign of its well-known occupant, ex-boatlady Maureen Ward who, I understand is unwell.
In the spirit of more leisurely boating appropriate to my new situation I decided to call it a day at Middelwich, but not before getting one last soaking working down the town's locks and tying up just before the park.