|Uplands Basin Marina on the Trent & Mersey Canal near the Anderton Lift.|
Photo from their website, without permission.
Despite the superfluous word in its name - and I'll leave you to guess which one - Uplands got off to a good start when I rang to check that they had a suitable vacancy for Starcross and to arrange a viewing later on Tuesday morning. I got straight through to Dave, the manager, who created a good first impression and agreed to meet us and show us around at 11.30. He also wasn't fazed when we turned up half-an-hour later than that having tried to take a short cut to avoid Northwich on a road that, although shown on the OS map, is actually closed to vehicular traffic. Not only that, but I wasted even more time by calling in at nearby Anderton Marina under the mistaken impression that it was the one I was looking for! Doh!
So, how does it match up to my criteria: Well, the car journey took us over the 90 minutes, but that was due to the closed road and heavy rain and roadworks on the M6. The Transport Direct website says it's 67 miles and should take 83 minutes, which as it's mostly motorway seems about right. (I rarely drive above 60mph even on motorways). Transport Direct also says it can be done by public transport in 2h 13m taking a train to Warrington and then the 46 bus, but I reckon I could knock 10 minutes off that because I can walk to Lancaster station in less time than they suggest.
I had no qualms about security and the marina has all the usual services on site - although elsan disposal, showers and toilets are rather cheekily at the Sanitary Station just outside on the Trent & Mersey.
There's a good choice of routes: North to Wigan and Manchester for a further choice of three trans-pennine canals or continuing round the Cheshire Ring; and south to Middlewich for the midlands via the Trent & Mersey or across to the Shroppie and Llangollen canals. And, of course, a side-trip down the nearby Anderton Lift to the River Weaver.
Most important of all it just felt "right". Dave was happy to reserve a berth for me from October on the basis of a deposit, which he'll knock off the first payment, so we thought about it on the way home and rang him and signed up as soon as we got in.
The only criterion is doesn't meet is that of saving much money, being only fractionally cheaper than Norbury Wharf, but you can't have everything and now that I've sorted that out I'll soon be back on Starcross to resume the summer trip - but this time with a "final destination" (as they say on the railways) in mind.