That left five possibilities. Two had to be discarded when I discovered that the draft winter stoppage programme for 2012-13 would isolate them from most of the network over the winter (in one case for the whole November to March period!). A third looked interesting until I discovered it had a "mooring year" than ran from June to May, a new concept to me and not much good if you are looking for a mooring from October. I don't know whether or not that's negotiable but in any case it had poor public transport connections and it failed the cost-saving criterion, being even more expensive than Norbury Wharf.
But there were still two sites worth a visit. Another CRT on-line mooring was available at Middlewich, but on a "buy it now" rather than an auction basis. It passed the affordability criterion (although expensive for on-line) had water available, but no other facilities and met the accessibility criterion by both public and private transport. But when we went to look at the site we decided against: Sometimes you just get a "feel" that something's not quite right. For a start, despite having room for five or six boats, the mooring was deserted. Not only that but there didn't appear to be any sign of recent use by boats at all. Despite being on the "off-side" (i.e. not on the towpath and therefore theoretically more secure) it had a public footpath running alongside and was also overlooked by a new housing development opposite. Whether these are good reasons for rejecting it I know not, but it just wasn't right for us.
|The rejected mooring at Middlewich. The housing development on the opposite bank has been completed since then - and the boats have disappeared. (Photo from Waterscape/Mooring Vacancies without permission)|
Luckily, our next visit proved more successful.