Monday, 30 September 2013

My Favourite Canal Place?

Not even the locals would claim that Middlewich is a  scenic or even an attractive place. It doesn't have the rural charm of Braunston or the "roses-round-the-door", chocolate-box quality of Stoke Bruerne, but I like it.
The town is actually far less industrial than it once was as old photographs will show, but it's redeeming feature is certainly the canal. In just a short section of the Trent & Mersey you've got everything: broad locks, narrow locks, boatyards, bends, boatyards and bridges. There's even a junction, where the Middlewich branch (or should that be the Barbridge Branch, if you're already in Middlewich?) goes off.

Middlewich also means a lot to me because it was where some of my earliest boating trips started from, hiring from Willow Wren Kearns (as it then was, later to become Middlewich Narrowboats) in the winters of 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977 and (as we became older, wiser and richer) the Springs of 1980, '82 and '84.
You can read about those trips - and others - in The Boat Trip Years a record that, with the help of some of the other participants I have cobbled together recently.

So, I think that if I had to identify my favourite spot on the entire network it would be the bridge that carries the towpath of the Trent & Mersey main line over the junction with the "Middlewich branch". I wonder if you can see why?

The Bridge Itself: Classic Canalside Curves

To the Left: An equally classic bridge.

Right: The Trent & Mersey heads off towards the Potteries
. . .and behind you: The Shropshire Union's Middlewich branch, obviously enjoyed by the locals as well as boaters.

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