Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A hot day's cruise to Worsley

And it was hot – very hot! It hadn't been as sticky a night as we had expected, and the day started dull, but the heat was beginning to build and the skies had cleared by the time we left Lymm. As we slipped out into the countryside again, we realized that being on the water, where the air is cooler even without the breeze we had, was going to be the best thing for us if the temperatures were going to rise as had been forecast.

Hot weather's good for nature's scents, and privet was dominant today, with meadowsweet and rose adding their accompaniments from time to time. Buttercups and clover splashed over the towing-path bank, and countless other flowers whose names I know not, but which made the day brighter still.

We parted company with the railway for much of the time, losing it altogether after it cut across Sale on its way east, so our journey was all the more peaceful for that. There were very few boats on the move. We had the canal to ourselves for long spells of time.

Little Bollington was quickly passed. It is very little! Then into the Dunhams, with the stately Dunham Massey Hall on our right.
And then into the sprawl of Sale. I had been given a bad impression of Sale; we found it to be largely unjustified. It was the now familiar scene of expensive homes on both sides of the canal, gardens, private moorings on the berm bank. We moored for lunch in such a place on the southern tip of he town, though here was no different from yesterday's experience of the Bridgewater in presenting us with a stone-edged bank with neither armco nor mooring rings, and a grass verge so stony that hammering in pins was something of a challenge.

The clean, tidy appearance of Sale's canal faded as we headed north, and we arrived in parts in which we'd not choose to moor overnight. The expensive properties had gone, and graffiti adorned bridges, walls and fences. Grimy industrial sites further blighted the picture, and litter was commonplace. This got worse still as we moved on into the smaller town of Stretford.

All the while, the canal had been uncommonly straight, and this continued after we'd veered left onto the Leigh Branch, up through the huge Trafford Park Industrial Estate to the Barton Swing Aqueduct.
This is a straight canal!

Barton Swing Aqueduct, this 19th century engineering marvel, is a 235 foot long crossing over the mighty Manchester Ship Canal, which swings at 90° on a central pivot to allow tall ships to pass. Sadly, we didn't get to see that happen.
Approaching the aqueduct

I've learned recently that the Bridgewater Canal is considered to be the forerunner of all modern canals. Engineered by James Brindley, opened in 1765, it follows a single contour for its entire length, and has, therefore, no locks. It crosses the River Irwell on a stone aqueduct, a pioneering concept in its day. And so it became the inspiration of many of the canals which followed it. “Indeed,” says the Nicholson Guide, “its wide gauge, lock-free course and frequent use of aqueducts makes many later canals look retrograde.”

Passing through a very new-looking pair of floodgates south of Worsley, and seeing several other boats moored on both sides alongside parkland, we tied up for the night.

The heat didn't really let up. The fridge ran for hours without ceasing, and the battery voltage had dropped quite low by bed-time. But it was a beautiful night, the western sky multi-coloured until very late, opposite a full, red moon.


  1. Oooh! Now you are somewhere I have not yet traveled. When I get going again I will probably be about a week behind you :-( going much slower! Cheers

  2. I hope you enjoy it as much as we are, John! Bon voyage! We may well see you around Liverpool, as we come out from the docks perhaps.