Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Next, Lymm

It was about a mile from our overnight mooring to Preston Brook Tunnel. A mile, and a top-lock of only a foot or so's depth. Again, the tunnel was single width, and subject to a timetable. As we left the lock, kindly managed by the crew of boats waiting to come up, we had five minutes to go before our ten-minute window opened. Plenty of time, though even then we had to wait at the tunnel mouth for a latecomer from the opposite direction to come out. He'd “shot the red” at the other end.
photo - geograph.org.uk
Leaving the north portal of the tunnel, we're now on the Bridgewater Canal. This is going to be interesting.

The Bridgewater Canal is privately owned by a large business concern called Peel's. They issue their own licence to boats whose home moorings are on their canal, and they've had an agreement with CRT that Bridgewater-licensed boats may travel on CRT canals, and vice-versa. Recently, however, Peel's have revoked their agreement, and are expecting CRT boats to buy a license in order to enter the Bridgewater. In effect, they're now saying that if you travel one way along their canal without their license, it can only be for a maximum of seven consecutive days, and you can't return before 28 days have passed. Otherwise, you are subject to a fee of £40. Naturally, CRT and the IWA are trying to talk them out of this, but the situation at the moment feels a bit unsettled. 

Peel's have said that those who booked to attend the International Mersey River Festival back in June, before they renegued on the deal (not their words!) may pass through without charge.


We're not attending the festival, obviously, but we have had our passage into Liverpool Docks, and our attendance at the IWA Festival of Water at Pelsall for several months, so we're hoping they'll make the same exception for us. We've been in contact with Peel's, but have had no reply. CRT have done all they can, and have contacted the Bridgewater office with confirmation of our bookings. As we passed along the first few miles of the canal this morning, we think we were photographed by an official, so we're on their radar. To pay, or not to pay? That is the question.

All that aside, the canal is broad and attractive. Passing through open countryside to start with, then along the edge of Stockton Heath, Grappenhall and Thelwell, it's bordered by pleasant houses, many of them with enviable canalside gardens and private moorings. Several day-boats zig-zagged their way up and down the canal. It's Sunday, and a hot and sunny Sunday to boot. But there was very little other traffic. Put off by the new licensing situation?

Our washing machine's developed a fault. It can't complete a cycle without manual help in the form of much button-pressing and knob-twisting. On the bright side, our new inverter and alternator are a huge improvement on the units they have replaced. With nothing for comparison prior to the instalment of the new ones, we had no way of knowing just how inefficient the old ones were. It feels like a new boat now!

Two miles below the small township of Lymm, we moored for the night. We now have two weeks in which to cover one week's travel.


It was a hot and muggy morning when we drove into Lymm. The canal is lovely, feeling very river-like at times. Under lowering skies, we passed under Brookfield Bridge, and moored amongst several other craft on both sides of the water. We tied up, locked up, and went to find lunch, and to explore this tiny town.

It's quirky, but not unattractive, and I can quite understand the high property prices (relative to other, nearby towns).

There are a lot more shops than we expected, but limited in scope. Can so many hairdressers really co-exist in one high street?

A dinosaur footprint is on display in a case near to the river, but we didn't go to look at it. Once you've seen one dinosaur footprint, you've seen them all really, haven't you? 

 We ate at the Golden Fleece Hotel. They served up some wriggly things with Grace's broccoli, though they weren't wriggling by the time they got to Grace. When she asked the waitress what sauce she recommended to accompany them, she fled off to the kitchen in genuine horror, and we were given complimentary desserts. Perhaps that was because they were embarrassed that they'd run out of the sauce.

And that was Lymm. We went back to the boat for a siesta. Was it the beers, the food, or the oppressive heat that made us sleepy? It rained for three minutes, then stopped. We would have welcomed a thunderstorm. Tomorrow, we move on, on what's forecast to be the hottest day since... well, for a very long time. We'll see!

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