By the time we’d finished all the chores at the Aqueduct Marina, it was late afternoon, but reluctant to stump up another night’s extortionate mooring fee (second only to Upton-on-Severn in our experience) we were determined to be off, and moor up at the first sensible spot. Hopefully near the village of Church Minshull itself, as there were rumours of a good pub to eat at, and although it was a bright sunny afternoon, it was blowing a gale.
Fortunately, just down the canal, there was a SUCS Mooring. Although you can theoretically tie up pretty well anywhere on the tow path side, it’s not always pleasant or practical. On the Shropshire Union Canal, the estimable Shropshire Union Canal Society have sponsored numerous mooring spots. These are usually nicely out in the boonies, with a splendid view, proper mooring rings, and are kept well maintained rather than allowed to get all overgrown. Quite a few have BBQ facilities and/or picnic tables. Originally restricting themselves to the Main Line, we’d noticed – and taken advantage of – several up the Llangollen Canal (technically the Llangollen Branch of the Shroppy) that had materialised since our last visit. Well done chaps.
These moorings above Church Minshull and the River Weaver on the Middlewich Arm were a splendid example of the joys of SUCS moorings; we were soon tied up. Bidding adieu to the Captain we headed down a steep path (part of the River Weaver Way) down through the woods, over the River, and found ourselves at The Badger Inn – an equally splendid spot for our dinner break. After a memorable repast, the climb back up from the River, through the woods, in pitch dark, was an interesting form of post prandial exercise.
Friday morning was less clement, and after a steady but unremarkable run we moored up in Middlewich just before the junction with the Trent & Mersey Canal. The town itself was nothing special, so after a snack lunch, and hitting the nearby Tesco store, we headed off again. Middlewich junction is fascinating, but a horrible bottleneck: the junction is between two locks, and the Arm starts immediately with another one. Put a major boatyard and chandlery in the middle, and a couple of hire bases either side, and the potential for chaos on a Friday afternoon is plenty. With so much going on, stopping for pictures was out of the question.
Never ones to make a decision when procrastination can be enjoyed, we eventually decided at the junction that we would turn Right. The original “plan” had been to turn left, and follow the Cheshire Ring up past the Anderton Lift, through Lymm and Manchester, up to Marple, and then down the Macclesfield Canal to Kidsgrove (back on the Trent and Mersey). However, at the last minute, and given our vague other plan to be back at Cropredy and home by mid/end October, this looked slightly ambitious. So it was a Right turn for Kidsgrove, followed by a return tripup the Macclesfield Canal and the Peak Forest Canal. There is no substitute for forward planning…
Anyway, heading South out of Middlewich, we determined to moor up at the first place that was away from the busy main road. No joy of SUCS here…It had a beautiful view of the salt works, which supplies over half of British salt.