Last Monday we set out in glorious sunshine towards the terminus of the Shropshire Union Canal at Ellesmere Port, on the Wirral Peninsular.
From here one can look out over the Manchester Ship Canal and beyond, across the wide mudflats that show at low tide in the estuary of the River Mersey. While in the grey hazy distance to the north the silhouette of the Royal Liver Buildings can be clearly identified along the waterfront in Liverpool.
Along Chester North Wall towards the Staircase Locks
An old warehouse in Chester Basin now a pub
We could have covered the nine miles in one day had we wanted to and had we started earlier enough in the morning but after our last minute shopping spree in the city it was 4 pm by the time we arrived at the rural mooring at Bridge 134 near Chester Zoo and decided to call it a day.
After a quiet night and a good sleep we were ready to leave early on the Tuesday morning. But it rained all day and having decided to stay put until the rain ceased we remained at the mooring for a second quiet and peaceful night as well and it wasn’t till Wednesday that we set off and finally arrived at the top basin at Ellesmere Port.
Algae collecting on the canal north of Chester
The canal up to here was liberally covered with floating weed which because of the fresh southerly prevailing wind at the time seemed to thicken up as we approached the end of the canal. It was quite dangerous at the Museum where the green blossom-like petals built up in front of the lock gates and could have encouraged young children at the very least to believe it was grass and therefore to be tempted to walk on it. It was a full time job all day for two members of staff with rakes and a wheel barrow to keep the gate area clear.
Large white trumpets of Hedge Bindweed taking over
Navigationally this petal-like algae was no hindrance to the propeller as ‘Futurest’ moved slowly through it, though some boaters seemed to complain about the number of times they had to stop and dive into their weed box. I think this was due to the fact that there was also present on the water, though in lesser amounts, the longer weed that looks like a floating mass of giant watercress, or perhaps water ivy would be a better description. When ‘Futurest’ unavoidably encountered this it was easy enough to stop the propeller and drift through the mass until it was past. On checking at Ellesmere Port very little had collected around the propeller shaft.
Arrival at Ellesmere Port
Ellesmere Port was our mooring for two days in total while we shopped and entertained my friends Peter and Isobel on board. They live locally in the Wirral and he is a Master Mariner but unlike me he remained at sea until he retired a few years ago. He and I were colleagues in Blue Star Line many years ago so it was lovely to see him and his wife again and to be able to roll back the years for a little while.
Sunset across the Museum
Janis and I didn’t need to visit the Museum itself since we have both been there before by car so on Friday we turned around in the weed at the head of the lock down into the Lower Basin and said goodbye to the Museum. But we needed to moor up at Bridge 134 again in order to rendezvous with Janis’ friend Nigel who had volunteered to crew for the rest of the weekend. Having arrived safely, he came down on ‘Roots and Wings’ to Chester where we all moored up on Saturday afternoon in the Basin near the area that is being redeveloped.
‘Futurest’ moored in the rain in Chester Basin
Though the weather had been mixed it had failed to spoil our enjoyment of a lovely and rewarding trip.
As soon as I was tied up I set off to the Post Office at St. John’s Street to collect my license disks that my son Alex had put in the post for me but they hadn’t yet arrived so I shall have to visit again tomorrow before we set off towards the south.
But while I wait here with ‘Futurest’ near to the post office Janis wanted to carry on south today in order to give her friend some cruising time. So all three of us this morning took ‘Roots and Wings’ up through the staircase at the North Gate of the city and the three remaining locks up to Christleton a couple of miles to the south of the city.
The canal from the North Wall down through a garden
I left them there and walked back to my ship along the towpath but was caught in the middle by a very noisy and fierce thunderstorm. The rain pelted down in torrents reducing visibility to little more than a few yards for about three quarters of an hour but I was able to take cover under one of the frequent bridges so arrived back eventually in an almost dry condition.
Tomorrow after the visit to the post office, I shall set off in hot pursuit of ‘Roots and Wings’.