Tuesday, 19 January 2016

A surprise visitor

We had a very pleasant surprise this morning when there was a knock on the side of Waiouru.  Upon opening the side hatch we discovered Paul Balmer of Waterway Routes, the producer of that excellent series of electronic canal maps and cruise videos.  Paul spends much of the winter checking the accuracy of his maps and producing updates.  I doubt any of the other canal mapping companies spend as much time and effort keeping their product current.  Paul has been out checking the Trent & Mersey Canal and was hoping to complete the task by the end of the day.  He does it all either on foot or riding his folding bike.

Our first canal holiday was on the Llangollen Canal.  The three of us, Jan and I plus FMIL (favourite mother-in-law) have wonderful memories of that week.  Jan bought the Waterway Routes video of the canal as a 2015 christmas present for FMIL.  Hopefully it brought back memories on how not to throw a mooring rope!

In all the excitement of the visit I forgot to take a photo!

In the afternoon I decided to walk a short distance along the towpath towards Stoke.  The first noticable thing was how the uncouth colonials had been able to scare away all the other moored boaters.

IMG_8751Back to being happy with our own company.

The first stop was Middlewich Junction.  The boatyard and chandlery to the east and Wardle Lock to the west.  You can see from the photo of the boatyard that there was likely a commercial wharf here at one time.

IMG_8752 To the right in the photo is the entrance to the Wardle Canal which must be one of the shortest on the network.  The Trent and Mersey Canal Company built it to prevent the Chester Canal (now the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal) from joining their canal.  They then charged a very high toll for boats using the Wardle Canal. 


Wardle Lock

For many years the lock cottage was the home of Maureen Shaw who was a former boat woman and well known to local boaters.  She died in 2012 and the cottage is now being renovated by the new owners.

There were three boats moored on the towpath side of the ‘wide’ above Kings Lock.


Oops… looks like the boater at this end has a message from CRT!

When we first passed this way more than a decade ago I remember there being some rather large factories beside the canal.  Most of them have now gone.  The ‘wich’ in Middlewich means salt in old english and this area has a history of salt extraction and production from pre-Roman time.  The industry hasn’t totally gone from the area.


That’s not a mountain of snow!

So here is a puzzle.  West from here is Nantwich, further SW is Droitwich, north is Northwich, and we are in Middlewich.  Where is Southwich?


Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

There are five original "Domesday Wiches" mentioned in the Domesday Book - Middlewich, Nantwich, Northwich, Leftwich and Droitwich.

Marilyn McDonald said...

Do you remember a TV programme many years ago called South Riding? I seem to remember an explanation of why they called the fictitious place SOUTH Riding was that there would never be a south Riding in actuality - a naming convention that used three parts of what was normally a four parter. Knowing you, Tom, I am sure you have already looked this up - I await enlightenment from your erudite search of the net.
Cheers from a sunny warm West Coast of the South Island - I know sun and West Coast are not usually used in the same sentence, but the weather here yesterday was superb! Marilyn

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Marilyn,
Knowing the friendly West Coast I'm sure you will have discovered long lost distant relatives!

Marilyn McDonald said...

Tom, I am staunchly English by birth with no NZ relatives prior to the births of my own grandchildren, nephews, and nieces, so no possibility of relatives of mine down here!
Did you investigate the lack of a Southwich? Now, don't let me down, mate!

Tom and Jan said...

You missed the point. They are so friendly on the West Coast you think you've found long lost relatives. The "wiches" have been resolved.

Mike Todd said...

Your second photo I think really shows Kings Lock, next to the chandlery. The entrance to Wardle is off the right edge - OK so just a little bit stocks out!

Tom and Jan said...

Yes a poor description on my part!