I had not visited the Shroppie before and my expectations of its beauty had been set high by past conversations with boaters. Floating weedMy wife and I planned to spend 3 days making our way along the canal by car, stopping at the locks and any other features of note. But before starting we visited the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port. I found this to be interesting but not something I could recommend travelling a long way to see. The waterways were covered in floating green weed of some foreign variety introduced by some unknown person. It’s a never ending job removing the weed at the rate of 40 tons a week so said a museum official.

I had booked a couple of nights in the Middlewich Travelodge and intended to cover the most of the canal from just south of Chester down to its junction with the Staffs. and Worcs. at Autherley junction just north of Wolverhampton. The first day was sunny and we managed to visit the locks down as far as the start of the Middlewich Branch of the canal. The second day it rained and rained so we took shelter in Little Moreton Hall, a Tudor house managed by the National Trust situated near Congleton – no canal photography this day. In July my wife and I stayed near Plymouth for 9 days with the purpose of photographing the Cornwall fishing villages. As it rained every day but two our membership of the National Trust ensured we didn’t get too wet. Mind you, on visiting the fourth historic house we were running out of enthusiasm for them!

Anyway, on the third day of this trip day the weather recovered and it was warm and sunny if a little windy in some exposed sections of the canal. I covered the Middlewich Branch and then the main canal down to Audlem, a well known and beautiful spot just north of Market Drayton.

I must say it’s great to see families on the canal, especially where there’s more than one child. They have so much fun when they have company of their own age and this should encourage future interest in the canals.

Mike below had just retired. He had taken delivery of his boat about 2 hours before and had never handled a boat before. He is single handing it! He says he has been reading about canal navigation for the last 5 years in preparation for this. A brave man! and good luck and weather in his planned first cruise which is extensive. The photos were taken at Beeston Iron and Stone Locks near Bunbury.

All hands to the pump. A large family navigating Cholmondeston Lock on the Middlewich Arm.

Dee and Ron from Welshpool approaching the Shroppie from the Llangollen canal through the four Hurleston Locks. They were accompanied by their nephew Christopher. Strangely Dee didn’t want to be photographed but asked me to take Christopher working the locks. I caught Dee on camera nevertheless as shown in the second picture. Christopher had other ideas about cooperating for a photo with Ron, but I managed to catch him off-guard in the final photo.  I promised Dee to email her a photo of Christopher.

Teenagers line up on a beam waiting to spring into action while junior winds the paddle at Hurleston Locks. The ladies take it easy while the teenagers learn about handling the locks.

Lazy summer days at Hack Green Locks near Nantwich.

Super pub at Audlem – a great place to moor for the night and watch others negotiate Lock 13.

Ken and Pat Bromley from Runcorn area. An attractive and well maintained boat. Pat paints the traditional flowers on the boat while Ken does the housework!? They are members of a Runcorn canal society which I thinks is the Runcorn Locks Restoration Society i which they have now informed me below is the Bridgewater Motor Club and is celebrating its 60th this year. …I must get an SD socket fitted to my head then I would remember and recall conversations better. Can anyone confirm or otherwise this society is correct? If so please leave a comment below.

Dog guarding tiller – interesting patterns in his coat. The nearest I can identify it to is an English Pointer. Can any one identify it, maybe its owners? If so please leave a comment below.

Ken (see above) said I might bump into the Chairman of his society and I did manage to remember the name of the boat but not its owner. His son (on the right) had delivered the boat to Audlem earlier that day. In constructing this article I’ve just noticed a young lady peering out of the side so I don’t know her name either!

A family approaching Audlem centre from the south. High spirits from the daughter who was practising statue poses and about to make a quick duck before the bridge asserted itself.