In this first of two entries, Trustee John Dodwell cruises, and sings the praises of, the often overlooked Middlewich Branch.
There are some who think of the 10 miles (or so) Middlewich Branch as being just a link between the Trent and Mersey and the main Shroppie – and I must admit I’ve thought like that in the past. A relatively modern canal (1830s built) with some straight lines and 4 deep and sometimes difficult to work locks – and with an above average chance of queues at locks.
Yet the Arm has more to offer than that. Having embankments means having good views over the surrounding countryside (see photo right at Church Minshull). And this time, we made a point of stopping at Church Minshull to go and have an evening meal at “The Badger” of which we’d heard good reports.
These were justified and we learnt the pub/restaurant had re-opened and been extended four years ago after about 8 years’ closure – which is good news. We didn’t moor at the visitor moorings and so, being deep drafted, we needed the gangplank to get ashore. We then followed the footpath through the woods to the pub.
The following day we saw signs of towpath edge repairs (see photo) and went on to Middlewich – where we were pleased to see Maureen Shaw’s old lock cottage is being repaired by the new owners. Got drenched by a heavy shower doing down the locks but we then enjoyed a sunny evening as we went north through some lovely countryside – I reckon this part of the T&M is underrated (see main photo above).
We passed under some intriguing distinctly non-Brindley looking bridges (see photo below) – maybe rebuilds when the T&M was railway owned? – I’m sure someone will know! We tied for the night just after the Lion Salt works and enjoyed a lovely sunset.
John Dodwell was formerly one of our 10 trustees. He owns Helen, a 51ft old BCN tug/icebreaker which draws 3ft and is based near Stourbridge, West Midlands. His waterways interest goes back to the early 1960s.
John’s been involved in the waterways since the early 1960s and he enjoys all aspects of the waterways. To pick out one oddity, he was pleased and surprised to see about a dozen herons this June around the BCN Main Line, including two under the M6 motorway!See more blogs from this author