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Summer 2005 Anderton lift and River Weaver

We arrived at the Anderton Lift at 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon and were surprised to be told we could go down straight away if we wanted to. We decided to wait until the next morning. The rain stopped at 11.00, and were were on the 11.45 lift - perfect.

The lift is AMAZING. We couldn't get used to the idea of going down without having to pay out the ropes!

 

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Entering the lift from the T&M canal
Looking up at the other caisson balanced on its hydraulic ram
Our first view of the River Weaver
About to go back up the lift again

Spent some time talking to the engineer about the seals at at the end of the caisson. At the top, the canal is always at the same level so a simple rubber seal is sufficient, but at the bottom the caisson has to be able to stop at different levels depending on the state of the river, so there is a tapered seal which is raised hydraulically until it seals the gap properly regardless of where the caisson has been stopped.

 

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The clever seal between the caisson and the river
Looking back down at the river
You can pass under all the lift bridges without any need to swing them
A Variety of Bridges

The Weaver is absolutely beautiful. There is a fascinating variety of structures - swing bridges that don't need to be swung, pairs of locks (one large and one small) with old railway signals that aren't used any more, magnificently decorative sluice gates, and so on. In the locks you get a gentle shower from the freshwater molluscs that adorn the walls. The chemical works near Runcorn are a stark reminder of the river's commercial past, and there are not enough casual moorings yet, but the river is gentle and peaceful, and should be on everyone's "Must visit" list.

 

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Railway and Motorway bridges
Freshwater molluscs cover the lock walls
It's a bit industrial at Runcorn ...
... and rather scary!

The lock-keepers who do all the work for you, are struggling to manage on hopelessly inadequate budgets, and there is quite a backlog of maintenance. Vale Royal lock is a particular problem where the smaller lock has seriously collapsed. Boats are worked through the almost-derelict large lock, which has been dredged out and put back into service. The gates are leaky and are so stiff that they have to be winched open and shut by hand, the paddle gear is unreliable, and the lock-keeper really has to work incredibly hard as there is no motor to drive the hydraulics on the gates, paddles, and swing bridge; he has to work all the hydraulic pumps by swinging huge capstans on what is essentially a big ship lock.

 

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Most of the river Weaver is stunningly beautiful
Most of the river Weaver is stunningly beautiful
Most of the river Weaver is stunningly beautiful
Most of the river Weaver is stunningly beautiful
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There are some interesting craft to see
The sluices are a beautiful testament to Victorian engineering
Some repairs are desperately needed
The huge but very shallow expanse of Winsford Flash

It is rather scary to pass the limit of BW's jurisdiction at Winsford, in order to reach the giant Flash where you can turn around. Most of the flash is very shallow, and BW hand you notices warning that if you get stuck in the middle it is your problem as they won't venture there to help you. Apparently it is deepest towards the right hand side; certainly we stirred up a lot of mud when we gingerly ventured slowly out to the middle, so we turned back quite soon as the river was very low and we didn't want to get stuck.

So after 3 days we went back up the lift - just half an hour behind the OTHER "Keeping Up", which is owned by another Jones family and moors at Northwich. What a photo-opportunity it would have been, to have two Keeping Up's going up together.

And then we continued our journey to Chester, Llangollen, Birmingham, Gloucester, Stratford-upon-Avon and Birmingham (again, and yet again).

 

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