Northwich – the black and white town where buildings lift and bridges swing

When you leave the Anderton Boat Lift you have the choice of a left or a right turn. We decided to head left first – the shortest end – only around 7 miles to the head of navigation at Winsford. Our first stop was at Northwich where the whole town seems to be black and white….



….including the impressively engineered swing bridges. Not often operated now, they were built to allow access to the sea going cargo ships that serviced local industry.


It’s a town built, quite literally, on the salt industry. When, in the late 1800s, buildings started collapsing due to subsidence from salt mines they reverted to the medieval timber frame method of building and, instead of solid foundations, buildings had jacking points. If the ground beneath them subsided the they could be jacked up to be made level, or even put on rollers and moved to a more stable location. There are still plenty of these buildings to see, the largest of which is the old post office, now a Wetherspoons pub called the Penny Black.


We set out the next day to head for Winsford Flash – the head of Navigation. There are a couple of locks to negotiate but they’re all worked for you which is a joy. After the first lock there’s a boatyard and Gordon fell in love with this old rusting tug. What a restoration project that would be!


On arriving at Vale Royal Lock we found that nb Harnser was waiting on the lock landing to come down. Apparently the lock keeper apologised for keeping him waiting but that we’d taken an unexpectedly long time between locks. Oops – sorry about that. Must have been Gordon slowing down to admire the tug!

ValeRoyalLock HarnserValeRoyal

Winsford Flash is not in CRT jurisdiction and we were warned that it can be too shallow to navigate. We decided to take the risk and ‘wind’ the boat here. There were boats moored that looked to be sitting in plenty of water so we weren’t too worried.


We ended up mooring outside the Red Lion pub and it would have been rude not to go in for a drink. Turns out that one of their gimmicks is to serve some drinks in ‘odd’ glasses. My G & T turned up in a flower vase and I spotted someone else’s drink being served in a jam jar! It was a lovely evening and we adjourned back to the boat to take advantage of one of their canal side tables to have another G & T – this time in a more conventional glass.

FlowerVaseGin       RedLionMooring

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