Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Salt Barge at Northwich

It is not a good sign when the ducks have left the canal and are wandering the streets - how wet is it going to be?!

John had planned today's ride, on Easter Sunday, and ten of us gathered at Chester Town Hall.  We set off, after a little introduction by John including some safety notes, but it was several miles before I realised I had forgotten to take my start up photo!

We had a pleasant start out to Delamere, meeting Ribble Clarion on their Easter weekend away (heading to The Anderton Boat Lift) and taking a short detour to The Station Cafe at Delamere whilst a rain shower passed over.

After this we retraced and dropped down to Norley and then Action Bridge - at every turn we saw the Cheshire Cycleway signs (a reminder to me to get the online entries live for the event we are holding in June!).  Crossing the bridge took us to Little Leigh, and the lanes north of Northwich.  

This corner of Cheshire is leafy green fields, salt mines and canals.  There are numerous 'Flashes', which were brine pits where the Romans originally extracted salt, or may be caused by subsidence as salt was mined from underneath.  We passed Budworth Mere, which can be seen over the hedges after we passed through Comberbatch, and the Salt Mine workings and buildings can be seen as we approached our lunchstop.

Ollerton Road Flash, with swan and
Great Crested Grebe (honest);
Salt Works behind.

Lion Salt Works and boat
on Trent & Mersey Canal

The Salt Barge name is a giveaway - placed next to the Trent and Mersey Canal (the one at the top of the Anderton Boat Lift, less than 2 miles away as the crow flies) and a large Salt Mine - The Lion Salt Works.  This apparently has been open for about two years - you can see pictures of the restoration through 2014 here.

After lunch, we were treated to some quiet off road sunshine, we passed
between the Ashton and Neumann Flashes, recently 'reclaimed' and unusual as the salt allows 'seaside' plants to thrive; and on to skirt Marbury country park, where we were treated to bluebell woods.

Passing Ashton & Neumann's Flashes

Trent & Mersey Canal

Bluebell woods near Anderton Nature Park

Fields of rape in full bloom

The sunshine continued as we navigated the lanes, returning to Acton Bridge, where we followed the Dutton Towpath.

View as we dropped down to the Weaver - Acton Bridge
can be seen to the right

Dutton Towpath (with headwind!)

I am very fond of this picturesque route, as it develops from a peaceful towpath, to the set of locks (flood defence system) and black and white bridges (including the horse bridge we crossed), and eventually a dramatic viaduct - all 22 arches!

Horse Bridge

As we ended our travels along the Weaver, I said to the group to watch out for the monkeys in the monkey puzzle tree, as I knew I would be (again) off the back as the road tilts up.  Did they?  No.

So it was a jolly good job I stopped to take a quick picture of what looks like the newest edition to the tree.

Here end my photos.  As we climbed back over the sandstone ridge, the weather started to deteriorate again, and climbing Waterloo Lane I stopped to put my raincoat on, and saw misty grey clouds below and around us.  By the time we passed Manley Mere for the second time today, we were in the midst of a deluge, coupled with the strong head wind we had fought since lunch.  Ergo, no pics!

A very pleasant day despite the rain, with ups and downs, and 54 miles.

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