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River Weaver Navigation, Cheshire, UK
We take a look back at our cruise on the River Weaver Navigation in 2007.
There is not currently an obvious attractive "destination point" for recreational boaters heading up or down the Weaver Navigation, although Weston Marsh Lock and the Weston Point Docks are of interest to those who like industrial heritage.
The River Weaver is a river, slightly more than 50 miles (80 km) long, navigable in its lower reaches and tidal for around 7 miles (11 km) to Pickering's wharf running in a curving route anti-clockwise across western Cheshire, northern England, UK.
The Navigation is managed by British Waterways, as far as Winsford Bridge an extent of just 20 miles (32 km). Beyond this are Winsford Bottom Flash and Winsford Top Flash. Both are shallow lakes, resulting from subsidence in the underlying salt mines. It is possible for some canal boats to explore the Bottom Flash, but we were recommended to steer clear as the depth of water is limited, and great care is needed not to run aground. The Flash is used for yacht racing by the Winsford Flash Sailing Club, which is based on the 90-acre (36 ha) lake. Most if not all hire boat companies will not allow their boats onto the Weaver!
The source location is near Peckforton Castle and initially flows in a south-easterly direction towards the border with Shropshire, fed by tributaries some of which rise in north Shropshire. The mouth location is at Weston Point Docks, Runcorn, Cheshire. The River Weaver previously flowed into the River Mersey but since the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal, begun in 1887, it has flowed into the canal.
In 1720 the first Act of Parliament to authorise improvements to the river was obtained by three gentlemen of Cheshire; only Richard Vernon of the original three undertakers was actively engaged on the project that was completed in May 1777. The Act was dated 23 March 1720 and authorised work between Frodsham bridge and Winsford bridge. Rates for tolls were set, which were to be reduced by 20 per cent once the cost of construction had been met, and profits were then to be used to maintain bridges and highways within Cheshire.
Perhaps its most notable feature is the Anderton Boat Lift, built in 1875 and recently renovated and reopened, near Northwich, which links the Weaver with the Trent and Mersey Canal some 50 feet, or about 15 meters above. This is where we started our cruise.
We will say at this point that due to flood conditions we were only able to cruise the upstream section. We will return at a later date to cruise the lower section.
Without the Anderton Boat Lift the Weaver Navigation would be all but isolated from the main canal system for narrowboats and river cruisers.
The cruise upstream between the Anderton Boat Lift and Northwich is a pleasant trip, with the elevated open spaces of the Anderton Nature Park on one bank and brief glimpses of industrial landscape on the other. You will soon notice the array of larger vessels moored and travelling along the river.
At Northwich, where the River Dane joins the Weaver, you will see a couple of swing bridges across the Weaver that were amongst the first, if not the first to be subject to electrification. We thought that the black and white Town Bridge was the most impressive. There is an unusual floating hotel and a small but busy marina. There are quite large sea going vessels moored along the navigation here too.
Hunt's Lock is the first lock heading upstream at Northwich after which the navigation heads south west towards Hartford Bridge and Vale Royal Locks overlooked by the towering Vale Royal railway viaduct.
The next section takes you through the Valeroyal Cut and glorious scenery between Vale Royal Locks, close to the ancient Monastery, now a golf course, and the active modern Salt Works on the northern edge of Winsford along the route of the Weaver Valley Parkway walking route.
We winded at the Red Lion public house just before the first road bridge in Winsford (MAP) and moored for the night using the pub wharf for a couple of bed-time beverages.
Rowing is popular on the River Weaver, with competitive clubs in Runcorn, Northwich, and Acton Bridge (The Grange School). Fishing is also popular along the river especially at Weaver Parkway where it runs adjacent to the West Coast Main Line - the railway line from Crewe to Liverpool and Preston.
Sailing is also popular on the lower reaches of the Weaver at Frodsham from the Weaver Sailing club. This club caters for all dinghy sailboats with racing on most Sundays.
Due to heavy rain we were prevented from returning through Northwich for 3 days until the River Dane confluence became navigable. We eventually returned to the Anderton Boat Lift and rejoined the Trent and Mersey as more rain was expected and the Weaver was not going to be very welcoming downstream of this point for some time.
The society was founded in 1997 and is dedicated to preserving, protecting
and improving the River Weaver, from Winsford to its confluence with the Manchester
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