Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Scorchio

Three days of cruising down the Trent & Mersey in glorious sunshine. What a change in the weather.
Now we have a new use for the emergency umbrella bought during a rainstorm in Manchester – sheltering the crew from the scorching sun!
This route south is a familiar one to us but there's always the opportunity to spot something new. Like the fact that restoration work has finally started on the Lion Salt Works at Marston with the aid of £8m in Heritage Lottery funding.
The knowledgeable landlord of the Salt Barge pub there filled us in on the history of salt mining in the area. Originally solid salt was extracted with the caverns propped up on pillars of salt left in place then in later years the workings flooded and as the water became salinated the brine was extracted and dried in pans at the likes of Lion to reveal the salt. Only snag was that as the brine was removed, fresh water entered the caverns, absorbed the salt from the pillars and, eventually, the whole lot caved in. Hence the number of water filled 'flashes' and collapsed buildings in the area.
One of the large flashes beside the canal
It's still a big centre for salt extraction but brine is no longer pumped from the caverns so no more collapses. We hope!
Brian enjoying the weather!
Another of the Stardaughters and her boyfriend joined us for the run from Lymm through the salt extracting '-wiches' to Middlewich. With three tunnels, some locks and a look at the Anderton boat lift, they sampled a pretty decent cross section of canalling.
After Middlewich the industrial landscape gradually gives way to agriculture and the whole scene looked splendidly English in the sunshine. Tonight we are moored on the edge of Stoke with just a couple of locks and the Harecastle Tunnel until we reach the city.
An evening stroll brought us into the nearby hamlet of Church Lawton where, much to our surprise we found a huge stately home – Lawton Hall – and its outbuildings all converted into very lavish looking homes in a gated estate. Walking round the edge we also came upon the beautiful Lawton Hall Pool, a sizeable artificial lake created for one of the past generation of Lawtons by damming a small river. Before its conversion the place had, like many old stately homes, slid into disrepair: being a wartime billet, a school, a failed hotel and then damaged by fire.



In the village churchyard we also chanced upon an early 19th century memorial to a Cornishman who died in the area while working for the Trent & Mersey Canal Company and erected in his mmeory by them.
These chance discoveries are what continue to make the canals so enjoyable to travel along.

5 comments:

Julie said...

Following our Maiden Voyage on our self built NB we too decided on an umberella but although good for shade it was because of the b@#%%$ rain :)

Linda said...

It's a nice view and glad to see an umbrella and a cute dog with you. Enjoying with narrowboat is really having fun, adventure etc.

Linda@ river thames narrowboat hire

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