Six miles from Bramble Cuttings to the Lion Salt Works Museum through a TATA chemical factory #narrowboat #boating

…and I do mean through the factory.

As the centurion who turned the lights out on the Roman Empire said ‘All goodus thingsus mustus come to an endus’.

Yes, I speak fluent “Carry On”.

So it was that my time moored at Bramble Cuttings ticked around towards the end of what I judged was intended by the rather woolly “2 Days Max” stipulation. The Cardinal and I moved on. According to the maps we moved six of your Earth miles, but – perdyhaps because of some of the “scenery” that we encountered – it seemed much farther than that.

The cruise-ette began with a rural enough motif, although there are times on the canals when one feels rather like Mr Allnut, trying to find a route through the weeds of the leech-laden Ulanga River in the film The African Queen.

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One does occasionally on the canals feel not some little empathy with Humphers Boggart, towing his boat through the leech-laden reeds of the Ulanga River.

‘… Can you make a torpedo? Well do so Mr Allnut. …’

Sometimes even in Ingerlund the flies can be a bit of a bother. I appear to have been gnawed upon in some six attacks, and from the reaction t’were those ‘orrid over-sized horse-fly things. Serves me a-right for wearing a baggy sweatshirt. Next time I’m through here I’ll get out the talcum powder and wriggle into my rubber one-piece and my bee-herding hat.

This is not by any means the narrowest section, I was a little too busy in those (meeting and manoeuvring past oncoming boats) to take any photographs. Habitats for wildlife and wotnot are all very well, but there are approaching some 50,000 square miles of dry land in England for those, do we really need extensive tracts of overgrowth on the 2,000 miles of canal? Surely the Funkenschneimer’s Knock-Kneed Lesser-Eared Bog-Eyed Semi-Aquatic Reed-Dwelling Big-Willy Newt could compromise and leave us more of the navigation fer yer atchewal boating?

Wozzat you say? It takes munny to clear reeds, and none to not-clear them and to declare instead that they are some sort of deliberate sop to cuddly wuddly endangered wildlife? Oh, I see. Isn’t that sort of thinking a tad cynical*?

*Realistic. I wasn’t born yesterday nor yet the day afore.

The bucolic nature of the canal is soon left behind, replaced by the sort of scenery that commerce and industry find beautiful. It begins gradually with a few dodgy-looking pipe-bridges and rises swifty to a full-blown alien world of sirens, vented steam and warning signs.

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The Arc de… sewage pipe?

Oh look, I said to myself, there are a couple of large factories alongside the canal up ahead…

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Approaching the country of TATA.

Alongside?

Nope!

Let me take you on a little photographic tour, accompany me through a magical industrial wonderland…

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Hmm. This looks… interesting. TATA.
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Many splendid and well cared-for pipes cross the canal, all carrying boiling what? Cyclodogbane? Hexorumpburn? Who knows, I am sure though that the The Authorities have put in place safeguards sufficient unto the purpose.
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Entering the welcome “basin” at TATA chemical works.
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Yes, the angles are all askew on these photos but I wasn’t exactly in my right mind at the time.
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Two enormous, steaming vats of something.
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“Steam” venting (according to the signs). Clouds gathering too.

There are signs at intervals proclaiming ‘No mooring’ and ‘Do not stop’ and – perhaps most comfortingly – ‘If you hear a siren leave immediately’. Nosh it, Sherlock.

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Tis a peculiar feeling when my mental maps of the canals suddenly join up with old road-maps. I’ve been along this stretch of dodgy road many times.

The chemical industry then makes way for the boat-building and boat-flogging industry, with hulls and prospects moored three-abreast, and with wide-beams stacked on narrow.

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Appraoching Wincham Wharf, which was about the second or third place that I looked at boats for sale before the Cardinal bought me.

It’s all very discomnobulatory, and a bit sad.

Imagine if every car and lorry dealership stacked its wares across the public road leaving only three-quarters of a single lane open, and that traffic had to bumble past just hoping that there was nowt coming in t’opposite direction…

We came eventually upon a place known as the Lion Salt Works Museum Thingy and lo, there was a mooring, just, of sorts, free. I oiked us in and tied the planet to us again on rings. The planet was happy to be back.

Lion Salt Works. What it works at is not explained, much in the manner of Baby Oil.

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I have no idea what “Lion Salt” is used for – or even that one could make or extract salt from lions.

This isn’t actually Lion Salt Works, it’s just a tank of some sort that was used to make slug-repellent during the first, second and third great Slug Wars.

So, we’re sort of here for the moment, wondering whether to bother juggling avoidance of anyone attending the “River Festival” on the River Weaver, possibly just waiting for Monday – when the weekend boats will have returned to Middle Earth or Basingstoke or wherever they come from. Such planning-aforethought is, I suspect (and have told my thinking-blancmange gland as much), just an excuse for a spot of LSD (Lengthy Sitting Down).

Up ahead lies [the Anderton service area, a pressing need], the Anderton Boat Lift, the River Weaver, and on the Trent & Mersey (this canal) two or three tunnels to be tried before another volte face and a trip back through Chemicals R Us and the reeds (and leeches) of the Ulanga River. Hecky heck, that’s a while away though, and I may even luck into another vacant mooring at Bramble Cuttings on the way “back”. 😉

For now we’ll limit ourselves to a couple of verses of the Typists’ Union’s favourite hymn (For Those in Peril on the “C”), visit the salt museum, mooch along and scout out the boat lift and generally bumble about, bumblingly.

Chin-chin for the mo.,

Ian H., and Cardinal W.

3 Comments

    1. I have a small but perfectly formed portable NHS on the boat… 😉 Mind you, nothing tackles these ruddy horse-fly bites except time! Lots and lots of time.

      Like

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