I know, I know… the River Weaver is a wonderful, picturesque river, slow, wide, banked by trees and with all mod cons. But I didn’t like it, and let me tell you for why.
It is a claustrophobic environment.
Yes, out there, covered head to toe in the new “wellness” of “life being better by water”, with wide open vistas and many and varied wildlife sufficient to clog up my underwear vents; I get claustrophobia.
Because unlike most (but by no means all) of the canals hereabouts (Shropshire Union, Middlewich, Trent & Mersey, Staffordshire & Worcestershire etcetera etecetera and a third “King of Siam” etcetera) there are very limited places where it is physically possible to moor. The rules of the canal company rest fore-square upon many of the places where it is possible to moor (the first pontoon that I oiked myself upon, for example, is limited to “One Day”). There is generally already a boat moored fore-square upon the rest.
Bucolic views are all well and good but I need places to moor and, being me, I like to know in advance that I am not going to be cruising through the night because everywhere (in this holiday season) is full.
The locks, just four of them on the twenty-mile length of the canal with one seriously out of action – are all sufficiently hairy of operation to need to be staffed and operated only by CaRT workers who are naturally desirous of being notified ahead of one’s arrival by radio or – more likely – by mobile telephonium.
I don’t do liaising with people, and I most certainly don’t willingly do mobile telephone calls of any variety, and especially so while mid-river. Not going to happen. Nope. Give me a nice canal lock at dawn where I can oik up, work it all myself and be on my way without having to chat to someone first on that seeping pustule upon human society’s bum; the mobile telephone.
The river itself is delicious. I have no problem at all with the river being a river, if you understand me. The Cardinal got his bottom wet in some nice, slightly salty, unusually deep compared to canals and gently flowing new-to-me water. Being able to turn the boat almost anywhere was pure luxury. I shared a mooring with a friendly heron, was mooned at by a squirrel and was able to enjoy the sight of boats pootling up and down left, right and centre. The Weaver is, by almost everyone’s measure, a wonderful place.
Large tracts of scenic Scotland have the same effect upon me; claustrophobia (in wide open expanses)! Yes, you can – and I have, many times – cruise along roads enjoying moors and mountains. I see the view, but I also am very conscious that the road is the entirety of the space available to me – everything else is privately owned (pension funds and twillionaires, usually foreign), is fenced off and is wholly off-limits. My actual, real-life pattern of movement is uber-restricted, whatever the view may be or suggest. That’s genuine reality.
Ditto the River Weaver.
Even the pathways are limited and sanitised. There’s no official “towpath” since it’s a river and not a canal, and what path there is winds away from the river and/or takes you into town (Northwich) where everything is fences, barriers and very urban no-go areas.
So there you have it.
Can’t help it, it’s just me and the way I think. Always have, always will. Not about to change now.
Take your boat up and down the River Weaver, you’ll love it. To the workings of my particular thinking-gland though, it was nought but confining.
The Anderton Boat Lift? Loved that! I’d do that again in a heartbeat – will in fact do it again, but I’ll be booking my passage back up for the same day as my descent.
People and telephones, people scrabbling for physically limited moorings, no facility to walk up and down in the evening or at dawn to scope out what’s what and what’s coming ahead, canal company (I refer here to the institution, not to the incredibly nice and helpful, hard-working grunt-level workforce) time restrictions abounding (well, it’s busy in summer – and it’s raining so hard that it must be summer in England).
Nope, not for me.
The lead photo (topmost on the page) is of the Cardinal and I back on the holding moorings, awaiting our turn to kiss g’bye to the TATA chemcial factory – and even that is gloriously floodlit at night – and to turn sharp right onto the lift.
The Cardinal is back on the Trent & Mersey canal.
Laugh at me all you like, I’m sure that some (many) will, but I know that the world is an oblate spheroid whirling in the (similarly largely inaccessible) vast “space” of deep space.
Chin-chin for the mo, folks.