A day out… on a canal boat (with dog)

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Our Canal Boat: “Poppy” . © Nemma Wollenfang

To celebrate my 40th this year, I decided to settle into middle-age, and hire a canal boat for the day, with a few friends, and Poppy (my dog) in tow!

The weather at the end of May was perfect! Not too hot!

Tunnel Entrance, Barnton. Along the Trent and Mersey Canal

We collected the boat from Boating Days, Northwich, Chester, and after a short introduction for my friend Sönke (the captain of the day!), we took the short trip south on the Trent and Mersey Canal towards Middlewich, stopping in Marston for a quick visit to the Lion Salt Works museum and lunch at The Salt Barge pub for my guests to learn more about the historic salt mines of Northwich and enjoy the beautiful Cheshire Weaver Valley countryside.

 

 

Along the Trent and Mersey Canal

 

Long Tunnel along the Trent and Mersey Canal

The various tunnels, which we passed through along our journey, provided a source of excitement, and an air of mystery to our travels. The Barnton Tunnel became a highlight, something to look forward to on the return journey. The Barnton Tunnel is a one-way tunnel and passage is not timed so we had to check that there were no boats coming in the opposite direction before entering the tunnel (the canal boat had a light on, so we looked for oncoming lights, and used our horn when entering it – other tunnels we passed through had periods of time when one can enter in from either direction). This tunnel has no towpath, and, in the past, boats used to be transported through by leg power and the horses walked over the top of the hill above.

Our Squeezebox Musician!

Furthermore, we were provided with entertainment in the form of music: a friend brought his squeezebox and our journey was accompanied by his music, and occasional singalongs! (We had quite the audience as we passed by the historic Anderton Boat Lift! (I keep looking at youtube for uploaded videos now!).

We were honoured to count Nemma Wollenfgang  (local published author) amongst our crew, who was pleased to have “crossed a canal boat ride off [her] bucket list!”. For Nemma, the trip provided a day of “tranquil relaxation and inspiration” for her writing during the following weeks. Nemma commented that “I am certain that such a trip – even for just a day – enkindle creativity in authors and artists alike!”.

 

Bridge along the Trent and Mersey Canal

Not only was the canal boat ride a fun activity for a small group of friends, but it was relaxing, very low stress, and gave my friends and I to appreciate the countryside in the area from a different perspective, and really take it all in!

Mother Duck and her Ducklings

Wild fowl were also a big part of our trip. Herons and moor-hens, ducks and ducklings, swans and cygnets. Not to mention the variety of insects, plants and even tiny shoals of fish we saw. For the nature enthusiast, there’s quite the varied palette to enjoy.

Mother Swan and her Cygnets

Poppy had a wonderful time!

Poppy (dog) on Poppy (Canal Boat)

It is also worth noting that Boating Days is also only 5 minutes away from Lewis Carol’s Birthplace in Daresbury. (author of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.) Though only a ground-level brick outline of the original building remains (the parsonage was destroyed by fire over 100 years ago), there is a famous well with a wrought-iron dormouse design. For those with a penchant for history, the site could well be worth a visit at the beginning or end of a trip.

Nemma’s Tip: Behind Boating Days, also lies Davenport Tea Rooms & Shop, a nationally award-winning business which serves some of the best cakes. It’s the perfect place to indulge. Although, for a high tea, booking is essential, and you’d have to be mindful of opening hours to squeeze it into your day accordingly.

 

 

 

 

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