This is the continuation of our walk in South Cheshire that started along the Salt Line which I posted about a couple of days ago.
While away last weekend staying in South Cheshire, we went for a walk in the snow Saturday morning that started with a couple of miles along the Salt Line. Our plan was to complete a circuit returning along the Trent & Mersey Canal but to reach the canal we had to walk along footpaths over fields in the rapidly thawing snow; a section that I suspected may be difficult with muddy conditions. As it turned out, the thaw was proceeding slowly enough that we had little difficulty.
The path took us up the drive to this house which had a great garden pond just inside the gates. I have often found that where public rights of way cross over peoples gardens or land surrounding houses, the owners can sometimes be a little shirty. apparently resenting the fact that they must let people walk over their plot. When when we missed the path and walked into the back garden of this place, and then saw the owner striding towards us, I braced myself for a bit of a “confrontation”. I was completely wrong though as he turned out to be a very pleasant chap who helpfully pointed out the style in the hedge that we had walked by unknowingly. It’s nice to be pleasantly surprised by people.
The weather was warm(ish) and sunny with one of those rich blue skies that you only seem to get in winter. The path though, was still relatively good under foot as we walked over the fields past donkeys and flooded areas and then over the stream by a substantial bridge and up to the canal..
The water in the canal was a rich muddy brown, more like gravy than any canal water I have seen before. I have no idea why it was the colour it was and on the couple of miles we walked along it, we saw nothing that gave even a hint as to the reason; it will remain a mystery.
There were still a few sections, mostly on sheltered bends, with an ice crust still in place. But despite the muddy condition, there was enough still water for me to indulge my favourite pastime of photographing reflections.
And as we crossed over a road on an aqueduct, I just had to stop to take a shot of the traffic below us. Sad I know but I still find it amazing that I can stand on the banks of a waterway with cars under my feet.
Some of the canal boats we passed on the side opposite the towpath looked deserted, as if they were long-term moored there. How the owners got to and from was beyond me as the locations were often quite some way from the nearest road. One boat in particular had obviously been there for at least eight months as later, while looking around the market in Sandbach, I stopped to look at some photographs for sale and spotted the same boat under the same hawthorn tree but it was in full leaf and full of may blossom. When I mentioned to the photographer that I had taken the same shot that morning, he replied “so the boat is still there; I’m not surprised.”
We stopped a little further on to spend some time with a young pony that had the most amazing blue eyes. At first it was a bit standoffish but after Julie bribed it with a few handfuls of grass, it came close and allowed me to get a close up shot. In fact it became a bit too friendly and started sniffing at my camera lens; far too close to focus.
Lock 57 had a shop and a small restaurant but they were both closed. The map showed a pub in the hamlet nearby however, and buoyed up by the prospect of a cuppa, we set off in search. When we found it unfortunately, it was obviously a victim of the change in habits of the British people over the last decade or so. With far fewer people going to their “local”, pubs are closing at an alarming rate and country pubs seem hardest hit.
I was fascinated by the spillway at the side of the lock and spent a minute studying it. There must be a reason for the complicated layout but it escaped me.
Not much further on we passed under the M6 and left the canal to cross the few hundred metres to the car park. The house at the roadside there had four geese in the paddock at the side that seemed as interested in me as I was in them and I leant over the fence to take a photo. They were completely silent which is unusual for geese which generally kick up a bit of a racket when they see a stranger “invading” their space. They were good models too, keeping still long enough for me to get the shot but periodically moving position and adopting new poses. Very obliging.