Swings and Roundabouts

We drove through Manchester today; it was raining – but I repeat myself.  To be fair, it was only the edge of Manchester, and it was only the edge of raining.  We left Lymm promptly after breakfast.  The Bridgewater Canal is wide and well-dredged so it was easy to make good time (the speed limit is 4mph).  Even where there were moored boats, we didn’t generally need to slow down much as our passage hardly disturbed them.  We stopped in Sale for a shopping trip.  I’d spotted a bike shop with excellent reviews and hoped to get some new gloves for both cycling and helming (typical August purchase).  Unfortunately for me her reviews must have got even better – the sign said the shop was shut for wedding and honeymoon.

Soon after, we reached a significant turning point.  At Waters Meeting we at last returned to our original route.  The size of the detour is clearly visible on the Where is Bartimaeus page.

Waters Meeting Junction
Waters Meeting Junction – Back On Track

Not only was there no fanfare, there wasn’t even a sign to tell us which way to go.

This branch does have some interesting canal architecture.  The chief amongst them is the Barton Swing Aqueduct.  A massive structure that takes the Bridgewater Canal over the much larger Manchester Ship Canal.  From the aqueduct it is hard to see much of the structure, but the nearby Barton Road Swing Bridge is a similar construction minus 800 tonnes of water.  Both canal and road swing out of the way of the Ship Canal when required.  They are both operated from the brick control tower.

Barton Aqueduct Control Tower and Barton Road Swing Bridge
Barton Aqueduct Control Tower and Barton Road Swing Bridge

By early afternoon we had got far enough to relax about our distance for the day, but we decided to press on.  We passed some interesting canal side houses and artwork.

Canal Side House
Canal Side House
Artwork Lock Gates on the Towpath
UNLOCK – Lock Gates as Artwork

Although we did no locks today, we were caught out by the only swing-bridge we needed to operate.  It is on a commuter cut-through, so priority is given to road traffic in the “rush hour”.  We were not allowed to operate the bridge between 4.30 and 6.00.  We arrived at 5.10 and so had to wait for nearly an hour to close the road for under two minutes.

By the end of today we are a day ahead of my revised schedule.  We have locks to do in the coming days, but the time pressure is now much reduced.  Today we did three sides of a rectangle – in the last week we have done two and a half sides of a much larger triangle.  The next few days also involve a dog leg, but at least we are now generally heading in the right direction.