Shropshire Union Canal

13-16 April 2001

At Easter, Lucy and I went on a canal holiday on the Shropshire Union Canal.

A rather wet Stephen waits for the lock to fill as we descend towards Chester.

As we skirt the city walls of Chester, the canal is cut through solid rock, seen to the left below the walls.

Here we pass underneath the Chester ring-road into Northgate staircase locks.

The top lock of the staircase of three is partially under the modern dual carriageway, and is rather gloomy, particularly on this wet day.

Looking back along the canal as it parallels the city walls.

Descending the Northgate staircase

The next morning is much brighter, though very windy. Stephen on our boat for the weekend, Tilstone.

We moored for the night at Tower Wharf. On the right is the mainline of the canal, and on the left the arm that descends to the River Dee. The original Chester Canal to Northwich ascended through the Northgate locks straight up from the Dee, opened in 1775. Twenty years later, the Wirral line of the Ellesmere Canal was built from the River Mersey to here in Chester, and the new arrangement down to the Dee was built. In 1813 the two canal companies merged to form the Ellesmere and Chester Canal, further mergers in 1846 creating the Shropshire Union Canal.

Looking down from the city walls into the rock cutting of the canal.

Lucy looking down from the city walls

Railway architecture abounds as the canal makes its abrupt turn northwards towards Ellesmere Port. Originally the Chester Canal continued to the left down to the Dee through a further two locks (long since abandoned).

Modern housing and offices surrounding the arm leading to the Dee.

The final, padlocked, lock into the River Dee. The concrete bridge is relatively new, having been built to replace an old single-lane swing bridge on the main road.

A rather brighter morning as we ascend the Northgate locks. Parts of the lock sides can be seen as raw rock - these locks really are an impressive creation. They are painfully slow to empty and fill, but it does give plenty of time to admire the hard work that went into their construction.

Northgate Street crosses the very steep rock cutting.

Heading back eastwards, the remains of Beeston Castle come back into view.

Lucy gets ready as we approach another lock in our gentle climb onto the Cheshire plain.

Looking back towards Beeston Iron Lock from Beeston Stone Lock. The former is very unusual, being made of cast iron flanged plates to overcome running sand below it. There were notices warning of bulging sides, and recommending that only one boat uses the lock at a time.

A few ponies brighten up Lucy's evening

Stephen takes it easy as he waits for the lock to fill.

The lock is Tilstone Lock, after which our boat is named.

We bid farewell to our eponymous lock, the last of the holiday, and begin to look forward to October, when we will be spending a week on the canals of Yorkshire.

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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson