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Escaping Lockdown by Sarah and Gareth Jones

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Escaping Lockdown by Sarah and Gareth Jones

This post is written regarding our 1st paddle since lockdown on May 17th 2020.

Whether we agree with the lockdown easing quite so early (I think we’re jumping the gun) or not I’m going to take advantage of the new rules allowing family members to paddle on sheltered water.

Luckily where we live we have a slow meandering river whose flow is very well controlled; the River Weaver (although some sites warn about dangerous currents when it has rained, so beware). So on the 1st weekend of the eased lockdown restrictions, we set off to kayak a local stretch of river. One we often overlook because it’s not the sea.

Sarah and I headed down to the Acton Bridge get-in. The Leigh Arms has, prior to the lockdown, allowed us to park at the far end of the car park, near a path that leads down to the get on (marked on the map below). We contacted the proprietor of the Leigh Arms when we first moved here and they were happy for us to use the facilities. Out of politeness I always frequent the establishment post paddle if they’re open.

Sunshine Paddle

The paddle itself is a short 6-mile trip. We headed down to Dutton Locks, admired the lack of social interaction available on the river. An interesting point, that we didn’t photo because we run and cycle around here so often it is just background noise, is a rotting boat on river right. This is the sunken boat ‘Chica’. More information on the ‘Chica’ and Dutton Locks can be found on the website belonging to the River Weaver Navigation Society (Dutton Locks). There are portage points to allow you to continue down to Runcorn.

From Dutton Locks, we turned around and paddled back past the get-in and set off to Saltersford Locks.

As you paddle away from Acton Bridge you will see a large pub on the right-hand side (Riverside Inn), which I’ve honestly never been to. After this there is a small caravan park; listed in one of the links below as a possible get-in. Again I’ve never tried it, you do need to contact the owner, prior to a trip, to ask for permission as it is a private site.

Weaving Our Way to Saltersford Locks

Saltersford Locks (the original route is just off to the right hand side)

The river meanders through the Weaver Valley for a few kilometres and until you arrive at Saltersford Locks. This is a good point to portage onto the Trent & Mersey Canal or to portage the locks and continue on the River Weaver into Northwich via the Anderton Boat Lift.

A Sunny Finish

We then turned back and headed, into quite a gusty wind, back to the get-in.

Useful Info

Random Notes

The Original River Weaver (past Weaverham)

For our trip, this was the turning point however it is possible to continue up the original course of the River Weaver. This is a windy river with quite a good flow if there has been any rain in the Peak District or West Cheshire. The river meanders past Owley Wood (near Weaverham) and then on to Winnington. Here the paddle ends at an ugly weir that is a feature of Northwich’s chemical history. I’ve never paddled past the meadow that is upstream of Owley Wood as there is a water processing plant and then a new housing development and lots of roads closing in on the river and, ultimately, a chemical plant!

The Swans

Note the possible existence of a swan nest at the confluence of the original course of the river and the canalised course (Saltersford Locks). A pair of swans nest here and they have a reputation for attacking dogs and kayakers. We once paddled past the nest without seeing it and up to Owley Wood where we were confronted by the other parent, who chased us back to the nest, getting more aggressive with fly by’s and ultimately trying to climb on Sarah’s boat.

The swans’ behaviour is entirely understandable. Just check to see if there is an occupied nest before heading up the original course of the river. Don’t get stuck in between a swan and its nest it can mess up a lovely lazy paddle.

Quick Notes on the Northwich Section

Saltersford Locks is a public get in with portage points. The upstream portage point allows the paddle to continue up to the Anderton Boat Lift, through Northwich to Hunts Locks.

You’ve got to paddle up to (and visit) the Anderton Boat Lift. It’s a really impressive bit of engineering. From here it’s a lovely paddle into Northwich.

It can be a bit sporty as you paddle past the Dane/Weaver confluence if there has been much rain. It looks possible to paddle up the River Dane but this is a very spatey river and gets very shallow as you approach the viaduct.

There are nice grassy banks to picnic or sunbathe just after the Anderton Boat Lift (on the LHS) as well as at Hunts Lock.