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Monday, 15 September 2014

The salt of the earth, a big lift and a bigger coincidence

Day 11 Monday 15th Sept

We had decided not to leave too early from Wigan to let the traffic ease off. So we had a relaxed breakfast before leaving at 9:30 with a light spray of rain in sunshine. We took a main road route out, heading south on A573. Our plan seemed to work as it was never too busy, so we made good progress through town after town, only really passing through proper countryside once (the sound of birds singing was notable here) before reaching Warrington. Here we went for a bit of Garmin navigation, so headed on a route that zigzagged through the centre and out, crossing the Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal n the process. 

The Manchester Ship Canal

Then we finally got off the main roads and were soon wending our way through the Cheshire countryside; agricultural with scattered dispersed villages. We quickly came to the Anderton Lift; this is a Victorian structure designed to move canal boats from the higher Trent and Mersey canal down to the Weaver Navigation, now restored to full operation. I had had the privilege of using this on a canal holiday a couple of years ago with family, but for the two Johns it was their first sighting. 

The Anderton Boat Lift, built in 1875

The team at the Anderton Lift - using some tricks from Lord of the Rings

Then onwards through Cheshire. At one point we went past huge piles of salt, presumably from one of the mines in the area. Otherwise it was steady progress through pleasant countryside. Bumping into Paul and Isobel Langton (see more below from John H) was an amazing coincidence.

The team negotiate a section of NCR 5 

We passed through Northwich, Nantwich,  Whitchurch and Wem, then headed on main roads due south towards Shrewsbury.  For most of the day we cycled in patchy sunshine, intense enough that we took advantage of the shade of a Millenium Oak when we stopped for lunch. But an ominous black cloud seemed to chase us for much of the afternoon and we were briefly scattered with heavy rain drops. But in the end we came into Shrewsbury dry. The town looked fascinating with it's red sandstone castle and wooden beamed houses, but it was late and we were keen to arrive before needing lights, so we pressed through to the southern side, where our Travelodge awaited.

A bit short and dry today, but it was a day of making progress. Day 12 looks like being a tough one, and we will be following much of the original LEJOG route. Ross on Wye is the target for the day, a deviation from the original plan as we are to be picked up by John H's wife to spend the night in his house. It will be a relief to do a big wash before our laundry composts in the panniers.

Evening sun breaks through the black clouds which had followed us all day

Anecdote of the day
From John H: In North Shropshire we turned a corner of a remote lane and were greeted by two horse riders. Surprise! It was Paul and Isobel Langton! We were all amazed by the coincidence. Paul and Isobel kindly accommodated us for a leg of the 2004 LEJOG ride, as well as some other occasions since. By another coincidence John H had tried to txt Paul a couple of days ago but had found his mobile number had changed and his old number was now used by somebody else (a complete stranger) who returned the txt by wishing us all the best for the ride! We worked out that if we had been 1 or 2 minutes earlier on the road we would have missed Paul and Isobel entirely.

Bumped into Paul & Isobel (almost literally) when they were out for a ride,
totally unplanned

Quote of the day
John H on arrival at Shrewsbury "I'm a lot better on three bananas"

Taday's stats
Distance 78 miles
Average speed 12.2 (max 30.9)
Climb 936 m
Energy 3831 cals

Favourite bits
JC: finally finding an open WC in Wem at the third increasingly desperate attempt ..... Eating enough to fuel 3831 cals - we'll leave the rest to you ...
JH: Anderton lift, a fantastic example of Victorian ingenuity - real engineering
JR: revisiting several of the canals that I've been on over the last few years

JC 3
JH 3
JR 2


  1. Well done, lads. It's a good read and great to see you enjoying it.

  2. Amazing day guys, like the change from Industrial Heritage to meeting friends, all part of a journey! You like happy! That's great. Few flat days now.

    1. "Few flat days now."
      Not when the route has been planned by JR ....... :-)

  3. composting panniers is a worrying development!!

    Anderton Boat Loft - yaay!!

    Love the serendipity of the meeting..