Offering Cruises along The River Weaver - Here is an introduction to what you will see on a picturesque cruise along The River Weaver (depending on the route you select)
ANDERTON BOAT LIFT is also known as The Cathedral of the canals this magnificent structure was built in 1875 to elevate narrow boats laiden with cargo 50ft between the River Weaver and The Trent & Mersey Canal.
The lift was designed by the River Weaver trustees chief engineer Edward Leader Williams with Edwin Clark as the principal designer.
The structure is designated as a scheduled monument and is included in the National Heritage list for England. Today it is an award-winning visitor destination offering leisure boaters a link between the two waterways and an informative visitor centre, café and children’s play area.
Anderton Basin is a reminder of the Weaver’s industrial past when barges and ocean going ships lined the berths loading ad unloading cargo predominantly for the chemical industry. Although the Tatter Chemical Plant is still operational the last commercial cargo ship to use the river was The Saint Keiran back in 1998.
Within 10 minutes of starting the journey from the lift we will pass through Winnington Swing Bridge which is the smallest of the river’s 5 swing bridges and as soo as you pass through the bridge look out in the undergrowth for what looks like an old dry dock but is actually an ice weir built to remove large floating chunks of ice from the river to keep it clear for traffic in the days when the river used to regularly freeze over.
We then pass the berths at the site of the former soda ash plant which has recently been demolished to make way for housing. If you look carefully on the berth you will see the names of some of the old ships that used the berth years ago painted on by their crews.
Shortly after that we leave the industrial landscape behind and pass Barnton Sluice and Weir and head into the idyllic tree lined weaver valley countryside heading towards Barnton.
We eventually arrive at Saltersford Locks the current locks date from around 1874 and the original lock chamber can still be seen and is now used as a sluice way for flood control.
Once leaving the lock the old course of the original River Weaver enters the navigation as we head through the countryside towards Acton Bridge.
Shortly riverside cottages and holiday homes will come into view and eventually we pass the Woodbine Caravan Park and the Riverside Inn for many years known as the Rheingold Restaurant before the river forks off around the back of Acton Bridge island.
Inside the island is the home of the Acton Bridge cruising club and the original stone bridge which carried the A49 over the Weaver is still in use by the club on one side while we pass between the stone abutments which carry the original swing bridge over the navigation.
We then pass through the magnificent Acton Swing Bridge which dates from 1933 and swings on a pontoon on the island. Build at a cost of £52,000 when the bridge swings most of the weight is borne on a floating pontoon on the island on a motor of only 4 horse power is required to swing the bridge.
At this point at the river The Trent & Mersey canal is only 300 metres away passing through the hamlet of Bartington while Acton Bridge village is around one mile up on Acton Hill.
Our journey continues down the Weaver Valley and after a further mile and a half we reach the idyllic setting of Dutton Locks with its pretty cottages.
Like Saltisford Locks, Dutton Locks were extensively modernised and enlarged around 1874 and the original locks were over a quarter of a mile away from the current position. Worthy of note is the large flood control sluices at Dutton where up to 8 sluice gates can be lifted over 2 metres to deal with any flood water coming down from Northwich.
As soon as we leave Dutton Locks you will notice Dutton Horse Bridge with its unique twin span timber foot bridge dating from 1919 and is a Grade 2 listed structure and is described as ‘an elegant structure in the functional waterways tradition’ and is believed to be the sole remaining laminated greenheart timber bridge in the country.
When passing Dutton Horse Bridge you will not fail to notice the impressive Dutton Viaduct which takes the West Coast Mainline over the river. The viaduct dates from 1836 and costs £54, 000 to build and the engineers were Joseph Locke and George Stephenson build in red sandstone and has 20 arches around 700,000 cubic feet of sandstone was used in its construction.
A quarter of a mile downstream from Dutton Viaduct we pass the hamlet of Pickering’s O’ the Boat this small village is approx. one mile from Kingsley near Frodsham and was the site of the first lock on the River Weaver which dated back to 1759 and was the first attempt to tame the river from the vagaries of the tides which made the river tidal over its full length and navigation to Northwich nearly impossible.
A small caravan park exists at Pickerings along with a dozen houses one of which is the former pub simply named The Boat Inn. We pass between some sandstone works and this was the site of the later Pickerings lock at the time when the River Weaver had 13 locks along its length. While we sail between Dutton Viaduct and Pickerings look out for the winding course of the old river which can still be seen today.
The next 45 mins is spent gently meandering through the Cheshire countryside and passing locally given place names on the river such as Devil’s Gardens and Goulding Point before eventually Frodsham Hill comes into view and we soon afterwards pass the now silted up Frodsham cut which at one time led to the now disused Frodsham Lock.
Shortly after passing Frodsham Cut we pass the site of the former Sutton Level Lock. This twin chamber lock only had a small rise and fall and was eventually taken out of use in the 1950s when a new deep cutting bypassed them altogether and the locks and their approach waterways became a boat graveyard, the last resting place for dozens of redundant carrying craft as canal and river traffic dwindled.
Probably the most famous vessel to be sunk here was the Weaver flat Daresbury dating back to 1772.
The main channel continues to the left whilst the sluice/weir water runs to the right and we continue our journey and soon reach Sutton Weaver Swing Bridge, a slightly smaller version of Acton Bridge dating from 1926 carrying cars to and from the Cheshire market town of Frodsham about one mile away.
We then pass one of our berths we use for departure and embarkation at the bridge while we continue down to Marsh Lock which offers us our last chance to turn the vessel around and head back up the river.
While on passage to Marsh Lock we pass under the impressive M56 viaduct and also we pass the small dock that once belonged to a soap manufacturer and is now home to a weaver motorboat club and shortly afterwards we pass the recently upgraded facilities of Runcorn Rowing Club whose members can often be seen out and about on the river.
The last mile or so can be described on one side as heavy industrial where the site of the impressive and sprawling chemical manufacturing plant at Rock Savage belonging to INEOS while on the other side the River Weaver old line can be seen wining its way towards the Manchester Ship Canal and beyond we see Frodsham Marshes which is a haven for bird life and wild life and beyond that the impressive hills of Frodsham and Helsby and onwards to North Wales.
While turning at Marsh Lock you will notice the MSC beyond. Marsh Lock will drop you down approx. one metre onto the Manchester Ship Canal and eventually at Eastham out into The River Mersey and out and beyond.
PLEASE NOTE COACH PICK UP WILL BE 30 MINS PRIOR TO CRUISE DEPARTURE TIME.
CRUISES STARTING AT SUTTON WEAVER OR ACTON BRIDGE -IMPORTANT INFORMATION: PLEASE NOTE DUE TO NO PUBLIC PARKING AVAILABILITY AT BOTH ACTON BRIDGE AND SUTTON WEAVER, ON CRUISE DAYS WE PROVIDE A PARK & RIDE COACH FROM THE ANDERTON BOAT LIFT CAR PARK (CW9 6FW) TO TAKE YOU TO YOUR STARTING POINT AND BACK TO YOUR CAR AT THE END OF THE CRUISE. THE COACH TRANSFER IS INCLUDED IN YOUR TICKET, BUT THERE IS A PARKING CHARGE OF JUST £3.00 FOR THE DAY FOR YOUR CAR. PLEASE BE AWARE THAT IF YOU CHOSE TO MAKE YOUR OWN ARRANGMENTS TO BE DROPPED OFF AT THE BOAT, YOU WIIL ALSO NEED TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS TO BE COLLECTED AT THE END OF YOUR CRUISE AS OUR COACH WILL ONLY RETURN OUR PASSENGERS TO THE ANDERTON BOAT LIFT CAR PARK. PLEASE ADVISE US ON [email protected] IF YOU WILL NOT BE REQUIRING OUR COACH SO THAT OUR STEWARDS ARE NOT WAITING FOR YOU AT ANDERTON. THANK YOU.
IN CONSIDERATION OF OUR NEIGHBOURS AT ACTON BRIDGE, THE LEIGH ARMS PUB, PLEASE DO NOT PARK IN THEIR CAR PARK AS IT IS A SMALL CAR PARK AND IS FOR THEIR PATRONS ONLY. THANK YOU.
*Acton Bridge Berth = opposite The Leigh Arms pub on Warrington Road
*Sutton Weaver Berth = by the Swing Bridge on the A56