As you head through Nantwich on The Shropshire Union Canal, heading towards Chester, after a couple of miles you will come to its junction with The Llangollen Canal at Hurleston. From this direction you enter the Hurleston Flight on your left. Hurleston Locks are notorious in that they have suffered from slight subsidence, which has caused the lock walls to bulge slightly. The consequence of this is that any craft wider than the standard 6' 10" beam, may get wedged in the chamber. As you enter the first lock, there are warnings that all fenders should be raised. The problem affects mainly historical boats whose girth may have spread with age, but there are also some newer craft that come to grief as their builders went slightly off spec. when they were under construction. Due to potential problems, Hurlston Locks have a daily lock keeper on duty who will offer advice on the best and safest way to get through.
Once through the locks, there is a cruise of a couple of miles before reaching the next lock, Swanley No.2.
Swanley No.2 Lock, Swanley Marina in the distance
You now have a journey of about 4 hours ahead of you to reach Wrenbury. The duration of this depends on how busy the canal is, summer being the busiest, with queues of two or three boats usually at most locks. Spring and Autumn though are quiet, as it was this weekend. The journey to Wrenbury from Hurleston Junction includes 4 locks in the Hurleston flight, 2 at Swanley, 3 at Baddiley, one manually operated lift bridge at Wrenbury, and finally Wrenbury Mill Bridge, which is electro-hydraulically operated by yourself. You will need a BW key to operate the controls, and also close the barrier to road traffic crossing the bridge, all good fun! One thing to remember at the Wrenbury Mill bridge, is that BW advises no more than 3 boats to pass through at a time, as motorists tend to get a little impatient. Once in Wrenbury, there are excellent 48 hour moorings, some right outside The Dusty Miller restaurant and bar, (which is currently being refurbished over a 5 week period). In a previous life this was a canalside warehouse used to store local perishable produce before being transferred onto fly boats to Manchester.
The Dusty Miller to the right of the lift bridge. Alvechurch Boat Centre is just through the bridge on the left. There is a hire fleet based here, and also chandlery, diesel and pump out facilities. The photo is taken from the start of 48hr moorings at this side of the bridge, there are several hundred yards of further moorings past the bridge. Again, it gets busy in summer.
Known locally as Wrenbury Town bridge, this is hydraulically operated using a standard windlass. A path to the right leads to a short walk through the church yard to the village store. This bridge is normally left down, as it is here.
Wrenbury Village Store and Post Office.
Wrenbury is well worth an overnight stay, with perhaps a meal in The Dusty Miller, or if you prefer, The Cotton Arms just across the road does excellent, less formal meals with real hand drawn ales to accompany it.
The Cotton Arms, just down the lane from the Dusty Miller.
After your stay, you can either head off towards Llangollen, or if you prefer to return, there is a good winding hole just after bridge 22 just up the canal about 1/2 a mile. Here are some more photos of Wrenbury Village
Known locally as "The Doctor's House"
There are ancient gravestones in the church yard that have a story to tell.
The village green.
Cholmondeley is pronounced "Chummley"
Well, that was Wrenbury, our favourite weekend cruise destination. It is well worth a stopover. Don't let Hurlston Flight put you off, Linda the Lockie is expert at getting you through!