Acton Bridge to Preston Brook

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Sixteen walkers met at the Leigh Arms in Acton Bridge and set off north under the bridge along the bank of the River Weaver. Moored here was the steam boat, “Daniel Adamson”. Built in 1903, “The Danny” is the oldest steam passenger vessel in the UK. Canal boats were also seen on the river thanks to the Anderton Boat Lift linking it to the Trent and Mersey Canal, which we’d reach later in the walk. We’ll see the boat lift itself on the next walk. Crossing a bridge over a weir loop, a cormorant could be seen drying its wings on a rock. Shortly we passed the wreck of the “Chica” which once ran cruises on the river, but now lies listing and rusted. A more pleasing sight was Dutton Locks, built in 1874 to avoid the weir, with railway type signals to control entry. We then crossed Dutton Horse Bridge with views of Dutton Viaduct’s twenty arches carrying the West Coast Main Line. Leaving the river, we turned north through Dutton Park with cattle grazing in the fields to our left. At the edge of the park the group split with half walking through woods and half taking a less strenuous route along Lodge Lane. Those who took the Lodge Lane route were treated to a tour of the gardens of Dutton Lodge by the owner. (Thanks for the photos, Bill) The woods route was undulating and muddy in places and we all met up at the Bluebell Cottage Gardens. The gardens (and Lodge Lane Nursery) are run by former BBC Gardener of the Year, Sue Beesley. We had tea and cakes in the cafe here before making our way to the canal towpath to start the canal leg of the walk. This was our first section of the Trent and Mersey Canal and we walked a mile “back” to the end of the Preston Brook Tunnel to reach the beginning of its towpath. At the other end of the tunnel is the Bridgewater Canal but there’s no towpath in the tunnel. Retracing our steps, we passed Dutton Stop Lock with canal boat “Wilma” passing through and continued south as the canal meandered through farmland towards Bartington. Passing under the A49, we went a further half mile before leaving the canal at bridge 207, and taking Willow Green Lane back to Acton Bridge and the Leigh Arms. We’d been lucky with the weather – just one short, light shower – and we were ready for our meal and drinks. Thanks to Anne, Ken and Shirley for organising. Looking forward to the next one!

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