Our final morning in lovely Cheshire but still no signs of any sunshine. We started the day with another visit to Northwich as on the previous day we had focussed on its key attractions rather than the town itself. The town welcomes motorists as the first car park we came across right in the centre charged only 50p for up to four hours.
Along pedestrianised Witton Street there are some fine examples of Tudor architecture. I particularly liked the charming Brunner public library which had lots of character and a plaque informed us that it was opened in 1885 by the Duke of Westminster.
More historic buildings, now mostly occupied by banks and shops give the town its sense of character dating back to the time when it was the ‘salt capital of the world’ at the height of mining and extraction.
Northwich has a modern marina on the banks of the River Weaver located between two swing bridges and next to a Waitrose supermarket which was part of the original development.
After stopping for a coffee, we returned to the car and made our way to Middlewich, five miles to the south east. This small town has not one but three canals passing through the town, the Shropshire Union, the Trent & Mersey and the Wardle. I had never heard of the Wardle canal and it’s not surprising as it’s only 30 metres long! It’s actually the shortest canal in the UK as it just forms a link between the Trent & Mersey and Shropshire Union canals.
We sauntered through the town centre with its narrow streets and small shops. There was little sign of life on a Friday lunchtime but a few shops interested us so we popped in to have a look and bought a couple of things to take home.
The main reason for visiting Middlewich was to take a stroll by the canal and fortunately for us, it actually managed to stop raining. It was just a short walk across the busy main road down to the canal towpath where we found several brightly coloured narrowboats moored along the canal bank and as we approached the lock we watched another boat entering the lock gates. I always enjoy viewing boats passing through locks and being able to peer down when a boat is on its way up.
In case you may be unfamiliar with locks on canals I’ll try and explain how they work. A canal lock is a chamber with gates at each end and by emptying or filling the chamber with water, the boat is able to move up or down onto a new section of canal.
When the lock gates are closed the boat handler opens the sluices (paddles) to let the water in or out. When the water level is the same as the level the boat is moving to it can then leave the lock.
We were unaware that this section of the canal collapsed in March 2018, washing away the canal bank and rapidly emptying the canal. It cost a massive £3 million and 4,000 tonnes of stone to rebuild taking six months. Once the work was completed the stretch of canal officially reopened to boat traffic just before Christmas 2018.
After enjoying our canal side walk we returned to our car and continued on to Little Moreton Hall, a National Trust property near Congleton. Standard adult admission to the property is £11.30 but as we are N.T. members we are able to visit as many properties as we wish throughout the year for an annual subscription. It’s very good value and even if you only visit a handful of properties I’m certain you will at least break even.
It was our first visit to Little Moreton Hall, a moated half timbered manor house. The iconic black and white Tudor property has an uneven appearance and has defied logic for over 500 years to remain standing.
When we climbed up to the third storey glazed long gallery one of the room volunteers explained that this floor had most probably been added at a late stage of construction causing the lower floors to bow and warp, creating an higgledy-piggledy effect.
Wandering around the house was very interesting and as we passed through the kitchen we enjoyed watching a member of staff dressed in a Tudor costume demonstrating old fashioned methods of churning butter and cheese making.
The sun even managed to put in an appearance so we took an opportunity to stroll through the grounds and the formal Knot garden before enjoying a pot of tea in The Little Tea Room.
This was to be our final activity of our short break in Cheshire which, with the exception of the weather had been perfect. From our gorgeous accommodation at Cheshire Boutique Barns to the attractive small towns and top attractions we’d had an opportunity to visit, we’d enjoyed it all. I would like to thank Visit Cheshire and Cheshire Boutique Barns for helping to make this visit possible. As always, all views and opinions are entirely my own.
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