We have just returned from the wonderful day out with family and friends aboard Wrenbury Navigator. Arrived at the boatyard at 08.00 to a warm friendly welcome from the staff who kindly made us all hot drinks - especially thoughtful given the temperature was barely above freezing. Plenty of parking is available at the yard and it was easy to load our gear on board. The boat was very well appointed and spotlessly clean throughout, having ample capacity for our party of four adults & thee children. We chose Middlewich Narrowboats for our dayboat hire because unlike most other day boat firms, they actually use proper full size boats and they will also let you take them through the locks. Although we are experienced boaters, the staff still showed us around the boat to comply with safety regulations. I had booked the trip for my friends 40th birthday, and the staff played 'happy birthday' over the Tannoy at the wharf - most thoughtful! By 08.30 we were on our way and the staff helped us down the first three locks since water levels in the pound are extremely low (lock gates leaking and due imminent repair by CWT). We were lucky to enjoy incredible weather - very cold but sunny and not a breath of wind all day. The radiators soon had the cabin as warm as toast, which kept the ladies and children happy below whilst my mate and I savored the tranquility and beauty of the Trent & Mersey along the Dane Valley at the stern. We were luck enough to see two Kingfishers and plenty of Herons. Although we didn't quite manage to get as far as the Anderton Boat Lift on this occasion (courtesy of a one hour lunch stop), we still had an amazing day. I don't think I've ever seen such spectacular long shadows as those cast across the fields by the trees and warm late afternoon sun. The red skies backdrop is simply stunning at this time of year - winter cruising can be a gamble with the weather, but if it pays off the rewards are unbeatable. Coming back up the Middlewich locks was a bit of a struggle to say the least, due to the state of the leaking gates and extremely low water levels, but Middlewich Narrowboats informed me that CWT are repairing these this winter which will be of great benefit. Managed to get back to the wharf at 16.15 just as the light was fading and were greeted by another very warm welcome from the staff at Middlewich Narrowboats. I highly recommend boating at this time of year - the scenery is at its most fantastic and the canals are empty - we only passed three other boats all day! Great boat, lovely staff, superb section of canal, incredible value for a family day out. Many thanks.
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