Mersey Estuary

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samuri
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Mersey Estuary

Post by samuri »

Hello, this is a bit of a long one but hopefully you'll find it interesting and may be able to help.

First off, I'm not a paddler, I cycle a lot. I have no idea about the rules, laws, safety issues about this, so please go easy on me.

As I say, I'm a cyclist, I set myself lots of challenges, one of which is tile grabbing on veloviewer. If you're not familiar, tile grabbing goes thus: Imagine the world covered in a grid of 1 mile square tiles. Now try and ride/walk/run in as many of them as possible. It's just a challenge, no prizes, there's leaderboards for number of tiles, number of clustered tiles and max square, i..e a big square made up of little squares. My max square is currently 23x23 which may not sound high but that's pretty good generally, That places me 108th in a leaderboard of 169,000. Top guy has a max square of 80x80, but he drives places and then rides, I'm doing all mine from home.

Still with me? Good. So I live in Leigh near Wigan. I've found that my max square, if I want it centred around my house, is now restricted by the Mersey and Ribble Estuaries. I best include a picture here to help understanding.

Image

Red lines are where I've ridden, yellow boxes are the tiles, blue square(s) are my max square.

Right, now here's the issue and I'm hoping is where you can help (or tell me I've no chance)

Image

I want to canoe the Estuary here to allow me to spread my square and clustered tiles across to Cheshire and Wales.

Is this possible?
Is it legal?
Is it dangerous? I appreciate there are some strong tidal currents going on. I've never seen anyone on this stretch of the river, is that because it's pretty grim or it's not allowed.

I don't have a canoe or kayak. I have canoed a number of times when I was younger though and have been through various training sessions. Are there local people who might be willing to take me out? Or guide me? Any advice would be appreciated. I'm just trying to work out how viable this is at this stage, or if it's simply a non-starter.

Many thanks,
jon.

Chris Bolton
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Re: Mersey Estuary

Post by Chris Bolton »

I've paddled the Mersey from Widnes up to Woolston weir in Warrington. I was in a sea kayak but friends were in an open canoe. It needs a spring tide, and there's usually a small bore, which can get exciting over the sandbanks rather than in the channel, but not a problem - flows at 6 to 8kts. But I'm not sure whether you're interested in this - there are two blue boxes a mile different?

Downstream of Widnes you need to watch for ships and their wash and take care the tide doesn't take you into jetties etc - I've paddled from Eastham downstream and round the Wirral; I know others have paddled the bit in between but I don't know the launch/landing spots. It's a potentially serious bit of water because of the speed and the difficulty landing; the banks are typically high walls or mud. I would be happy to take you, in principle, if we can find a date with suitable tides and weather. I'm sending you a PM.

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Re: Mersey Estuary

Post by DaveB »

See JimKrawiecki's book on sea kayak routes in the north of england. It gives a voyage from Crosby up to the Runcorn area. Not a place for a novice without competent leadership as far as I can see. Liverpool Canoe CLub would be worth talking to.

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Re: Mersey Estuary

Post by Tobbolly »

Hmm, I am trying to paddle a canoe from Llangollen to the Lake District and so need to make this crossing, can it be done straight across in a spring tide do you reckon?

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Jim
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Re: Mersey Estuary

Post by Jim »

Tobbolly wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:45 pm
Hmm, I am trying to paddle a canoe from Llangollen to the Lake District and so need to make this crossing, can it be done straight across in a spring tide do you reckon?
It is recognised as a challenging area in sea kayaks, in a canoe it will be 10 times more challenging.

I have never paddled accross the Wirral, but I used to race my kite buggy there. On neap high tides the 'beach' extends about 2km from the shore and doesn't cover at high water, on spring high tides it covers all the way to the shore, giving a 2km wide band of shallow water. Shallow water creates short steep waves which can be difficult to paddle a kayak through, they really like to swamp canoes. Add some fast tide and things could be really tricky.

In relation to your overall route, I know a few experienced sea kayakers who have paddled accross Morecambe Bay to the southern lakes, and they all report the most difficult sea conditions they have ever met (at least one of them is familiar with area around Hilbre), with more than one of them needing to roll at some point. Morecambe bay is an order of magnitude more serious that the Wirral, and I feel that the Wirral is probably too difficult for a canoe, unless you are equipped and prepared to stay several km out from the shore. My understanding is that Morecambe Bay remains wild no matter how far out you go.

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Re: Mersey Estuary

Post by Chris Bolton »

Tobbolly, what's the rest of your route? I agree with Jim about Morecame Bay; even if you get down the Dee and across the Mersey (and I'd want neaps, not springs), Morecambe Bay is a big challenge. You can't just paddle round the coast, as most of the time the tide is out, so you have to go straight across, and it needs years of experience to do that safely, even in a sea kayak.

If I were canoeing from Llangollen to the Lakes, I'd transfer from the Dee to the Shropshire Union canal at Chester (short trolley from Sandy Lane) then Middlewich, Northwich, onto the Trent & Mersey, Runcorn to the Bridgewater. A better variation there might be to leave the canal at Bridge 23 a few miles before Middlewich and trolley down National Cycle Route 5 to the Weaver Navigation, and follow that to Acton Bridge to join the Trent & Mersey.

From Runcorn, follow the Bridgewater into Manchester and back out to Leigh, continue on the Leeds & Liverpool to Rufford, and then take the Rufford Branch down to the Ribble. watching the tides and weather, go down the River Douglas to the Ribble on the ebb, wait for slack/flood, cross the Ribble to the Millennium Link and then follow the Lancaster Canal to Tewitfield. Here you'd need a portage to get round the abandoned locks and the M6, I'm not exactly sure of the portage route. I think you can cross under the M6 a few miles further on, and reach Crooklands. That might count as Lake District. If not, I'd look into whether you can get down Peasey Beck and the River Bela to the Leven Estuary (I've no idea if it's possible) and continue round the coast.

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Re: Mersey Estuary

Post by Tobbolly »

Useful stuff! I’m setting off tomorrow, the plan is to take the Dee to Chester, then the canal, hopping onto the Leeds Liverpool canal from Liverpool to Carnforth, but this damn estuary is in the way. If it’s a struggle for the sea kayakers I don’t fancy my chances in a canoe.

I’m going to look up the route you’ve described 😃

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Re: Mersey Estuary

Post by Tobbolly »

Yep it’s looking like if we can’t go through it, we’ll have to go around it. Trent & Mersey it is ... thank you folks!!

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Jim
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Re: Mersey Estuary

Post by Jim »

Good luck! Hope you manage to links enough canals together!

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Re: Mersey Estuary

Post by Tobbolly »

Thanks! Just found our way onto the Shropshire Union 😃

Xtractif
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Re: Mersey Estuary

Post by Xtractif »

Doing some research on Mersey canoe club
They used to do the Wirral round
From Ellesmere down the canal to Chester down the Dee round Hoylake and back up the Mersey
They were based at Rockferry pier
Apart from a short stretch of Manchester ship canal could you still do this route
I guess you’d have to wait for the flood tide perhaps at Hilbre?

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Re: Mersey Estuary

Post by Chris Bolton »

Doing some research on Mersey canoe club
Have you seen this?

I did the Wirral round in 1987, but in the opposite direction. We started at Eastham, at the end of the Ship Canal. I don't remember any problem getting on the water, but looking at the place now on Google maps I can't see a way. We timed the Mersey section for the ebb, but avoiding the peak flow. When you're approaching the ferry landing stages, you need to be able to back paddle and hold position until it's safe. We didn't fancy going between the stage and the shore and getting caught on the chains. I think we stopped at Hilbre for a break and took the tide up to Flint. We had another break there while we waited for the tide to catch up for the run up to Chester. The portage to the canal is strenuous and muddy. we finished at the Boat Museum. It think it took us about 18 hours, 6am to midnight, but we could have done it faster with the knowledge gained doing it.

Xtractif
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Re: Mersey Estuary

Post by Xtractif »

Thanks Chris
Yes I organised the trip to Hilbre
And arranged the visit to the MCC collection
Is the Wirral round worth the effort?
Did you use sea kayaks?
I’ve done the Hilbre race a few times
No issue if the weather is ok
Not paddled in the Mersey
May be able to stay on Hilbre for the Dee flood
Don’t fancy a midnight paddle

Mike Cottam

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Re: Mersey Estuary

Post by Chris Bolton »

Yes I organised the trip to Hilbre
And arranged the visit to the MCC collection
I thought you might have - too much of a co-incidence!

It was a memorable trip, and probably as worthwhile as any other paddle, but hard work. We did use sea kayaks - I don't think I'd want to use any other type of canoe/kayak. We made the portage at Chester harder by taking emergency camping gear in case we didn't get round - I should have remembered the alpine climbing adage that "if you take bivvi gear, you'll need it". I have actually just found my trip planning notes marked up with actual times! 07:20 to 23:40, 44nm, 2hr break at Hilbre, 40min at Flint, 1hr on the portage. Picking a day with earlier tides and going down the Mersey after the peak of the ebb rather than before might reduce the waits. We did it at midsummer, so there wasn't a lot of paddling in the dark, and it was all on the canal.

Send me a PM if you're going to do it, I might join you.

Xtractif
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Re: Mersey Estuary

Post by Xtractif »

Thank Chris
The MCC used sailing canoes or Rob Roy’s I think
Two of our members sailed to Hilbre
But that entails more gear and the wind only helps part way
I’ll let you know if anyone is interested in the trip

Cheers
Mike

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