GUIDE TO THE RIVER WEAVER/ WEAVER NAVIGATION
NAME OF RIVER: Weaver / Weaver Navigation
WHERE IS IT?: Runs from Winsford Bottom Flash to Manchester Ship Canal at Runcorn, North Cheshire. Map.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Many along the river direct from roadway. Main access at Winsford at A54 R/about over river, Northwich - Hunts Lock SJ65548 72874, A49 Acton Bridge at Leigh Arms, Frodsham at A56 bridge or under M56 viaduct accesed via track on west bank from A56.
Pete Roberts, September 2005...'I understand the Weaver Sailing Club (01928 731392, www.weaver-sc.co.uk) has facilities for storing kayaks, as well as a slipway and a very nice new clubhouse!'
Kev Beales (Nov 2006)...'Two new put-ins - Runcorn Rowing Club off the M56 roundabout at Clifton, and Frodsham Water Sports at Frodsham Bridge on A56.'
APPROX LENGTH: Approximately 28 km.
TIME NEEDED: Minimal current 1km/h so at 6km/h = 5 hours for full length.
ACCESS HASSLES: Managed by British Waterways, so free access for BCU members. 3 for a day license from www.waterscape.co.uk.
Pete Roberts, September 2005...'The stretch of the Weaver between the its junction with the Manchester Ship Canal(SJ 504 797) and Sutton Weir (SJ 538 786), does not come under the jurisdiction of British Waterways. Although not tidal as such, it is effectively an estuary: there are full statutory public navigation rights and no licence is needed to paddle it. The top of the river defences is also a public footpath. Trust me - I've been swimming there for 30 years!!'
Kev Beales (Nov 2006)...'People at the Rowing Club are very obliging in letting canoes launch off their embankment into the Weaver canal. Plenty of parking space. Runcorn Canoe club here as well. The owner of Frodsham Water Sports is a nice bloke who lets you use the slipway and wooden jetty. Got some nice stuff in his shop too. There is parking space here but it's best to ask if it's OK. Public footpath along the River but you may have to carry your boat over the kissing gate.'
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Lock-ed river.
GRADING: (almost) Still water.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Pete Roberts, September 2005...'Powerboats and jetskis on the upper stretch between Frodsham Bridge and Sutton Weir. Weaver Sailing Club also has a waterski course on the lower stretch by the motorway viaduct, but I have always found their people courteous and considerate. Water is brackish, so there's little or no risk of Weil's Disease - the bacterium responsible can't live in saltwater. Don't be put off by the murky appearence - apparently the Weaver meets EU bathing water standards and I've never suffered any illness after swimming in it (and swallowing quite a lot of it!). It is usually quite warm: 20 to 25C during a typical summer.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: An easy paddle through (mostly) pleasant countryside. Industrial works for first and last three miles at Runcorn and Winsford. Several pubs en route at Acton Bridge, Frodsham, Barnton Northwich, Winsford and Moulton of which the Leigh Arms? at Acton Bridge is by far the best.
Well fished but wide so it shouldn't be a problem avoiding conflict.
There are 4 locks on the navigation, all of which can be bypassed via the original course of the river although portage is still needed around sluices. These unused sections are rich in wildlife and worth a detour.
Anderton boat lift at SJ64733 75344 is spectacular, connecting river with canal (canoes not allowed unfortunately). The best 15K of river is Salterton Locks Nr Barnton to Frodsham. There is a good path the full length of this section allowing a walk back for cars if desired. Detours up the River Dane and Wincham Brook at Northwich may be possible but I have not tried them.
OTHER NOTES: For variety, sections of the Trent and Mersey canal can be used to form a round trip - beware the 300m tunnel at Barnton which canoes are not supposed to use - but who's to tell?.
Andy Scott adds - 'I paddled the Weaver yesterday (4 October 2010) 2 up in an open boat, in the heavy rain. Access near the Leigh Arms at Acton Bridge was possible at the nearby school rowing club with their kind permission (the pub was staging a steam engine rally!). The portage at Salterford Locks was OK and involved a 150m portage on the north bank to find a section of bank low enough to get in (there is a marked portage point but no pontoon to make this easy and it's easy to miss).
We paddled up to the Anderton Boat Lift and beyond to the confluence with Witton Brook (SJ749655). This looks inviting and reed fringed and natural - but actually stank of sewage and the water was very coloured so we retreated.
The present description says that portage of the two weirs is possible and this was our plan - with all the rain the old river course was tonking along nicely and was an inviting prospect for the return leg. In fact portaging the weirs is impossible. With its 2-3m vertical banks, this must be one of the most paddle unfriendly rivers in the area.
The weir near Anderton (SJ749644) borders the chemical works and is not shootable (at least in an open boat). The left side takes you under the outfall pipes from the works, the right side has a huge sluice. The banks are also difficult at the lower weir (SJ636743) and the problem here is the overgrown steep bank on the river side. Again, the weir and sluice are impassable.
It's very frustrating - so near yet so far. With it's mix of natural and industrial, and apparent options to choose canalised and original river sections, the Weaver is an interesting river but access is a real challenge.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Andy Trowler, also Pete Roberts, Kev Beales and Andy Scott.