It was a beautiful sunny morning here today in Cheshire and I wanted to find somewhere near by for us to explore for a few hours. The Anderton Boat Lift is only a 10 minute drive from Northwich. I have been once before when E was little and was not too impressed but i thought it was about time I gave it another chance and I am so glad that I did. It turns out that I missed 90% of the place on my last visit.
The boat lift dates back to 1875 and was designed to lift boats up the 50 foot height difference between the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal. It’s still fully working today. The visitors centre and viewing areas are free to visit which is a real plus. There is a parking charge which is £2 for up to 3 hours and £3 for over 3 hours.
As it was mid morning we headed straight for the visitors centre and cafe. They offer a good selection of hot / cold drinks and cakes. They also offer a small lunch menu with panini’s, jacket potatoes and soups. E and I shared coffee / apple juice and a cake which was lovely. The cafe looks out over the boat lift so you can enjoy the views whilst eating.
Tummies full of cake we headed out to explore. Downstairs in the visitors centre is a museum / information room, with a lovely little area for children to colour in pictures, dress up as Victorian engineers and they even have interactive boat lift models that E could operate. I say could, as E showed no interest in any of this (despite me over enthusiastically trying to get him excited about it all). In fact whilst I was trying on a rather elaborate hat to try to get him interested, he decided to leg it out the door – typical. I know, E’s cousin M would have loved this area and would have spent ages with his mum trying on all the different costumes.
Outside there are several viewing platforms from which you can see the boat lift. We actually saw a boat going up and you could see all of the wheels turning at the top of the lift. There is a little play area with a slide (there were signs saying there was an adventure playground opening over the summer which would be great). There is also a small maze that E enjoyed running around. You can go on a boat ride which I believe goes up the river Weaver a short way and then returns and goes up the lift, however you have to pay for this, but it might be something I might do in the future. The whole place is pushchair friendly with toilets and baby-changing on site.
Adjacent to the boat lift is Anderton Nature Park. This forms part of the Northwich Woodlands area which is made up of 9 different parks or areas, each having been reclaimed from largely derelict land. The Anderton park was one of the first areas to be reclaimed and is now a lovely green space which at this time of year is covered in wild flowers and blossom.
The entrance to the park is literally on the other side of the car park to the boat lift. I managed to pick up a map from the boat lift visitors centre and as the sun was shinning I decided to go and have a little explore.
The park was really beautiful in the sunshine. There were flowers everywhere with whole meadows covered in bright yellow cowslips and the hedges full of pretty white hawthorn flowers that smelled amazing. This area of Northwich is quite industrial with the Tata works just across the river weaver, however you would never even know all that industry is near by, the park is so peaceful.
Most of the paths around the park have been designed with easy access in mind so it was easy to take the pram on the walk. It was perfect to allow E to run about and explore. There were sculptures dotted here and there around the walk which E had great fun climbing on. There were lots of picnic tables and benches throughout the park meaning it would be a great place to take a picnic. The park is big and we only did a quick half an hour circuit. There are bigger circular walks to be done which I think we will come back and do at a later point (maybe finish the walk at the boat lift cafe).
I’m so glad we gave Anderton another chance. We had a fantastic few hours here and will definitely be back again soon to explore a bit more.