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River Dee in Chester


BrumBargee
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Having walked the Dee Branch today and taken a stroll over to the weir to look at the state of the water gate, it seems things aren't looking up in Chester for the link between the SUC and the river. The water gate is now completely obstructed by a boom (installed by United Utilities?) and full of debris. The branch is equally full of debris, currently obstructed by a (temporary?) CRT barrier to stem water loss from the stretch above. Even worse is the exit on to the River Dee from the lock, as the trees have taken hold to such a degree that it looks like even a narrowboat would struggle to squeeze through the gap.

 

I know in recent times the River Dee has seen very few craft navigating between the river and the SUC, but it seems such a shame to see it going downhill again. Looking at the navigation notes, it looks possible to safely (albeit with the right precautions) navigate out of the SUC and go as far as Connah's Quay going downstream or if you want to brave the weir, explore the non-tidal Dee going upstream (which, incidentally, is a fantastic stretch of water).

 

Does anyone have any local knowledge of this stretch or any up to date information? Last I heard was a feasibility study for a boat lock in the weir had been proposed/conducted but nothing more had come of it since. It would be really interesting to know if any progress is being made because it looks like this is another navigation link that could disappear in the next year or so.

Edited by BrumBargee
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The barrier below the river lock on the Dee Branch is part of the Winter flood defences, so goes in in Autumn and comes out in Spring.

 

I believe the next two locks have had new gates earlier this year - we went through the old ones this Summer and CRT had a cow and padlocked them shut afterwards.  A month later there was an emergency stoppage to replace the gates ...

 

Down by the lift bridge is one of the IWA Silver Propeller locations but boats haven't been using it due to weed and tired locks.  With new gates and hopefully more boats going there it's easier to justify reopening the river lock and clearing the channel.

  • Greenie 1
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You would want to be very confident about the conditions on the tidal bit, certainly past the roodee and the kop it can very quickly become a damp mud slurry rather than a river in the right conditions.

On a positive note, It would be exciting coming back upriver on the bore though.

There used to be a narrowboat moored upstream of the wier opposite the groves for a few years, not sure what happened to that

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Just now, BrumBargee said:

I read the TNC account of doing it in 2004 and was very impressed! I wonder if anyone has managed it in the last 5 years or so?

 

Was there much of a window for the tide?

The view down the lock hasnt changed since I saw it 4 years ago.

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I think until a lock is built to get up to the non tidal bit (and I suspect this plan has stalled) then there is probably not enough reason to go out onto the Dee to justify sorting out the entrance lock.

I believe the flood barrier belongs to the EA and was going to sit next to the lock and be fitted as and when required, however its test fitting was so difficult that they decided to leave it in permanently (against the wishes of CRT??).

 

That little gate in the weir looks really difficult, I doubt any sane boater would risk it, its specialist TNC stuff 😀

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43 minutes ago, dmr said:

I believe the flood barrier belongs to the EA and was going to sit next to the lock and be fitted as and when required, however its test fitting was so difficult that they decided to leave it in permanently

 

No, it's basically big stop planks they crane off the road bridge.  They were altering it in June when we were there.

 

I've seen a couple of stoppage notices for it going in and out which are fairly pointless as the lock above it doesn't work.  I did wonder if CRT have just been pretending the Dee Branch was  open for the last few decades...

 

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7 minutes ago, TheBiscuits said:

 

No, it's basically big stop planks they crane off the road bridge.  They were altering it in June when we were there.

 

I've seen a couple of stoppage notices for it going in and out which are fairly pointless as the lock above it doesn't work.  I did wonder if CRT have just been pretending the Dee Branch was  open for the last few decades...

 

 

Thats probably the same thing, I have not been there for a few years but thought it was a steel gate, or maybe a set of steel "planks" ???

 

Assuming the gate in the weir is not available then there is not really anywhere to go on the Dee so little justification to get the locks working. The "proposed" lock in the weir would be great but I can't see it happening, and from memory, it would be a slightly tricky bit of navigation even with a lock???

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1 hour ago, BrumBargee said:

I read the TNC account of doing it in 2004 and was very impressed! I wonder if anyone has managed it in the last 5 years or so?

 

Was there much of a window for the tide?

When we took Beatty over there was a spring tide, but not big enough to go straight over the weir, so we had to use the gate in the weir. We operated the gate ourselves with a rope which can just be seen in the photograph. We timed it to arrive just before high water so that we still had some margin for getting over. There was little tidal current at that point. As far as I recall, it was reasonably straightforward to manoeuvre the boat into the gate and through, although we only just had sufficient depth. We had plenty of people with ropes and shafts as required. 

We cruised up to just above Farndon Bridge - a beautiful stretch of river. Well worth the effort, although I'm not sure I would do it again (until a lock is built around the weir!).

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12 minutes ago, Cheshire cat said:

There was a plan to build a lock on the far side alongside the pump house in the centre of this shot. I think the feasibility study didn't throw up any insurmountable problems but the desire seems to have evaporated

 

https://goo.gl/maps/VPZPCqcT8xgSAXzr7

The 'pump house' is infact the Chester Weir fish trap for recording and tagging migrating salmon and sea trout!

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