Spending Time At The Anderton Lift Visitor Centre

Not sure about the weather, the BBC forecast says it’ll be dry until 6:00 p.m., but who can trust what the weather forecasts say these days? The weather is very unpredictable. When we set off it was ‘long sleeves, and a jacket’ type of weather, but it wasn’t long before the jacket came off.

We wanted to fill the water tank before we entered today’s two tunnels, Cyan handles much better when her tanks are full. ¬†We gave up that plan when we saw how many (hire) boats were moored in the area, making it difficult to get to the water tap.

Though the weather’s dull, we did enjoy the scenery, even glimpsed the Dutton Railway Viaduct.

Cruising along; we caught up with a family on a hire boat, ‘Dad’ was cruising very slow, meaning we followed at tick-over pace, hanging back so we didn’t appear to be ‘bullying’ him.

It wasn’t long before we were at the entrance to Saltersford Tunnel. We arrived at 25 past 10, so we only had to wait 5 minutes until we were allowed to enter the tunnel at half past the hour. Rusty fared a little better in the tunnel, but that was until the teenagers in the hire boat in front of us decided to make ghostly noises. I hugged him all the way through trying to reassure him. Saltersford has a kink in the middle, which made the passage interesting.

The pic below was taken when we left the tunnel, you can just about see the ‘lane’ at the top of the tunnel where the barge horses walked over the length of the tunnel, while the barge was obviously legged through the tunnel.

Almost immediately we were entering Barnton Tunnel, though not before leaving a bit of space between us and the hire boat. There’s almost a 40 deg turn to enter the tunnel, and it’s not easy to see the entrance to ‘line up’ the boat. Whoops, John managed to catch the chimney on the roof, scraping chimney’s ‘hat’ along the ceiling. Luckily the ‘hat’ stayed on. Don’t know exactly what happened to the hire boat in the tunnel, but somewhere about the middle we heard a crashing noise, a bit of shouting, and Cyan was put in reverse to stop us banging into them. They must have sorted themselves out, as they were soon on their way again.

Rusty would be happy if he knew we’ve no more tunnels planned for a while.

We sailed past the Anderton Boat Lift entrance, and then moored up. We might be chilling for a day or two while we explore the visitor’s centre. Or we might not, the world’s our lobster so it’s said!

 

Today we’ve cruised 5 miles, sailed through 2 tunnels, Moored where WiFi is 8Mg, and Digital TV is OK.

Our start postcode: WA4 4LQ

Our moored postcode: CW9 6AQ

Through Preston Brook Tunnel

Yesterday we left our mooring by ‘Matthew Corbett’s house’ (thank you Pip and Carol) and gently wound our way to Stockton Quay Bridge #15.

Once moored, we got ready for Sunday Lunch with good friends we hadn’t seen for a while, Sue and Matt. They arrived with gifts too, a gorgeous port pie, a pot of caramelised onion chutney, and a pot of piccalilli, all from ‘The Pork Pie and Pickle Company, Great Sankey, Warrington’. You’re right Sue, the pork pie was amazing! Boy did we enjoy it, we had some for supper last night, and the rest for lunch today. (Thank you for yesterday, we had a great time! X)

With being moored only metres from Thorne Chandlery & Boat Services, and being low on water, we half filled (because the flow was slow) Cyan’s water tank. Then we were on our way, after registering Thorne’s diesel price was 69p litre.

But before we left, we had a brief chat with Nigel from Thorne who explained the requirements for Boat Safety Certification. He was very informative, and we discovered the location of our ‘Fuel Tank Vent’. Under the cap on the top of the red dolly is an anti-flame filter that must be inspected, and in place to prevent a flash fire. You learn something new every day!

I know we shouldn’t be nosy, peeking into passing gardens, but just had to snap this sculpture of an eagle or a hawk, carved out from a tree trunk. (Wish our camera was better!)

We passed slowly through a fishing competition, and it looked very competitive too judging by the black looks we got from the fishermen. “I’ve been ****** double boated twice today!”, exclaimed one competitor. I prefer this type of ‘fisherman’ below!

As we were passing, we called into Midland Chandlers which has got quite a good selection of cookers on display. Cyan’s galley doesn’t really work for us, but we said we’d live with it through the summer before finally deciding exactly what we want. It’s now getting pretty desperate as the burner in the oven packed up a couple of weeks ago, resulting in NO ROASTS! So while we were passing, I thought it would be good to see their range ‘in person’.

(Anyone handy that would like an oven that needs a repair? The grill works fine. The model is Country Leisure Midi Prima).

It was high time we bought a spare sealer for a Thetford cassette (just in case), a tube of silicon grease for the sealer, and two brass ‘T Studs‘. I hate watching John climb onto the bow to secure the mooring rope. Being over 70, he doesn’t ‘bounce’ like he used to, though he won’t admit it! I’ve finally talked him into buying two T Studs, and having them fitted on each side of the bow for easy access. They are the bolt on type, so expect there will be the sound of happy drilling soon!

We’ve now ‘cruised’ out of the Bridgewater, and are back on the C&RT’s Trent & Mersey. What a beautiful canal the Bridgewater is, we’ve really enjoyed its company!

This is us passing out of Preston Brooke Tunnel.

Rusty did his normal ‘jelly’ impression in the tunnel. I held him tightly and rubbed his chest, while he trembled. We’ve got 2 more tunnels to pass through tomorrow. In comparison, Preston Brook Tunnel is 1239 yards long, tomorrow we’ve Saltersford Tunnel which is 424 yards long, and Barnton Tunnel which is 572 yards long.

We’re now moored just past Dutton Wharf Bridge #212 on rings.

Today we’ve travelled almost 8 miles, through a 1239 yard tunnel, and one stop lock. WiFi is 25Mg, and Digital TV isn’t very good!

(For the benefit of Sue and Matt, because they find it difficult to keep track of our journey, we’ll add postcodes. ūüôā )

We started today at postcode WA4 5BH, mooring at postcode WA4 4LQ.

 

Shopping Problems, Tesco Helps

Our food cupboards were getting desperate, we had planned to stock up at Aldi, by the Waterside Inn, just before the last bridge on the Leigh Arm of the L&L, but the moorings were taken.

So plan B: This involves Google Maps, and searching for a suitable place where Tesco can deliver without causing any problems with the locals.

We found such a place in Lymm: ¬†Just over the bridge, off ‘New Rd’, there’s a place for the Tesco van to deliver.

Last evening my shopping list was loaded onto the Tesco website, so that when we moor up at the ‘identified’ mooring, we can inspect the area just to make sure there’d be no problems, then we can book a delivery slot, and order the provisions.

We left our mooring at Dunham Massey, and cruised down the canal until we arrived at the designated spot just before Lymm Bridge #23.

Luckily all appeared to be as we thought. So I went ahead and booked a slot. Firstly I had to create a ‘new delivery address’ and added the postcode of the bridge (according to canalplan.eu). Tesco’s website then asks which property, unfortunately there’s no ‘Lymm Bridge #23’ in the ‘drop down’ menu! ¬†Though there is an address for the ‘Golden Fleece’, so I chose that!

Then I chose a slot, and I was delighted to find that the Tesco in this area are doing a ‘same day’ delivery. I chose the earliest slot, 7:00 p.m.

In the ‘Delivery Instructions’ there’s a text box. In the box I typed:

DO NOT DELIVER TO THE GOLDEN FLEECE! We are on a narrowboat named Cyan. With the pub behind you, go over Lymm Bridge and turn immediate right. We are moored up under the bridge – just like a troll! Call if you need help Tel: xxxxxxxxxx
Thanks

Just before 7:00 p.m. John wandered over the bridge and saw the Tesco delivery van in the Golden Fleece’s car park. The delivery driver had climbed down the steps onto the canal (on the left of the bridge ‘see pic above’) and was looking for Cyan. John shouted out “Mr Tesco”, and the driver turned around, and raced back to his van. After re-reading the instructions, he was full of apologies for not reading the instructions carefully.

Within minutes the driver was passing crates of food through the hatch, straight into the galley where I was quickly unloading the goodies.

The delivery man was a really nice guy, and asked if he could take a picture of Cyan to pass on to Tesco head office as they like to hear of ‘unusual’ deliveries.

After shoehorning the provisions into the gallery, and all over the pullman, we sailed Cyan around the corner to the other side of the bridge where we’re presently moored up, at this gorgeous mooring. Here I put everything away, into the many storage spaces, as you do…

The gentleman of this house, in the pic, is very pleasant, and even asked if Tesco had delivered on time! His garden is amazing!

This is the other side of the canal, by the garden of the ‘Golden Fleece’, and where the Tesco Delivery man was looking for Cyan.

 

This morning the rain was torrential, intermittent with squally showers – we decided to stay put for the day!

Tomorrow we’ve about 4 miles to cover to get to Stockton Quay Bridge. We’ve arranged to meet friends there, and have booked Sunday lunch in at the pub. ¬†Hope the weather behaves!

Yesterday we travelled 4 miles, no locks. WiFi is 13 Mg, brilliant Digital TV.

Had To Visit “The Field Of Dreams”

We left our pretty moorings at Worsley. Weather outlook looked brilliant!

Winding our way through Patricroft.

We soon found ourselves sailing over Barton Lane Overbridge, just in front of the Aqueduct. Rusty’s right ear nearly always appears to get ‘in’ on the picture.

This is our entrance to the famous Barton Swing Aqueduct.

Wear and tear of history just oozes.

Looking at the mechanism, and wondering if they are safe!

Then it’s WOW! And the colly-wobbles start! That’s Manchester to the left….

Looking to the right, overlooks the Barton Swing Road Bridge, and the Thelwall Viaduct in the distance.

Can’t believe we’re sailing in a large bath!

The aqueduct pivots on an island in the middle of the Manchester Ship Canal and swings full of water, 800 tons of it. The aqueduct is considered an engineering masterpiece. It’s one of the engineering feats of the waterway world, and it attracts navigational enthusiasts from all over the world.

Built between 1893 and 1894 to replace Brindley’s 3 arch aqueduct of 1761. The bridge is literally an iron bath 18 feet wide, 7 feet deep, and 235 feet long. The bath/tank/trough is full of water, it sits on roller bearings, and is driven by hydraulic machinery, supplied by electrically powered pumps.

Here’s YouTube of the aqueduct in motion:

Leaving the Barton Swing Aqueduct.

After a short sail, we could have stopped to visit the Trafford Centre – there are moorings should we have wanted to stop. If I was dressed up for it, if the weather wasn’t so good, and if we weren’t on mission to see the ‘Field of Dreams’, I might have spent the rest of the day in there….

There is an unpleasant smell in the atmosphere and we soon discovered it was the Kellogg factory. The smell seemed to be with us for quite a while. I felt sorry for those who lived in the area, and had to live with this smell – perhaps they don’t notice it anymore? It wasn’t a pleasant toasty smell, as I’d imagined it would be.

We’d planned to turn left at ‘Stretford, Waters Meet’ (wonder why it’s not called a ‘junction’?), just for a little peek at ManU’s Old Trafford – it would be rather rude to be so near, yet not visit!

Here’s Cyan, paying homage!

Carrying on from United’s stadium, we went under ‘Throstle Nest Bridge’ – bit of a coincidence, but I don’t think there’s any connection here with ‘The Baggies’.

We passed, a Water Taxi, it was going quite a lick too.  

Passing by the Manchester Ship Canal, and I’m thinking Salford Quays is beyond…

… as we’ve just passed the TV Centre at Salford Quays. I’m sure we’d get good digital TV here!

At the ‘colourful’ Pomona lock that goes onto the Ship Canal, we turned/winded Cyan.

Travelling past the tram station.

Here we are, back again at ‘Waters Meet’, where we turned left to continue our journey.

We passed through Sale, where the canal is as straight as a die!

We passed a ‘birthday’ boat!

It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable day today! Eventually we moored in the countryside, next to a wooden bench where we ended the day with a bottle of something very nice. (Well that doesn’t sound good does it? But in this instance, it’s true!)

I should also add we moored at Dunham Massey – the medieval seat of the ‘Massey Barons‘!

Today we’ve cruised 13 miles, no locks. WiFi 5 Mg, Digital TV not good.

Hello Bridgewater Canal!

We woke to a glorious day, on this beautiful canal, the Leigh Arm of the Leeds to Liverpool.

We said ‘good bye’ to our neighbours who had ‘kindly’ woken Rusty at 5 this morning!

Passing a very busy swan who was concentrating on her morning preening.

We are cruising in an area where coal mining was the main industry. We can now only imagine what this area must have looked like.

Each coal/slag area has been replaced with ‘flashes’ or lakes. With all the recreational facilities on these expanses of water, it must look like utopia to the old miners and bargees that worked and lived in this area.

Personally there’s a ‘belonging feel’ about this area, I had a relative on my mother’s side who was a coal bargee on this stretch. Though the family didn’t live on the boats here, as they did in the Midlands. On my father’s side there are generations of coal miners, the first generation coming from Mold, Wales, about 1800 to work in the Leigh coal mines. My grandmother was in fact born in Leigh.

Sharp eyed John spotted a winding head. It wasn’t working of course, yet it looked like a ‘ghost’ from a by-gone age.

It’s the first time we’ve seen this type of wharf, the wharf has ‘bay areas’ giving the side a jagged edge.

On this stretch, the water is definitely a different colour. We’re imagining the area is rich in iron ore.

We arrived at the Plank Lane lift bridge around 10:30 a.m., well outside the rush hour restrictions. There was no sign of ‘John 2’, and we didn’t expect we’d see him.

John manned the electric lift bridge, and I took Cyan through. With the sharp wind that was blowing, I was pleased there was a narrow ‘throat’ leading to the the bridge. It kept Cyan ‘still’ while the automatic procedure worked its sequence of sounding an alarm, turning traffic lights red to stop the traffic, dropping traffic barriers, then lifting the bridge. Obviously when Cyan had passed through, the sequence set off again, though in reverse, eventually John’s waterway key was released.

The picture is looking back at the lift bridge.

By the lift bridge a new marina is being built, along with a new housing estate. It’s great to see the canal is a feature in the architecture.

The new houses have solar panels incorporated into the roof. Sad they couldn’t do the same with satellite dishes, and burglar alarms. I’m sure one day every house will be like a pod, generating its own energy, rather like narrowboats.

The picture below is not very clear, but this sculpture looks like a book standing on its end, its constructed with old lock gates.

Remains of an old railway bridge, tidied up, with a grass planted on top.

Eventually we came to the end of the Leigh Arm of the L&L, the cruise was nothing as we imagined, it was beautiful, and it’s thoroughly recommended.

Before we passed onto the Bridgewater we’d planned to stop by the ‘Waterside Inn’ where there’s an Aldi next to the mooring; our cupboards are getting bare. When we arrived we were disappointed to find all the moorings were taken. It wasn’t convenient to moor on the other side of the canal, using the bridge, as the bridge was on a busy road, and the door to Aldi was rather far to carry bags of shopping. So we moved on, to formulate another plan later.

Hello the Bridgewater!

The entrance to the Bridgewater is understated, and its without a stop lock. Basically we sailed under Leigh Bridge #11, coming out of the Bridge and onto the Bridgewater. On the Bridgewater side there’s a lovely wooden sculpture of two arms linking, one ‘arm’ is the Broadwater and one is the L&L.

We passed the new bridge, which looks to be still under construction. We had been told (unconfirmed) the original bridge had been pulled down, and that bit of the canal filled in, a temporary road was placed on top, This bit of road was used by contractors building the new estate that’s close by.¬†¬†The work had stopped boats passing through the length of the Bridgewater for several months.

It’s lovely to see, what was an old derelict wharf, planted up and made into a peaceful garden.

We arrived at our mooring at Worsley Delph. Unbelievable to think the Canal went underground to carry coal from the coal face and drainage water out of the mines. Here’s more information.

Our mooring’s at a lovely setting, in the middle of Worsley, and right next to a small memorial park.

Mooring right next to us was the ‘Water Womble’!

The Water Womble works up and down the Bridgewater, collecting rubbish from the canal.

A member of the crew explained to John about the history of the ‘Water Womble’, it appears an owner of a trip boat was so fed up, and embarrassed over the rubbish in the canal, that after he moored up his trip boat, he went out on another boat to collect the rubbish. Eventually, over 20 years ago, he bought the ‘Water Womble’, employing staff to collect the rubbish. Nowadays, I believe the Water Womble is paid by the owners of the canal.

When the owner first bought the ‘rubbish collecting’ boat, children in the area would throw things at it, they didn’t like it. Until he came up with the idea of calling it a ‘Water Womble’, and painting a womble on the front. Children now love it, and look out for it and throw their rubbish ‘into’ the boat! What a great idea for a Franchise Operation on other canals? How about it CRT?

It looks to be very successful too as the Bridgewater canal is pristine!

Worsely is in bloom, making it a lovely place to visit.

Today we’ve travelled 10 very enjoyable miles. WiFi is barely available, and only a small digital TV signal.

[NB: We’ve now started on our ‘new’ mini journey, which will take us from the start of the Leigh Arm on the Leeds to Liverpool Canal, and ending at Aqueduct Marina on the Middlewhich Canal; the journey will be 64 miles, and will transit through 9 locks, one lift bridge, and the Anderton Boatlift.]

Descending The Wigan Flight Of Locks

Today’s the day we descended down the Wigan Flight of 21 locks.

At 8:30 a.m., as requested by the lock keeper, we were ready on parade.

John was taking down Cyan through the locks, while I helped the Lock Keepers. We were going down with a boat which had a single handed boater, also named John, whom for the day was known as ‘John 2’.

Just before 8:30 a.m., with windlass and a handcuff key, I wandered over to the top lock to introduce myself to the two lockies. Joe was the permanent lock keeper, and yet another John, whom we named ‘John 3’ for day, was a volunteer lock keeper. We soon got into a system, which took us down the locks quite quickly. We were also helped by another lock keeper from the ‘Liverpool’ side, who ‘set’ (filled locks with water) many of the locks for us.

We did notice last evening that another boat had insisted on going down the locks last evening, the lock keeper kept asking the ‘crew’ if they were “Sure”. This morning, as we were descending, we met them coming up the locks, returning to the top lock. They looked pretty shaken up, and told us the boat’s rudder had bent, making it difficult to steer the boat. Apparently, they had ‘cilled’ the boat on one of the lock’s cills.

In the picture below you can see the cill, there are white line markers on the side walls, which guide the helmsman to keep his boat clear of the cill. On descending the lock, as the water is let out, the boat can easily catch on the cill, tipping the boat up at the back – resulting in a disaster! Bending the rudder was mild to what could have happened.

Joe the lockie, and his friend from the ‘Liverpool side’ know the flight very well, and kept pointing out different points of interest, while all the time keeping mindful of safety. Little bits of information, like telling John to watch the next lock because the walls were leaking badly, and he was likely to be drenched.

Despite me personally dreading going down the locks, the whole experience was really enjoyable. The locks are difficult, and no doubt I’d have struggled quite a bit without the lockies. ¬†Thank you guys, you are magic!

Eventually, we reached the bottom of the locks. We moored up on rings, while John went to see Lynne in the CRT office.

The iconic building across the canal was once the site of a coal fuelled power station. Up until the 1970s coal barges were still delivering coal from the many coal mines in the area via the canal, to this wharf. 

The Lockie from Liverpool showed John how to get to the CRT Office – without him John didn’t think he could have found it. ¬†On the way there, they saw a policewoman taking notes, as she stood by a cruiser which was moored on the canal. In broad daylight someone had broken into the boat; as luck would have it, a kind person saw what had happened, and had alerted the police. The problem was that the owner was not around. CRT, because they would know the boat owner’s details, agreed to contact him/her.

Lynne from the CRT office had the license holders ready for John. During a conversation with Lynne, John mentioned the fraught trip we had through the Huddersfield narrows. He told her that we are now on our way to a marina to have Cyan taken out of the water for re-blacking as the blacking looks badly scruffed (it was only blacked 12 months ago), and for the skeg bearing on the rudder to be inspected as John believes it’s been damaged by repeatedly running aground through lack of water. Certainly the stern tube gland which we had to have replaced by the boatyard at Aspley basin at the bottom of the Huddersfield narrows, was caused through the Huddersfield being short of water.

Lynne sympathised, and gave John an ‘Incident Form’ in case he needs to make a claim from CRT’s insurers. She mentioned, if Cyan was damaged through there being a lack of water, then we could make a claim. We never knew that!

After John returned, we had lunch and decided, mainly because of the other boat getting broken into, to continue our ‘journey’, turning left to go down the Leigh Arm. John asked ‘John 2’ the single handed boater who came down the locks with us, if he’d like to join us as we’ve two locks, and the ‘Plank Lane’ electric lift bridge to go through. We had to get through the lift bridge by 4:30 p.m., otherwise we’d have to wait until 6:00 p.m. Lifting the bridge is also forbidden between 8:00 a.m., and 9:30 a.m all in aid of road traffic rush hour.

‘John 2’ jumped at the suggestion, as going through locks, and lift bridges are difficult if there’s only one.

This time I steered Cyan through the two locks, while John did the locking. ¬†At one of the locks, John noticed Cyan was pushing a wooden pallet along (I didn’t notice though, which is a little worrying!), it took him quite a bit of effort to fish the pallet out of the water.

The Leigh Arm canal is very beautiful, especially as we passed through the ¬†‘flashes’ (that’s what they are called) of water where the mines used to be.

The weather has really held up today, and sailing through the afternoon was pleasant. ‘John 2’ was cruising in front of us, and when it became obvious we weren’t going to make Plank Lane Lift Bridge before 4:30 p.m., we tried to attract his attention. ¬†It had been a long day for us, we’d gone down 23 locks, and didn’t fancy waiting until 6:00 p.m. to start again. We hooted ‘John 2’ but couldn’t get him to look our way. In a really pleasant area, the temptation was too great, so we moored up!

Sorry ‘John 2’ we never got to say ‘So Long’ – no doubt we’ll come across you on the canal another time.

Today we’ve travelled 6 miles, and 23 locks. WiFi is 5Mg and there’s no digital TV.

[NB: We’ve now completed our ‘mini’ journey which started at the Huddersfield Narrows on 12th May 2017; finishing at the bottom of the Wigan Flight on 15th August 2017:

The journey took 95 days, 157 miles, and 190 locks.]

Dilly Dallying On The Leeds To Liverpool Canal

We spent the weekend (5th/6th August) moored by Fredrick’s ice cream shop (Giles Bridge #73), not necessarily because we loved the delicious ice cream, but because it’s such a nice place to moor.

Monday (7th August) was abysmal, it rained most of the day, and it didn’t take much to convince ourselves to remain put.

We did make a phone call to CRT though. We wanted information regarding assisted passage through the 21 Wigan locks. John’s arthritic knees are playing up, possibly through the damp weather, and I didn’t think I’d fair too well working Cyan down all the 21 locks myself (worse scenario). There is a place to moor halfway down the locks, allowing boaters to tackle the locks over two days, but that didn’t appeal.

We find CRT are always very helpful, and we were told that Tuesday is the day lockies assist boaters down the locks, but unfortunately tomorrow (8th August) was fully booked. There was nothing left for it but to book Cyan to go down the locks next Tuesday (15th August). This means we’ve to ‘hang around’ for a week. John also asked if they have two plastic ‘license holders’ to stick in Cyan’s windows, as the ones we have at the moment, have disintegrated. Lynne from CRT told John to call into the CRT office at the bottom of Wigan locks, to pick up a set.

Tuesday morning looked to be a day of sun and rain, though the clouds were stubborn enough to mostly hang around all day without letting the sunshine through. Nevertheless, we thought we’d make a ‘move’.¬†We were in need of Services, Elsan, water, and the diesel tank was now only a third full. John likes to keep the diesel tank topped up as much as possible, something to do with ‘diesel bugs’! We should have topped up when we were in the marina, but we were remiss.

Our plan today was to aim for White Bear Services, top up with diesel, exchange a bottle of gas, top up with water, and to use their Elsan services. Then we’d moor up under the bridge, while I scoot to the Adlington CoOp for fresh provisions.

Now this is serious silting up of the canal.

Cruising on the way to White Bear Marina, we passed Ellerbeck Narrowboats Wharf, they had a notice on the wharf advertising diesel for 75p a litre. Not bad we thought, and we kept the price in mind. Shortly afterwards we arrived at White Bear Marina. As there were no notice outside for what they were charging for diesel, John popped into the marina office. He returned looking disappointed, and miffed that we hadn’t stopped at Ellerbeck Narrowboats, as White Bear Marina wanted to charge us 90p a litre. We jumped back on Cyan for a short 100m trip under the bridge, where we temporarily moored while I sought out the CoOp.

So now we’ve ‘Plan B’. We’ll cruise to the top of the Wigan locks, just to see what’s ahead of us next Tuesday, then we’ll turn or wind Cyan around, call at Ellerbeck ¬†for diesel, and continue back to our mooring near Fredrick’s ice cream again.

After winding Cyan by Wigan top lock, two lock keepers hailed us; they had a fearful look about them, thinking we wanted to go down the locks there and then. Probably they were tired as they’d just returned from locking a pair of boats down the 21 locks. They quickly looked relieved when we said we had booked their help for next Tuesday, and that we were only casing out the locks.

Cruising back, the heavens opened, and we were pretty much forced into stopping on Adlington visitor moorings, just opposite where we’d temporarily stopped for the CoOp. These moorings proved to be great as they backed straight onto a playing field, which Rusty thought was marvellous. We stayed on that mooring for a couple of days.

At Ellerbeck we took on 150 litres of diesel (£22.50 cheaper than White Bear Marina), changed an empty gas bottle for a new one, bought a can of oil for the next oil change, filled up with water, and used the Elsan service.

We pootled back to our previous mooring by Fredrick’s Ice Cream shop for a few days, killing time until Tuesday morning.

We discovered a great wood walk, where Rusty turned into a ‘demon dog’!

We also reacquainted with the 5 heifers on a patch of land on the opposite side of the canal. Though there was a scary moment as we watched two of them try to ‘eat’ a plastic bag!

On Friday we cast off our mooring, cruising down the canal until the first winding hole, about turned Cyan, and set off to the Adlington Visitor Moorings which has Rusty’s playing field, and where a visit to the CoOp was once again in order.

This morning we made for the Wigan locks again, ready for our transition down the flights tomorrow.

Just love the amazing bridges!

Passing a very quaint, yet small bridge, where the canal flowed into a beautiful ‘lake’.

When we arrived at Wigan Top Lock, we met a single handed boater who we’ve been ‘paired’ with to descend the locks.

Early to bed, the lockies unlock the lock’s padlocks at 7:30 a.m., and we’ve to be ready for 8:30 a.m.!

The Seven Jackson’s Hillock Locks

Our aim for the day was to decend the 7 locks called Jackson’s Hillock Locks. Despite hearing the rain lashing on Cyan’s roof during the night, the day began relatively pleasant, weather-wise.

We left our mooring at about 10:00 a.m, after the decision that breakfast could ‘wait’ today.

We checked both the BBC’s weather website, and Accuweather website, and both results were conflicting. The BBC’s weather website forecast a dry day, while Accuweather said it was going to rain for a couple of hours around 11:00. We’re pleased to announce, the BBC’s weather forecast was the one that was accurate.

But just in case Accuweather turned out to be the accurate one, we took a picture of a few sunbeams while we could.

We cruised past a very salubrious bat’s residence. Basically it’s an add-on to an old concrete tower.

The journey was quite pleasant to Johnson’s Hillock Toplock, where we stopped to use the services. We also took the opportunity to have a sausage sandwich, and coffee for our belated breakfast.

Have to say the locks were hard work. We went down the locks by ourselves, but we were helped at the problematic first two locks by locals (think they were from the boatyard at the top of locks) who were taking down a wide beam behind us, they needed to drop the wide beam down two locks, turn the boat around, and then take it back up. Only half the mechanism on the top lock worked, which took ages to empty. The second lock was the same, except it was hard to fill it up as the water leaked out the bottom gates almost as quickly as we were filling it. One of the guys was very critical of the C&RT, saying the lock mechanism has been broken for three years.

There were lots of gongoozlers about, though these day I just get on with the locks, I used to worry cos I hadn’t put makeup on – oh the errors of my ways!

We were very lucky with the bottom two locks, they were full of water.

It’s a great sense of achievement getting through the locks as they are not the easiest.

After the locks we were rewarded with glorious sunshine, and a very pleasant cruise to where we are moored tonight, at Giles Bridge (#73).

The brickwork for some of these bridges are awesome, I can’t imagine how they were built.

While we were mooring up, people were watching us from the bridge eating huge ice cream cones. ¬†When a couple passed us walking along the towpath each with an ice-cream, we couldn’t help but ask where the ice cream came from. We were told it’s from a shop called ‘Fredericks’ which is 100m from the bridge (see their website).

Of course an investigation was in order. I had to literally queue out in the road for our ice-cream. There must have been about six families in front of me, all with children, and they were choosing which homemade ice-cream from a range of about 50 flavours. Then they could choose which ice-cream cone, a chocolate covered one, or one covered with sprinkles, there were more but I didn’t delve. Before they received their ice cream, they could choose which sauce, chocolate, toffee, raspberry….. of course these decisions takes time! John had a ‘rum and raisin’ one, I had a ‘mint and chocolate chip’ one, both were in a chocolate covered cone, with chocolate sauce on the top.

The last time we had ice-cream, it was from a Mr Whippy van in Gargrave, two 99’s cost ¬£6.50! Today our ‘luxury’ ice-cream cost us ¬£4!

It was funny, when I returned with the ice-creams, on the towpath near Cyan, a lady cyclist was sitting on a stone. She’d just finished a milkshake from Fredericks, saying it was absolutely lovely, they’d used fresh bananas to make it! She reminded me of ‘Winnie the Poo’, with his pot of honey!

Today we’ve done about 11 miles, and 7 locks. We’re moored with 8Mg of Wifi, and a good digital TV signal.

Tonight we’ll be listening to the Proms on BBC4, as they’re ‘doing’ Ella (Fitzgerald)! We’ve been looking forward to this all week!

 

Grumpy Old Me!

Wide awake at 7:00 a.m. this morning, and pondering over a coffee, we wondered what’s the best thing to do travel wise. Outside the heavens had opened, and the rain was once again lashing down.

We double checked both the BBC’s weather website, and Accuweather to see if their weather forecasts had a general ‘theme’ to what today’s weather’s likely to be. ¬†We were disappointed that both were rather negative. Though there looked to be a positive slot at 11:00 a.m. which made us optimistic.

For breakfast we had what John calls a ‘Scania Hubcap’, commonly called a full English breakfast – for the main purpose of cheering us up, and knowing we’ve got six locks to do in the dreariest of weather!

At 11:00 a.m as predicted, the sun came out, though the clouds still looked ominous, and were not to be trusted. Cyan was cast off for our 3 mile cruise to the 6 Blackburn locks. The cruise through Blackburn was not one of the best journeys, the canal was filthy with strewn office chairs, bottles, beer cans, the usual detritus. The scenery was of derelict factories, and office premises. We couldn’t wait to get through Blackburn (sorry if I’ve offended anyone – I don’t mean to offend).

We did pass a lovely swan family, mum and dad taking great care of their sleepy ‘big’ babies.

Eventually we arrived at Blackburn Top Lock, I was on locking duty as I’m craftily ‘saving’ John’s arthritic knee for lock duties when we go down the Wigan flight of 20 odd locks!

The wind at Blackburn top lock was vicious, and it was a taster for what was to come!

Just as Cyan was almost lowered to the bottom of the ‘top lock’, another boat appeared behind us. It was a hire boat, the crew consisted of Dad, Mum, an 11 year old boy, and (to the boy) his ‘annoying’ 6 year old sister. Both kiddies were lovely. As soon as Mum was within hearing distance, I told her we’d wait in the next lock for them, so we could go down the locks together. I did wonder at the time if I’d done the right thing, as the six year old was the sort who had bags of confidence, she was a lightweight, and the wind was fierce! Kids scare me at locks.

At lock 2, and just before the Mum and I opened the gates to let both of our boats out of the lock, two ladies appeared with windlasses in their hands. The gist of the conversation was, we leave the gates open for their boats, and they will leave the gates open for us at lock 3. Great! Except when I got to lock 3, the ladies’ boats were only just about entering the lock.

My thought at the time was for John steering Cyan, and the ‘Dad’ steering the hire boat; having to moor up, or tread water in the pound, between the locks in the wind. Mooring wasn’t possible as there weren’t any convenient bollards, and to hold onto the centre line was fraught with a battle with the high wind.

It appeared there was one man and a child helping to raise the two boats in Lock 3. When I got there I went over the bridge to shut the bottom gate, and then I opened the two sluices to let the water into the locks. Then it dawned on me, why were those two women waiting at Lock 2, when they should be helping lock their own boats out of the lock? I was now getting miffed. Hands on hips (typical stance when upset) I watched both boats sail out of the lock without a backward glance, I waited for a thank you! None came! Grrr so I shouted after them… I can’t remember what I said, but they knew I was angry.

John by this time had let Cyan settle on the off-side of the canal alongside a high stone wall, where the wind had pushed them. As one of the boaters passed John, the man said that they’d upset his ‘partner’ at the lock, and he didn’t know what he’d done wrong. But that he was very sorry!

The swell of water as the two boats passed Cyan, apparently pushed Cyan further into the bank by the high wall – lifting her onto a ledge! Disaster!

Cutting a long story short, after lots of rocking the boat, and attempts pushing Cyan ‘off’ with a pole, the situation seemed dire! In the end I jumped onto the bow of the hire boat at the bank, after which the ‘Dad’ reversed the hire boat until the bow was level with Cyan’s stern. At this point I caught Cyan’s stern rope, and tied it to the hire boat’s bow. Following a few ‘urgent’ revs of the engine which was in reverse, Cyan was freed!

At the next 3 locks, the sluices had been accidentally (or ignorantly) left open by the ‘troublesome’ boaters.

Not to worry, we’ve put this down to experience! Especially now that we’ve settled on our mooring in a rather nice area just before Riley Green.

Today we’ve travelled 6.5 miles, and ‘endured’ 6 locks. Wifi is around 14Mg, and TV is OK.

Tomorrow we’re going down 7 Johnson’s Hillock locks – ‘please kindly pray for us’ ūüôā

Only Rely On Weather Forecasts Being Unreliable!

The weather forecasters appear to be having problems predicting the weather. With this in mind, we thought we’d ignore the weather forecasts, and that we should ‘man-up’ to the point of travelling in the rain. Otherwise, we’ll never get anywhere.

We left our mooring at Hepton Bridge around 8.30 a.m., now that’s early for us! Our thinking was to make for Bridge 107A early, before the (so called) predicted rain. We hadn’t been going long, before the rain started. Luckily the bridges are relatively high, so we could travel with the canopy up. Unfortunately we can’t roll up the ‘windscreen’, so visibility isn’t very good. Even my ‘good idea’ before setting off, of cleaning the screen with waxed furniture polish to repel the rain turned out to be less than a success!

We set off thinking how more beautiful our journey would be if only we could see the scenery.

Though the views still didn’t disappoint.

John’s arthritic knee is still playing up, so I volunteered to ‘swing’ the last three swing bridges on our journey of the Leeds to Liverpool. At the first swing bridge I set off with both a handcuff, and a CRT key. Mainly the swing bridges are locked with a handcuff key, though there are a few bridges that use a CRT key. The automatic bridges all use the CRT key.

Arriving at the bridge, it didn’t take long to realise that to swing the bridge a windlass was needed, as well as a handcuff key. I trudged back to Cyan in the drizzle to pick up a windlass (muttering with each step). Sometimes it’s impossible to preempt the ‘tools’ needed! Once ‘mastered’ the three swing bridges were easy to work. Basically the key unlocked the mechanism, the windlass lifted the bridge from it’s cradle, and with a gentle push, the bridge swung open.

With all the rain we’ve had, this lifeboat just might come in handy!

How the signets have grown, they’re almost as big as their parents. It seams ages since we’ve seen a brood of swans.

     Seating, Accrington style. To the right is a bridge.

The weather’s getting even more dreek!

We had anticipated to moor between bridges 107A and 107. Unfortunately the mooring wasn’t possible as overhead wires for pylons were either being replaced or newly erected. Beside the several areas of scaffolding, the twinging/whipping noise from the wires would have been an annoying problem.

We’re now moored for the night in the countryside by Bridge 106. ¬†WiFi is 25Mg, and good digital TV.

Tomorrow we’ve a busy day ahead, we’ve the six Blackburn Locks to drop down, and have about 10 miles of cruising, leaving Blackburn behind.

Today we’ve cruised 9.5 miles, and ‘swung’ three swing bridges.