Sunday, 31 July 2016

Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 July 2016

Typical that, on the morning we had decided that we would get up early and get through Blackburn before all the scallywags were awake, I could have stayed in bed!  We slipped lines at 7.30am, it was a beautiful sunny dewy morning.  It soon clouded over again though! 

We arrived at the bottom of the Blackburn flight of six locks at about 9.30am and managed to get through the first four with only a couple of polite good mornings from some bike riders and dog walkers, at the fifth lock there were two youngish guys smoking a joint as big as your nan’s rolling pin (and it was only 11am) but they were harmless enough asking how the locks worked and telling Steve that I was probably stronger than him doing all these locks!  They didn’t offer to help though!

We had been warned about the rubbish and weeds in the canal and had to do a prop clear out in the third lock - a canvas bag!

Through the last lock and we had decided that we would stop at a place called Church but when we got there we didn’t fancy staying there so I called the boatyard up the canal where we are leaving the boat for a few days whilst we dash back to London to see if we could come in a day early.

We got to one of the swing bridges and Steve got off to open it and I chugged through but could feel that something was stuck around the prop so I coasted through the bridge and we did another prop clear out.

Sunday was nice to have a day standing still in the boatyard to get a few chores done.

Leaving Withnell Fold.

You can't hide behind that tree!

Approaching Blackburn. 
Blackburn Rovers!

Handy having a fridge door behind the lock gate!

A long way from the Mill Hill we know!

Steve coming up to the sixth lock.

The weed is really thick here - causing all sorts of problems for propellers. 

Looking back across Blackburn.

This wallpaper factory have chosen a telephone box to advertise their goods!

Duck Deck!

Back out into the countryside.

Aqueduct over the M65.

Can't quite work out whether this poor goose was born like this or whether something has happened.

Nearly half way - when we hit 63 miles we are exactly half way between Liverpool and Leeds by canal.

Wouldn't fancy my chances leaving by this fire escape!

You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours!

This is what was caught round the prop - a pair of trousers!

Friday 29 July 2016

A quick dash to the local co-op for a few supplies then we set off in the rain!  We hung on until late morning in the hope that it would pass but had to get going.

Just as we were untying we spotted Matilda - a huge wide beam that chugs at 1mph – coming along so we quickly (well as fast as a narrowboat can go) got away in front of her!

We stopped at a place called Botany Bay village where we picked up a nice fresh loaf and some free range eggs - four floors of arts and crafts and a garden centre but Steve said we didn't have time for browsing as we wanted to beat Matilda to the flight of locks. 

We climbed Johnson's Hill Locks, a flight of seven locks, which still seemed quite a challenge - not sure if it's because I am still aching from the Wigan Flight or whether all the locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal are difficult!  As it's school holidays we did enlist some help from a couple of youngsters.

The countryside here is amazing and as we climbed up the flight the views were spectacular, it was nice that the sun also put in an appearance for a short while.  I couldn't live in the North West the weather is so rubbish! 

We stopped at a nice little village called Withnell Fold.  There isn’t a shop or pub here but it is a small estate village which was built to house workers at the canalside paper mills which have now been converted into small industrial units.

Glad we got away in front of Matilda!

Strange choice of garden ornaments!

Much prefer the flowers!

This is Botany Bay in the middle of nowhere!

Making our way up the Johnson's Hill Locks
The views at the top are well worth the effort!

We should have stopped here and gone to the pub - we've heard several good reports but we filled up with water and chugged on.

I'm a believer too!

Looking up to the mill from the canal. 

No messing in this village - get in trouble and you will be in the stocks!

The quaint little church.

Views of the Pennines in the distance. 

A memorial in a pleasant garden.

Standing on the bridge looking down.

The weather has a habit of being nice in the evening when it all feels a bit too late!

Friday, 29 July 2016

Thursday 28 July 2016

Happy Birthday Mo!

It was bright at 8am this morning but it was due to pretty much rain all day so we set off for a short day chugging, just to recharge the batteries.  We arrived at Adlington where there is a village with some shops etc so we decided to stop here.  As we arrived a guy that we had seen in Liverpool was just leaving so we grabbed his mooring.

No sooner had we moored than it started to rain!  We did go for a walk after lunch (in the rain) but thankfully it stopped at about 5pm.

Adlington is a small industrialised town with a few pubs and a scattering of shops.

Goodbye Golf Course!

Poor guy - he has a pump going and is trying to stop his boat from going down.

The canal up here enjoys a pleasant quiet isolation in this lightly wooded area.

Notice the side of the canal - not easy for a dog to get out of.  We have just gone past two ladies and cyclist laying on the ground trying to get a dog out of the canal.  We slowed right down and said we would hook him with the boat hook but the cyclist managed to grab his collar - I'm glad the woman wasn't on her own otherwise it may have been a different story.

The properties here really don't have any neighbours!


It really is - the woman was out there cleaning the the rain!
Looking down at our mooring from the bridge.

At last it has stopped raining - the water looks pretty still too (9pm) it stays lighter later up here.

Wednesday 27 July 2016

I had hoped I would be feeling more rested before tackling the Wigan flight but it wasn’t to be – we did the lock out of town with Dave and Beryl then said our goodbyes and Steve and I arrived at the bottom of the 21 lock flight.  The lovely CRT volunteer at the town mooring yesterday spent half an hour writing out a list of all the hints and tips about which doors to open and not etc on the flight – it is known to be tough.

I got the door open on the first lock and there was a wooden pallet and a wheelie bin in the lock!  Steve managed to get rid of the pallet with the boat hook but couldn't budge the bin but thankfully as we were going up, once we had filled the lock, the bin stayed on the bottom!

I did the first six locks on my own then we worked out a system that once I had got all the paddles open I would go ahead and set the next lock and Steve got off the boat opened the gate then closed the paddles and gates.  As we arrived at lock 75 (half way) we meet some boats coming the other way which meant that the next couple of locks were set in our favour.  I don't know why the top few were full - it must be because the leaks on the gates are so bad either that or there was a boat a long way in front of us.  The gate on lock 75 was so hard to close, Steve had to climb out of the lock and even the two of us couldn’t close it so the two guys on the boats going down came back to help us!  We swapped places and I got on the boat and Steve did the locks for a while.

One of the pounds was very low so Steve went ahead and opened some paddles to get some water down which cost us about an hour.  Once through the next four locks we swapped places again and finally six hours 20 minutes later we arrived at the top of the flight!  I am pleased to say that the sun came out.  We made our way along for another hour to the recommended mooring spot.  It feels very high up and the views are amazing.  Seven hours to travel just under three miles!  We are exhausted!

Following Dave and Beryl to Henhurst Lock.

Here comes Steve - wish we had been moored over there where we moored last time!
As we make our way up the flight the feel of outskirts of town turns into countryside.

The locks are quite far apart compared to lots of flights but looking back you can see Wigan in the distance.
Waiting for Steve to get the gate open.

The locks are so deep that we can't tie up so we just have to bob around and just let the front of the boat go where it wants to go! 

I'm waiting in this lock until Steve has opened the next few paddles to let some water into the pound as we don't want to ground out and get stuck.  We are surprised that this flight doesn't have a lock keeper or team of volunteers to help and monitor water levels. 

I'm sticking to the middle of the pound but look how shallow it is on the sides.

We've reached the top and stopped at the facilities.

I ran back (or walked actually - we ache from head to toe!) to take a photo looking back down the flight. 

This will do nicely - that's Wigan way over there in the distance and we have a golf course on the other side.