Indigo Dreaming

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Archive for October 12th, 2015

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 27

Posted by indigodream on 12 October, 2015

Rewind to Monday 31st August

Church to Johnson’s Hill Bottom Lock

The L & L changes its character here, but there are still views to be enjoyed...

The L & L changes its character here, but there are still views to be enjoyed…

We had a relaxed start to the day and set off at 10am-ish. The hounds were totally flat out after their busy day yesterday – as always, they over-do the zoomies at the start of the holiday then snooze through the rest πŸ™‚

There a long lock-free pound here, so Richard took the helm while I pottered around inside. It was another lovely day and we soon passed the halfway point of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal – no mean feat as this is the “longest single canal built by a single company”. We were a bit sad to reach the halfway point – we’ve thoroughly enjoyed this canal and were not in a rush for it to be over.

The western half of the canal is arguably less rural, but has an interesting mix of old and new industrial, which is fascinating. We kept moving today, but we liked the look of the Wharf pub, set in a converted trans-shipment warehouse.

I was fascinated by a short section of curved wall by Bridge 103 (Cicely Bridge) with decorative plaques and sculptures – it looked ornamental and was very picturesque. I haven’t found out much about it yet, but I did find this history of the L & L and a guide to the delights of Blackburn, which wasn’t as fearsome (by day at least!) as its reputation suggests….

It's pleasing to the eye, but what is it?

It’s pleasing to the eye, but what is it?

Note: The bridge numbering along the Leeds and Liverpool is surreal – bridges often have a combination of numbers and letters, but the letters are not necessarily in sequence and bridge A, AA and AAA are not uncommon! I guess that’s the challenge of an old canal with about three centuries of infrastructure, some of which then became defunct, demolished, replaced. There’s a history to be read in the landscape here, once you’ve stopped laughing at the anomaly of Bridge 111D being followed by 111A!

The Blackburn Locks take the canal through the city – there are signs warning that the towpath is locked overnight, creating apparently secure moorings for boaters. Despite its reputation, we had a smooth passage down – the hounds had a bobble at the top lock, but thereafter the locks were too close to the road. A young (to my eyes) grandad and his two boys walked down the locks with us – grandad was a rough diamond who was telling us that he’d won a “grandad of the year” award a few years ago after being left to look after his two grandsons by himself. Fair play to him, his grandsons were a chatty pair and were excited to help Richard with the locks.

We liked the look of this place - though I've had no luck in finding out any information and what I thought was a pub might be a caribbean restaurant!

We liked the look of this place – though I’ve had no luck in finding out any information and what I thought was a pub might be a caribbean restaurant!

There is a useful service point between locks 55 and 54 – the waterpoint is set just below lock 55 – it took us a while to spot it, and you need a long hose if your water tank inlet is at the bow (going down the locks). At the time, this was the last “clean” water before we entered the remaining contaminated stretches – luckily the restrictions were totally removed a few days later, but it seemed wise to fill up. Although we tend not to drink water from the boat’s main tank (we refresh drinking water bottles every day or other day), I didn’t want to introduce contaminated water into our main tank. I was concerned that bugs might breed unchecked in the tank and be difficult to get rid of later – Cryptosporidium is killed by boiling but is resistant to chlorine treatment e.g. Milton, at levels that enable you to drink the water afterwards!

Locking the 60′ Indigo Dream down the Leeds and Liverpool (60/62′ locks) was not as big a challenge as on the Calder and Hebble (57′ 6″ locks). Although I was in no real danger of cilling the boat (with a bit of care and attention), I was in danger of getting a soaking from leaky top gates. The back fender, and sometimes my feet, certainly got a good wash! What a relief it was to find that the last few locks in Blackburn had new top gates, beautifully mitred and perfectly dry. I’ve a note here that the towpath side of Blackburn bottom lock is secure for houndie rummaging but that the offside has access to a very busy road.

Sculpture at the service point in the Blackbrun flight - he ooks very miserable, but then he is cycling with uneven wheels over cobbles - ouch! :-)

Sculpture at the service point in the Blackbrun flight – he looks very miserable, but then he is cycling with uneven wheels over cobbles – ouch! πŸ™‚

Past Blackburn, the canal reclaimed its rural character and we enjoyed our passage down Johnson’s Hill Locks. We shared these locks with a hire boat – the novice crew had just picked up their boat and were being shepherded down the locks by a very pleasant chap from the hire base. Grandad on the helm was very nervous, so tandem manoeuvres were out of the question, though this would have been the perfect flight for them! Helm to helm communication was also hampered by grandad’s lack of confidence, so I felt that our passage down the locks was very slow; though Richard reported that the ground crew was very efficient.

Nonetheless, we were comfortably moored up at Bridge 80, just below the locks, by 6pm – plenty of time for me to get a cab back to Church and pick up the car.

The weather had been getting steadily worse as the day wore on, and by the time I got back with the car it was absolutely persisting with rain. Richard met me on the towpath with the hounds and we wended our way to the Malthouse Farm pub for supper. It was too cold and wet to sit in the pub garden, and the covered outside seating area seemed a bit comfortless; we gave up, having assumed that the pub, part of the Chef and Brewer chain, would not be dog-friendly. But as we were leaving, I asked a waitress on the off-chance and was delighted to find that they have a dog-friendly seating area in the bar. It was spacious, with plenty of room for four snoozing hounds and they served food there – result! We had such a convivial evening – the hounds drew so much positive attention from our fellow diners that we almost didn’t have time to eat – we answered many questions about the care and character of greyhounds and our boys were properly admired πŸ™‚

Pleasant moorings below Johnson's Hill Locks - the locals obviously take great pride in their canalside dwellings :-)

Pleasant moorings below Johnson’s Hill Locks – the locals obviously take great pride in their canalside dwellings πŸ™‚

It was absolutely persisting again when we left the pub and it was pitch dark, though we did have a torch to make ourselves more visible. The short walk back to the boat was a bit fraught – we got soaked, and the canal bridge is narrow and has no pavement, making for a nervous passage with four big dogs and passing traffic (mercifully few cars); the towpath was slick and I was glad to get back on board.

As we got close to the boat, we let the hounds off and Herbie, in a panic, leapt onto the front deck and stood looking at the front doors; the trouble is, they’re bolted from inside, so he had to wait for Richard to get into the boat at the stern and walk through. In the meantime, Herbie looked thoroughly confused and I had to stay with him in order to persuade him not to jump off the boat canalside! This reinforced my theory that Herbie is terrified of being left behind – he was dumped on the streets of Baldock back in 2011 and ended up at a police pound, under a 7-day death sentence until he was rescued by the RGT. My imagination has supplied the image of Herbie being led somewhere in the dark, let loose, and left behind – no wonder he craves the sanctuary of the boat 😦

Although the mooring was quiet, we had a restless night – Archie had a bed crisis (he wants to sleep with us or in Ollie’s bed – neither is an option!), Ollie gave the famous “greyhound scream of death” aka “gsod” at 4am (usually the more blood-curdling the gsod the more trivial the cause!) and Henry was hungry. Herbie hound is my hero – once he gets on the boat he just curls up and sleeps through the night!

Today’s Trivia

The frontage of the vast Imperial Mill building...

The frontage of the vast Imperial Mill building…

We took this photo of the vast Imperial Mill building just outside Blackburn – I though it might be interesting to find out a bit more about it. This Accrington website gave a useful potted history. The first Blackburn cotton spinning mill was openedΒ  in 1797, and the industry enjoyed rapid growth into the 1850s, when it was estimated that there were “2.5 million spindles in Blackburn”. I find the history of our spinning industry fascinating – cotton in Blackburn, silk in Macclesfield – how did these industries survive when their raw materials had to travel halfway across the world to get to them? I don’t think I’ve ever comprehended the power of the empire!

Imperial Mill was opened in 1901, and seems like a late entrant to Blackburn’s long history as a cotton spinning town. It must have seemed auspicious for the first few years, as the industry apparently peaked in 1912; but the First World War marked the start of a rapid decline as supplies of raw cotton became scarce and the world landscape changed forever. Imperial Mill was taken over by Courtaulds in the 1950s and spinning limped on until 1980, when the mill was closed. The vast building used to have a chimney, now long gone, but the rest of the building stands, though it has been empty for many years.

That’s a sad tale, but there are plans for Imperial Mill’s future, as this interesting little snippet suggests. It seems that the Mill will have a future as part of the local regeneration plan and will morph into housing; but it looks as if plans are on hold at the moment – watch this space!

Photoblog:

The mooring platform at Church - it doesn't look too promisng but we had a peaceful night there...

The mooring platform at Church – it doesn’t look too promising but we had a peaceful night there…

 

It needs touching up, but this mural at the magnificiently named Oswaldtwistle, complete with map of the L & L is fab. There are a lot of towpath gems along this stretch...

It needs touching up, but this mural, complete with map of the L & L is fab. There are a lot of towpath gems along this stretch…

 

The canal continues to soar above the M65 - I doubt whether the cars even notice...

The canal continues to soar above the M65 – I doubt whether the cars even notice…

 

This unique craft has a sign "give us a tow, I'm ready to go"..

This unique craft has a sign “give us a tow, I’m ready to go”..

 

The towpath is replete with art - it added a lot of interest to the trip...

The towpath is replete with art – it added a lot of interest to the trip…

 

Dereliction in action - sad to see that row of arches in a state of collapse...

Dereliction in action – sad to see that row of arches in a state of collapse…

 

This decorative mural is almost certainly associated with the canalside company Graham and Brown, manufacturers of lavish wallcoverings. I had a look at their website and was suitable awed - I never imagined that someon would take wallpaper quite that seriousy - https://www.grahambrown.com/us/info/corporate/what-walls-want

This decorative mural is almost certainly associated with the canalside company Graham and Brown, manufacturers of lavish wall coverings. I had a look at their website and was suitable awed – I never imagined that someone would take wallpaper quite that seriously – https://www.grahambrown.com/us/info/corporate/what-walls-want . If you go past do also have a look at the phone box!

 

This mill has already been regenerated :-)

This mill has already been regenerated πŸ™‚

 

Necessity, in the form of "no room for a beam" really is the mother of invention :-)

Necessity, in the form of “no room for a beam” really is the mother of invention πŸ™‚ and so very efficient

 

nb Kingsley Bridge - they love their boat lifts :-)

nb Kingsley Bridge – they love their boat lifts πŸ™‚

 

There's a story behind this structure - now abandoned and overgrown - I can't recall what it is though :-p

There’s a story behind this structure – now abandoned and overgrown – I can’t recall what it is though :-p

 

We know it's a broad canal, but we've seen so few wide boats on the move this trip boat came as a shock!

We know it’s a broad canal, but we’ve seen so few wide boats on the move this trip boat came as a shock!

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