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Archive for October 14th, 2015

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 28

Posted by indigodream on 14 October, 2015

Rewind to Tuesday 1st September

Johnson’s Hill Bottom Lock to Wigan

The Walton Summit branch is a lovely place to walk on a sunny morning...

The Walton Summit branch is a lovely place to walk on a sunny morning…

We had a big day ahead, but it was a beautiful morning and I made time to take the hounds for a walk along the unnavigable Walton Summit Branch, which splits off from the main navigation just below bottom lock. The branch was meant to be part of the Lancaster Canal, but the builders got daunted before they completed the link to the main canal, leaving us with the tidal Ribble Link and this picturesque stub of waterway which was perfect for a morning bimble. I was concerned that it might be a bit far for Ollie, but taking a slow pace he seemed to enjoy a gentle rummage.

We had a wonderful walk, thought slightly marred at the start when we stopped to talk to a friendly local walking two labradors. Ok, we were across the towpath – it’s not very wide here, but we were approached by an ancient jogger who took umbrage at having to stop for a microsecond while we pulled the dogs out of his path. He was really unpleasant, and if he had been in training for Rio and chasing his personal best I might have understood his ire, but I suspect that Ollie could have taken him on in a speed trial! They breed them tough in Lancashire though, and the labrador’s owner was up for a verbal scrap with the old geezer!

A more typical canal view..

A more typical canal view..

After a lovely bimble with the hounds, we set off contentedly at 10am. We’ve descended a long way and it was really obvious that the looming summits were well behind us. I missed the soaring views, but this is still a scenic waterway.

We stopped for diesel and a pump-out (Β£15) at White Bear Marina – alas, we remember that the diesel was cheap but don’t remember the exact price, though ballpark was 66 – 70p a litre. Richard had a little slobber over some giant trikes in the glossy showroom by the marina office – a very unusual business to be sharing a site with the slowest of slow boats πŸ™‚

Wigan is another city with a fearsome reputation, but it put on a fine welcome; some towns have signs, but Wigan had the smell of freshly baked bread wafting over the stretch leading to top lock. The first fourteen locks of the Wigan flight are surprisingly scenic, with plenty of rummaging opportunities for the hounds – except they were far too tired and jumped back on board almost as soon as we coaxed them off.

Surprisingly scenic view towards Wigan...

Surprisingly scenic view towards Wigan…

There was a bit of a wait at top lock as some CRT volunteers helped a wide-beam up the flight; I had wondered whether we’d have help down, but you have to book assisted passage and it had never occurred to us! We are a pretty slick locking team πŸ™‚ but this is a tough old flight to do.

We had a smooth enough passage down the locks, with plenty of water in the pounds (too much in some!) and the mechanisms worked well. I did have an issue with leaky top gates and got a bit fed up with trying to keep Indigo Dream’s back deck dry. Archie hound was also disgruntled – he was trying to sleep on his sheepie at my feet, but he kept getting dripped on – unacceptable!

We got to the town locks just as the kids were emerging from school – first in pairs, then a mob. This increased my anxiety level, but we didn’t have any trouble, just some displays of stupidity e.g. kids walking across the narrow top gates – some were as agile as mountain goats, others like lumbering elephants, following out of dumb teenage machismo. My vivid imagination saw them falling onto the concrete cill and bouncing into Indigo Dream’s mincing propeller – but of course the kids were all fine and I didn’t think that any warning from me would put them off!

kids - meh!

kids – meh!

I was fed up with the kids (though they had done nothing apart from being loud and stupid!)Β  but when we got to lock 82 they vanished – hurrah! We had a quiet passage down the remaining locks, accompanied by a security man who walks the towpath every evening, checking that the locks are locked and that the gates are shut and paddles down.

It’s a long story, but at one time we thought that we might be turning south at Wigan to allow Richard to use the boat as a pied a terre during his duties as a volunteer at the Rugby World Cup. But having attended the first volunteer training session, he declined the invitation – established venues like the Millennium Stadium didn’t really need volunteers as they’re already set up for big events and he didn’t feel he’d add value to the operation. Much better to spend the time cruising to Liverpool πŸ™‚

So when we got to the junction with the Leigh Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool (which links to the Bridgewater Canal), I had this feeling; we’d barely seen a boat all afternoon so surely there wouldn’t be a boat coming into Wigan this late in the day. As I approached the junction I slowed down, was a that a horn? It sounded like a car horn but I crept forward gingerly and there she was – nb Ellie May joining the L & L at pace – just as well I’d slowed down or there would have been quite a bang!

Wigan's secure moorings below lock 86- gated to the right of the photo, the the towpath moorings on the left were perfecty fine too :-)

Wigan’s secure moorings below lock 86- gated to the right of the photo, the the towpath moorings on the left were perfectly fine too πŸ™‚

We shared the last lock of the day with her, and as she’d pushed in front, she left the lock first and took the last secure gated mooring outside the CRT offices. Never mind, there was plenty of space towpath side and we’d been advised (by the security man) that we wouldn’t have any trouble there. As it happens, it was a quiet mooring and better for the hounds.

We did consider exploring the eateries of Wigan but I was too tired to contemplate it, so we ate on board and had another quiet evening with the DVD….

Photoblog:

Something smells interesting!

Something smells interesting!

 

Botany Bay Mill - now full of shopping outlets - says all you need to know about the move from manufacturing to retail...

Botany Bay Mill – now full of shopping outlets – says all you need to know about the move from manufacturing to retail…

 

A new fairground attraction for canals?? :-)

A new fairground attraction for canals?? πŸ™‚

Unique bridge numbering...

Unique bridge numbering…

 

Precipitation! I don't remember this, I must have found a coanny job indoors :-)

Precipitation! I don’t remember this, I must have found a canny job indoors πŸ™‚

 

Pretty scene - but why did I take this photo? It's just after the aqueduct past Arley Bridge....

Pretty scene – but why did I take this photo? It’s just after the aqueduct past Arley Bridge….

 

View up the Wigan flight - we're about four locks down at this point...

View up the Wigan flight – we’re about four locks down at this point…

 

Leaky top gates - bane of my locking - but I only washed my feet once or twice :-p

Leaky top gates – bane of my locking – but I only washed my feet once or twice :-p

 

My favourte Wigan view - a green corridor and a properly dry top lock gate -result!

My favourite Wigan view – a green corridor and a properly dry top lock gate -result!

 

This pile of stone intrigued me - there is absolutely no land access to it apart from a narrow footpath - I can see that it could be transported by boat but it was unusual..

This pile of stone intrigued me – there is absolutely no land access to it apart from a narrow footpath – I can see that it could be transported by boat but it was unusual..

 

Evidence of vandalism - this makes me so sad and so very very angry...

Evidence of vandalism – this makes me so sad and so very very angry…

 

Canal builders have to be very inventive when there is not enough room for a gate beam...

Here’s another inventive and surprisingly easy to use replacement for a traditional beam…

 

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