Daisypath - Anniversary

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Summer Cruise Day 13 Burscough to Aintree

We left Burscough at 9.20am this morning in cooler weather with the sun shining.  We stopped at the services to dispose of the rubbish and got under way.

Shortly after leaving and as we approached a bridge we heard the familiar "ting ting" of a bicycle bell.  This heralded the start of what was to be an immense group of cyclists going full pelt.  God help anyone walking as they would have been bowled over as they passed.

This is but a few of the cyclists
At Pinfold we came to Scarisbrick Marina and decided to pull in for some diesel.   It a small marina and the only place there was the coffee shop.  We had quite a wait until someone came along to fuel us.

Scarisbrick Marina coffee shop
 An unusual boat is located on the moorings here.  I'd hate to cruise this one as it has an extremely low free-board.  Looks like even the waves on the cut would be too much for it, however, it makes for a lovely home I would think

Barely 6 inches free-board on this house boat

For those of us moored in Tattenhall Marina, you think our entrance is tight try this one.  Room for only a 55 footer to swing, AmyJo  barely got in and out and took several shuffles to get round.  To make things more awkward there are iron railings on the banks either side with 90 degree corners as you exit.

Only 50 foot ahead and not much space to turn 
Back out on the cut and its more lovely countryside.  We passed the Saracen's head on the way and it looked inviting.  May be a stop for lunch on the way back.

At Hallsal on the approaches to Magull is this sculpture of a Canal Navvi can be found.  The stone sculpture by Thomson Dagnell is on the site where the first sod was cut for the canal on the 5th November 1770 by Col. Mordaunt. The Statue was unveiled 2006 to commemorate the work of the predominantly Irish "Navvies" (Navigators).  Unfortunately from this angle those with dirty minds may think the Navvy is not holding a shovel.

That is a shovel by the way, I checked.

Magull looked quite nice and the gardens and moorings well maintained.  Here the Mersey Motor Boat Club dominates with nearly all the long term mooring space owned by them.  Plenty of Yoghurt pots (sorry plastic cruisers, no offence intended) are moored along here

Some nice cruisers on well tended moorings.

One has to negotiate no less than 5 swing bridges in Magull.  The first two like this one arlectrified.  The only obstacle was the large group of canoeists that took ages to move so I could pass through.  It wasn't until I was almost about to run them down did they get out of the way.

At this point they were just launching and by the time I got there they were spread across the cut.

The cut is really nice along here

The next three bridges like this one are all manual.  Two are on minor housing estate roads and one a walk way.

This manual bridge serves only pedestrians

We saw several of these lovely garden benches along here.

 Once through Magull we were nearing our destination for the night.  Advised not to moor beyond Magull our mooring for the night was bridge 10 on the outskirts of Magull.  The canal here is over run with lilies and weed.  Only a narrow passage in the center is free where boats have passed.    We met another boat at some narrows and stopped to let him through and in doing so picked up some weed on the propeller.    A trip down the weed hatch when we moored up.

Lilies line either bank with barely room for boats to pass through
 Once moored I cleared the weed from the prop and also had to remove a huge clump wrapped round the bow too.  We had only been moored an hour when the sky darkened and rain fell, light at first then the heavens came down with a torrential downpour.  It got really dark and the clouds looked really angry.

Dark clouds and the rain began

Hammering it down and really black low cloud
With in a half hour the rain passed and the sun shone again, though more dark clouds were on the horizon.

Our mooring for the night at bridge 10 and a dark sky 

Tomorrow we complete our trip as we pass through Aintree, Bootle and Litherland before finally entering the docks.  We have to be at Bridge 9 for 9:30am so and early start is required.  C&RT only operate the swing bridge between 9:30 and 10:30 so we only have an hour window to get through so I want to be there early.

As I type I was reminded why we love this lifestyle so much.  This is my view out of the back hatch.  How can you not enjoy life watching this with a glass of red in your hand.

This is straight from the camera, no retouching.  I stood for ages watching the sun go down.
I feel so grateful for the life we have right now.

Total distance:13.22 miles Elapsed time:5h57m30s Locks:0 Bridges:35 
Average speed:2.22 mph (2.22 lock/mph) 

Friday, 21 July 2017

Summer Cruise Days 10 & 12 Plank Lane to Parbold then Bursough

Two days blogs in one tonight as we had a visit from daughter Amy last night so no time to sit and do the blog.

We pulled pins at 9.30am yesterday in a warm overcast sky.  Our first task was to fill with water by Plank Lane Bridge then go through.

Plank lane bridge with moorings for the water tap just behind where this was taken.

The bridge is electrified and easy to operate.  A local advised Chris not to open the bridge fully but if she removed her finger from the button the bridge would stop at that point.  With enough headroom AmyJo passed quickly through and the bridge lowered, all in less than 10 minutes.

Partially raised AmyJo passes under the bridge with just enough head room

After a few hours cruising through lovely countryside we approached the outskirts of Wigan.  This lake or flash being the last remnants of the country before reaching the city proper.

Wigan sailing club
 The locks as we approached Wigan looked old and the paddles locked with cuff keys to stop vandals draining the pounds.   After a bit of a struggle Chris got the lock set and we began our descent into Wigan.

Working the paddles having worked out how to unlock them.

The two double locks before we turned onto the Leigh branch were hard going and I had to help Chris close the gateseach time.  Water levels in the lower pounds were low too and every time I tried to bring AmyJo in to wait for Chris set the lock we stirred lots of rubbish up to the surface.  Luckily nothing found the propeller.

Low levels in the pound and been that way for a while by the looks of it
 After the second lock we turned left at the junction and continued our descent but now heading away from Wigan and its flight of 21 Locks.  AmyJo is too long for some of them anyway.  All the time there was the feel of rain in the air adding a gloomy feel to the place as we passed through.

After making the turn the lock at Henhurst bridge was better and the bottom gates had a geared arm and winding handle to open and close them.  This made things much easier for Chris.

Henhurst bridge Lock

Mechanical gate opening/closing mechanism.
The next thing we passed was the turn at Wigan Pier.  The approach to this is straight forward enough and the Wigan Pier Pub faces the turn.  Here we, or rather I, made a fau par and misread the Pearsons guide.  As we entered the turn I swung AmyJo to the right by mistake.   I should have turned Left!

Approach to Wigan Pier 
On doing so we came face to face with a dead end.  No choice for it but to wind AmyJo and get going the correct way.  All was going to plan until on reversing, we picked up a prop jockey that stalled the engine.     A little bit of wind was making the turn harder and was not helping.  Started up the engine, forward gear,  bit of a rumble and whatever we picked up thankfully came free.  The wind was really making things difficult but I was glad of AmyJo's 50hp engine and with a lot of extra power she swung round at last.

Oops not that way

Actually called the Orwell the pub is allegedly located on Wigan Pier though some would argue not.

But this little ballad would tell you otherwise.

Been there for a while by the looks of it

Leaving Wigan behind we cruised past the DW stadium which is home ground for Wigan Athletic F.C. and Wigan Warriors Rugby Club.  At this point we could see right inside and the seat in the far stand.  No match on today and the car parks were empty.

At Lock 89 before Crooke we think the lock gates are out of balance as a simple rod on a pivot and swivel is used to hold them in place when open or closed.  For some reason Smudge took a dislike to the rod and barked profusely at it, not stopping when told to.  His barking went on for several minutes until Chris pulled him away.  Even after that he stood legs spread glaring at it.

Barking and snapping at the rod.  Why we simply cannot fathom
 Crooke came and went in a blink as the canal skirted its flanks.  There looked a nice pub which we would have stopped at for lunch but there was nowhere to moor so we carried on.

Just after Gathurst lock 90 is situated almost under the M6 that towers high above.  The massive structure domineers the surroundings in what otherwise would have been quite pretty countryside.

M6 motorway in the sky

Waiting to Lock down under the M6 and a seat to enjoy the view

We followed a gent single handing from the lock to the first of two swing bridges.  He kindly opened the first bridge for us and then waited for us and a boat coming the other way to pass before he closed the bridge.

The single hander opened the bridge and then waited.

 At Appley bridge lock we met the same gent again with his Parsons Russel dog that looked like Smudge but brown in colour.  The dogs played together as we set the lock for a while then the other dog suddenly for no reason we could tell turned on Smudge snapping, snarling and pinning Smudge to the ground biting him on the neck.  Only quick reactions got Smudge out of harms way and the other dog calmed down.  Again we nor the owner could not fathom why the dog reacted as it did.  Fortunately no harm was done and Smudge was not injured at all.

We continued on our way and finally calling it a day at Parbold a couple of mile further on..

Approaching Parbold and our mooring for the night

Total distance:12.97 miles Elapsed time:7h40m57s Locks:8 Bridges:39 
Average speed:1.69 mph (2.73 lock/mph)

Today we woke to a rain leaden sky and the wind becoming quite gusty.  We decided to have a look round the village before continuing.  Parbold is a delightful place and judging from the number of executive cars, 4x4s and people carriers, quite opulent too.  This is re-enforced by the quite stylish shops, boutiques and accountancy offices that are around the village

A little sign says Parbold new town. 

This old windmill has now been converted into picture galleries.  Its situated alongside the bridge over the canal.  The 18th century windmill, the Mill House Gallery is James Bartholomew’s own gallery and home to his studio since 1997. James’ current paintings and the whole range of signed, limited edition prints can be viewed over three floors and in the adjoining mill building. All work is for sale.

After picking ups some lovely looking Beef and Ale pies from the local butchers we headed back to AmyJo and got under way.

 By now the wind was becoming quite strong but luckily the canal was sheltered from the many trees so not hindering us too much.  The rain was on and off all the tine so the canopy remained up and was welcome shelter from the wind when the trees did not hold it back.

We had to traverse two more swing bridges along the way.  I struggled to keep AmyJo under control whilst Chris operated the bridges.  On both occasions all went well but it was a bit of a job getting Chris back on board and keep AmyJo from being blown onto the bank.  On the last occasion a leap of faith was required.  I know stupid thing to do but it was the only way to get her back aboard.

Passing through the first swing bridge

Second swing bridge with C&RT work boat on the bridge landings beyond the moored boat.
 We passed the turn for the Rufford branch and wished AmyJo could make the trip as I bet it would be fun.  Sadly, again, her length prevents us doing so.  We cruised past kept going.
Quite an ornate bridge and the Rufford branch junction.

and a swing bridge just through it.
 The wind was now getting stronger making thing more difficult.  AmyJo put her weight into it and handled well but we were getting tired with all the work keeping her going.  At Burcough we found a nice spot to moor and so put down the pins for the day.

AinsCoughs mill greets you as you come into Burcough.
 The wind has been blowing all day with bouts of rain passing through all afternoon.  Apart from a walk to Tescos for a shop we've stayed hunkered down in AmyJo.   In a gap between showers I did manage to go down the weed hatch and pulled off loads of urban jelly fish remains  (shredded plastic shopping bags to you).

The forecast is improved for tomorrow so hopefully we can crack on towards Liverpool.  This leg of the canal seems to have gone on for ever but we've enjoyed it so far.  The next few days will see us into Salterhouse docks.

Incidentally we are now barely 12 miles from Southport and the furthest North AmyJo has ever been.  We've covered 82 miles by canal were as its only 24 miles by car to get here.

Our mooring for tonight in front of Ainscoughs Mill

Total distance:3.34 miles Elapsed time:1h31m43s Locks:0 Bridges:11 
Average speed:2.18 mph (2.18 lock/mph) 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Day 10 - Dunham Massey to Plank lane bridge

Are you sitting comfortably and do you have a drink handy as this post is a bit of  blogathon?

We knew we needed to cover some ground today to get through Sale and Stretford so up at 7am and underway by 8am.  All was quiet on the cut and so with no locks to hinder us today we soon made good time  At OIdfield Brow just before Sale is the site of the old Linotype works.  Hardly anything is left now as a new housing estate is emerging from the dereliction.

All that is left of the Linotype works.  New housing is being built the other side

Looks like they are going to redevelop this part of the works
 From here on the canal is as almost as straight as an arrow with only gentle sweeping curves barely noticeable as the canal is open and wide.  here are signs of new apartment blocks everywhere.  These ones built to minic a ship, the bows of which can be seen in this photo

Very curved walls in these apartment blocks
 Despite the shiny apartments nestled in between are still signs of the old industrial age left derelict like this warehouse.  The archway clearly shows it was serviced from the canal.  Would make for an interesting house conversion complete with boat house.

Old warehouse along new snazzy apartment blocks
 Did I say the canal was straight?  Sale was not at all what I expected.  We had been warned not to stop here.  But as you can see it looks quite pleasant but then what would it be like at night.


and on

and on

and still no corner in sight
After what seemed hours of dead straight cruising, waving back at those who waved to us, we were nearly out of Sale.   At least the folks here seemed pleasant enough.  Dog walkers, runners cyclist galore making good use of the near perfect, wide and tarmacked tow path. Several waved and said hello to us.  I actually quite like Sale, at least the bit along the canal that we saw. 

Almost the last of the straight section

Good use of the canal.  This is a brightly coloured craft is a Waxi.  A water taxi that runs along this stretch..
 Finally at Stretford the canal turns left and we pass under the two large road bridges and back out into the countryside.  Phew.

Two major roads meeting near a junction

Nearing Stretford Cruising club
 Next we passed Stretford Marina.  Looks quite good and secure here and the chandlers looked well stocked too.  We even got a wave from the proprietor too.  They like to wave at passing boats round here.

Stretford Marina

Offices and chandlers
 From here on the canal follows large industrial sites one after the other that went on for what seemed miles.  Many are new units and houses all sorts of businesses.  There were on occasions some wonderful smells inseminating from some.  A bakery and a sweet storage unit gave the best smells of all.

This view repeated itself for well over a mile
The Pearsons showed us that we would need to turn left at Waters Meeting junction.  I was really looking forward to this as I imagined it would be something to see.   In reality we nearly missed it as it looked like a side cutting dead end as we approached.  I gingerly swung AmyJo round into the turn wondering if this really was Waters Meeting junction.  Pearson's showed no other junction around here so it must be the junction we wanted but we still were not sure.  No signs heralded the junction by name and not even arrow signs pointing to Liverpool were to be seen.
Waters Meeting Junction.  Not a sigh or sign post to direct the boater
 It wasn't a dead end and so we kept going.  In fact it was not until we passed the Kellogg factory were we really sure we were on the right route.  We both breathed again and settled down to continue our journey.

Reassuring entrance to the Kellogg factory
 Again the canal is fairly straight and we just caught a glimpse of the Trafford Center before it vanished behind the trees again.  Not long after we came to a blind corner.  Edging round we found ourselves at the Barton Aqueduct that crosses the Shipping canal.

Blind corner with the aqueduct off to the right

Barton road bridge and in the distance Thelwall viaduct carries the M6 over the canal

The original control tower where all bridges were managed

Barton Road Bridge is alongside the Aqueduct.

Looking back at the aqueduct
Even though we are 30 miles from the coast, at Monton there is a lighthouse.  Built by Phil Austin it took him 3.5 years to build at a cost of £20,000.  His 36-foot tall weekend retreat, overlooking the moorings at Monton, has been worth it. Phil, 64, sold his canal boat to pay for his folly which will soon be fitted with a light to cast a beam on Monton Green. The lighthouse has three floors, the top of which has a 360 degree view. It also has a small office which Phil, of Half Edge Lane, Eccles, plans to use as a refuge from the bustle of everyday life.

Phil's Light house overlooking Monton
 By now we were noticing the canal was taking on a distinct orange colour a bit like the Trent and Mersey at Harecastle tunnel.  At Worsley all became clear.

Orange canal water approaching Worsley
 Worsley looked really pretty so we have resolved to stop there on our return Worsley is know as the home of the Bridgewater canal.  

The Bridgewater Canal was built because of the Duke of Bridgewater's coal mines at Worsley. The coal seams ran under the higher ground to the north. The Duke's land agent, John Gilbert, saw that it was possible to connect the canal directly to the mines by way of an underground canal. This in turn could be used to help with draining the mines, providing a source of water for the canal.
The underground canal was constructed from Worsley Delph, an old sandstone quarry near Worsley Brook. At one time a million tons of coal a year passed through this tunnel. To relieve congestion a second tunnel was constructed which met with the original about 500 yards in.

Around 47 miles of underground canals were constructed, on four different levels, connected by a water powered inclined plane and lifts. The main tunnels stretch as far north as Farnsworth, with side tunnels running at right angles along the coal seams.

Specially designed boats were used in the tunnels. These were only four and a half feet wide with protruding ribbed sides and so were given the nickname of "starvationers". These were loaded with coal at the coal face, were hauled from level to level on the inclined plane and brought the coal out onto the canal. The remains of one of these boats is seen near the entrance to the tunnels at Worsley Delph.

The entrance to the mine can be seen on the right of Worsley packet house

The mine exit to the canal
 From Worsley on there is not much to write about.  It runs through countryside and is very nondescript for several miles.  Its wide, weedless and has concrete banks with well maintained towpath and again in many placed dead straight, punctuated by the occassional bridge. 

One noteworthy item are these lock looking structures along the way, only 10 feet long.  In fact they are not locks per say but actually stop locks.  The canal is too wide to use the traditional stop planks and so these locks were constructed to dam the canal if needed.

Stop locks
 Bidgewater Marina is a welcome respite from the sameness of the canal and a nearby pub tempts the boater to a well earned pint and food.

Bridgewater Marina and day boats ready for the party revellers
A little further and the cause of the canal closure at the beginning of the season one passes under the new bridge across the canal.  Still being worked on even now.

Another mile and a second bridge carrying the A580 is nearing completion of its strengthening work.  Clearly much done whilst the canal was closed by the looks of it.

Extensive structural strengthening and a repaint on this bridge
 By late lunch time we were closing in on Bedford and Leigh.  Here the towns past cotton mill history still stands, all be it derelict, for the boater as they approach.  Even now they still dominate the skyline and must have employed thousands in their day.

 We had been told that the canal is regularly dredged and that is evident as we cruised with no silt being stirred up.  At Leigh this dredger was underway presumably to its next job.  The guy on the front relaying course corrections to the helmsman who could barely see where he was headed because of the crane.

At Leigh Bridge in the middle of town the Bridgewater canal ends and we join the Leeds Liverpool canal.  Only the sign on the bridge alerts the boater to this fact.  No lock just one sign.

Apparently there was no need of a stop lock here.
 At this bridge is located an Aldi Supermarket a stones throw away.  We stopped here and Chris nipped in to get some bread and other bits and pieces then we continued our journey.

This converted mill is now a trendy pub and is opposite Leigh bridge
We were now nearing our goal on this marathon of a cruise today.  Pennington Flash is a huge country park and we stopped here just before Plank Lane lift Bridge and a smart new marina. 

Pennington Flash

Five old lock gates make this interesting sculpture here.

Our mooring for the night

We settled down for the evening and when we looked at our GPS logs were surprised to find we had cruised just short of 20 miles in 7 hours today!  That is a record for us but its not surprising.  The Bridgewater is very wide and deep.  Over the whole trip we rarely had to slow down and of course there have been no locks to slow us down.  It also means we can now make our target of Liverpool for Sunday too.

Total distance:19.55 miles Elapsed time:6h57m24s Locks:0 Bridges:59 
Average speed:2.81 mph (2.81 lock/mph)