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|
|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 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.|
|Approach to Wigan Pier|
|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|
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|
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.|
|Quite an ornate bridge and the Rufford branch junction.|
|and a swing bridge just through it.|
|AinsCoughs mill greets you as you come into Burcough.|
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|