Thursday, 31 May 2012

Liverpool. Must do and a fantastic city.

Liverpool is a fab city. We have had a great day going around the museums. Now as a native, you are right to think that a certain amount of prejudice is involved here. Well no. I left Liverpool in the 70's, when it was in steep decline and the infrastructure was abysmal. The undoubted history was being demolished and the heart was being torn from the city.

So what happened?

Liverpool seized it's history and heritage. Preserved that which was good and remained. Added modern buildings that sat juxtaposed to them adding to the vista, and made a city that all who reside here should be more than proud of.  Seldom have we been anywhere that is so clean and friendly.  Be proud Liverpool. You deserve it.

So today we have visited the cultural heritage. Visiting the Walker art Gallery, and several museums.  The high points were the exhibition of the slave trade.  What a shameful episode in our history this was.  Very moving.  How can we hold our heads up high after this.  But, we cannot answer for our ancestors!

The Rolf Harris exhibition was also a revelation.  The man is brilliant, but view from a distance to get the best perspective.

Tonight we went out for a meal and then walked along the sea front.  The scenes speak for themselves. Tomorrow we will shop then chill, before meeting my cousin Brian and family.  Really looking forward to that.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Liverpool Link into Salthouse Dock

Yesterday we cruised from Burscoe to Melling, it was quiet pleasant cruise, through open countryside, we passed Scarisbrick Marina which looks 3/4 empty despite being open a few years.  There are lots of linear moorings along the canal and cruising club moorings.  One one of which we had a 'through the hatch' conversation with fellow blogger Debbie from NB Tickety Boo.  The five swing bridges were all different in operation and one the road was so busy that I couldn't even get across the road to operate it.  Last night we moored near Melling along with the other boats undertaking the Liverpool Link this morning.

This morning we left our mooring and cruised the last mile to our meeting point with BW.  There was a little confusion when the BW guys arrived as there were 6 boats but one was a wide beam, the norm is only 6 boats down the link at once, a wide beam counting as 2 so there were too many boats.  A few phone calls and everything was cleared for us all to continue.  The BW guys opened the first swing bridge and we were on our way.  There were three narrow boats in front of us, us, then the widebeam followed by two more narrow boats, we were glad we were in front of the wide beam due to the amount of rubbish and weed in the canal.  We passed Aintree Race course and could see the jumps through the hedge.  By the time we met BW at the next swing bridge the wide beam and the others were no where to be seen, we were let through the bridge and we continued.  We then cruised through Litherland and Bootle.  The canal was not as bad as we expected, we did have to reverse a few times to clear the prop but fortunately we did not have to go down the weed hatch, but all three of the other boats with us did.  We met up the the BW guys again at Stanley Lock flight where they helped us down.  We then were asked to make our way through the docks to Princess Dock Lock, which had been set for us, however when we left the lock we had to reset it for the boats behind as there is no pontoon or anything for anyone to get off their boat to work the lock.  It was amazing travelling through the docks, the large expanse of water with huge derelict buildings on either side makes you feel very small.  We headed through Stanley Dock, Collingwood Dock, and Salisbury Dock at the Victoria Clock Tower we turned left and headed through the new channel towards Princess Dock.  This gave us a great view of the Liver Buildings and the Three Graces.  As we passed through Princess Dock there was a Cruise Ship moored on the Mersey, its the Caribbean Princess (I think), its huge.  We then passed down towards the new Museum, not often we feel like a tourist attraction, but as it was a nice day, there were loads of people around and talking to us, we then passed under the new tunnels into Mann Island Lock where we were met again by the BW guys, the levelled the lock and we thanked them for their help.  We cruised through Canning Dock into Albert Dock and onto our mooring in Salthouse Dock.

The convoy going through the first swing bridge

Down the Stanley Lock Flight

 Towards the Victoria Clock Tower

Cruise ship on the right

Down to Princes Dock

Under the Museum

Into Albert Dock

Jelly fish in the dock

Isle of Mann Ferry dwarfed by the Cruise Ship

Tuesday 13 miles 0 locks 5 swing bridges
Wednesday 11 miles 6 locks 2 swing bridges

Monday, 28 May 2012

To the River Douglas and return

Yesterday we continued our journey down the Rufford Branch to Tarleton.  After mooring we went to look at the lock down onto the River Douglas which is where boats go out onto the river to make their journey across the Ribble Link to the Lancaster Canal.  It wasn't high tide and the river had a good flow on it, we had a look later when the tide was higher and it was a much stronger flow.

Last night we met up with Johns cousin, Ian, who lives in Tarleton, they have not seen each other for about 35 years, but they managed to make up for it as the conversation flowed all night.  I don't think it will be another 35 years before they meet again.  We had a really good evening.

Today we retraced our journey back along the Rufford Branch, we did leave the locks until later so it wasn't so hot and fortunately it wasn't as windy as we still have no bow thrusters.  We have turned towards Liverpool and have moored west of Burscough.

A peep of Rufford Old Hall

River Douglas

To the right the River Douglas to the left the canal

Sunday 4 miles 3 swing bridges
Monday 8.5 miles 7 locks 7 swing bridges (2 automated and 5 manual)

Saturday, 26 May 2012

To Wigan and beyond !

Yesterday we had an early start in order to beat the commuter time that closes Plank Lane bridge between 8am & 9:30 am.  We were up at 6am and off at 6:45 on a fine but windy morning.  We had a pleasant cruise into Wigan sharing the last couple of locks with another boat.  We moored outside the BW Offices and went for a walk into Wigan Town Centre, its much of a muchness with other towns, not unpleasant.  We returned to the BW offices met Linda, who has been really helpful, purchased a couple of electricity cards and got our Skippers Guide for the Liverpool Link.  We then continued our journey through and out of Wigan mooring for the day at Appley Bridge.

Today we awoke to sunny skies but hight winds.  Just what you want as the coutryside flattens out with no barrier to shelter from the wind.  We continued along through Parbold and turned onto the Rufford Arm, stopping at lock/bridge 1 for water, thats interesting! not ideal place for a water point when heading the way we were, and by the way (for fellow boaters the elsan/pump out point is closed now).  We set off down the 7 locks and discovered at lock 1 that our bow thruster had ceased to be.  It was an ex-bow thruster, dead as a parrot!  The winds were now increased (gale force?) from the east which made lock approaches shall we say - interesting, with or without a bow thruster.  These locks are big, the winding gear odd, and yet again very little traffic, which made for hard work on a hot a day.

We have moored for the evening at Rufford, after a rest and shower we have walked up past Rufford Old Hall (which we couldn't see) to the Rufford Arms  where we had a lovely meal and a few drinks to rehydrate ourselves!  Felt somewhat under dressed compared with the other clientèle but hey ho!  We then walked back down Liverpool Road to see if we could see the Old Hall from the otherside (which we couldn't) and partook of a swift one in the Hesketh Arms.

Hindsight yet again, why didn't we specify a weed hatch in the bow thruster tube!

Plank Lane

 Anyone any ideas as to the huge winding hole or what is it going to be?

Lots of flashes along the way

Wigan Pier 

Its like being at home, you can see for miles!

I let 2 horses over one of the swing bridges before closing it, but one refused to go over, no amount of kicking it on, worked, in the end a lady come out of the cottage and gave it a carrot and led it over, why the lady riding it didn't get off and lead it across I have no idea

 We passed this today, an iron age round house?

with a wooden henge in the garden and lots of  carved statues??

Great use for a dead tree an owl box on it

Friday 9 miles 8 locks 3 swing bridges
Saturday 8 miles 8 locks 3 swing bridges

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Nearly a Bridge to Far.

We left our mooring in Lymm this morning with a little high cloud bubbling up. This soon evaporated into another of those 76 type days, (1976 for the youngsters). We have set ourselves something of an agenda over the next few days as we have to get to the Wigan B.W. offices before they close at 1200 tomorrow, in order to collect a skippers guide for the Link, as we are unable to print it out. With that in mind, we decided that we needed to get past Leigh today.

We managed to get water and empty the elsan soon after leaving Lymm and then enjoyed the weather and scenery on the journey into Manchester.  The initial parts are surprisingly rural and the long straight through Sale is wide and deep.  The whole journey was thoroughly enjoyable, but almost void of any boat traffic.  What happened to all those deserting the arid south for more temperate climes?  I think we saw only three boats moving the opposite direction to ourselves on the complete journey and met only one going our way, N.B Ferndale.

Doing a left at waters meet, we were soon at Trafford Park, and we know what that means, retail therapy for Ali in the Trafford centre.  I stayed on the boat!

Crossing over the Barton swing Aqueduct, I was surprised how small it appeared, albeit a fantastic piece of engineering.  The last time I visited this was 40+ years ago on a school trip and it appeared so much bigger then.  Passing through Worsley reminded me of the same trip long ago and it remains a quaint place.  Then through Leigh with its mills still looming over the town, now sadly neglected but harking back to the industry that made this area, King cotton.  Coal was the other industry of the area and whilst the pit heads are gone and the tips landscaped into nature reserves, their legacy is still imprinted in the landscape.  Lakes (flashes) caused by subsidence can be seen from the canal, which itself is raised on an embankment now.  There is a feeling of the lost industry in this area, although mother nature aided by mans endeavours has healed many of the scars.

We arrived at Plank lane by about 1830 and moored prior to it and just out of its direct sight.  Our Nicholson guide is somewhat out of date as we had been led to believe this was a manned crossing which closed at 1800 this time of year.  We walked up and found that this is now operated by a B.W. key, the man is now history!  Adjacent to the bridge is a large new I suppose winding hole, or possible a small marina?  A lot of money seems to have been spent for no readily apparent reason creating this.  The sign on the bridge operating instructions stated that it must remain closed from 0800-0930 to allow commuter traffic to take precedence, so in order to get to Wigan before our deadline, it is looking like an early start in the morning.  Sorry Ali, but promise we will stop early!

And I did not get my pint at the end of the day, as the pub near the bridge in our Nicholsons, is gone and I do not mean just closed, it has been demolished and all trace removed.  Bugger.

The small bridge in the distance is the M6, know where I would rather be!

Converted Mill

Long straight approaching Sale/Stretford

Barton Aquaduct carrying the Bridgewater Canal over the Manchester Ship Canal



The view from our mooring tonight

19.5 miles no locks or tunnels