Saturday, 30 August 2014

Liverpool, Crosby & Southport

Out and about the last few days.

Jelly fish on the beach


Blackpool in the distance

Finally some blue sky

The obstacle course around Albert Dock
Liverpool from the sky (well the radio tower)

Zooming in and found Triskaideka in the dock

The Anglican Cathederal

Tobacco Warehouse that we came past on our route into the docks

(phone photo, through the heavy rain!)

A catch up!

Sometimes, there are just not enough hours in the day!  We have been rather busy since our arrival in Liverpool.  What a fantastic city and not just because it is my home town.

Bank holiday Monday was forecast as a washout, and it was. Cold, wet at times, but above all, very windy.  We watched boats crabbing past us and thought, No....  So we sat put, caught up with a few domestic chores and chilled out.  There was little point moving.

Tuesday saw us on our way mid morning.  It was still a tad breezy, but less so than the previous day. We made our way towards Liverpool, for the scheduled meet with the lad's from CRT the next morning. It was a pleasant trip.  The natives were friendly apart from one "lady" driver who objected to Ali closing the barrier in order to operate the swing bridge.  As there were a fair number of such bridges in Maghull, Ali walked the towpath.  This made life a lot easier for me as well, as the wind was still strong and getting off the bank was something of a trial at times.

The canal into Liverpool seems rather cleaner than when we last visited.  Very little litter visible. By mid afternoon we had arrived at the moorings just prior to Hancock's swing bridge and settled in for the day.  Two other boats joined us to await the morning convoy.

Miles 9
Swing bridges 7

On Wednesday morning we were up bright and early and ready for the off.  Several other narrowboats arrived at the moorings, along with two  cruisers,  As they are somewhat quicker, they took the lead when the bridge was swung open by the lads from CRT.  And so we began the journey in. Once again, we were impressed by the cleanliness of the water and the canal environs.  It was very quiet on the towpath though. We were lead narrowboat, which gave us a distinct advantage on the prop foul front. We took it rather steady and apart from the odd plastic bag which was removed with a quick reverse, had no need to visit the weed hatch.

We were soon at the top of the Locks which descend into the docks.  Passage down these was easy thanks to Sid and the CRT team and we were soon making passage through the Link. One difference from last time was that Princess lock is now operated for you, rather than the diy job it was previously. Good job really, as the wind had really got up by this time. By the time we had passed the "Three Graces" and arrived at Mann Island lock, it was blowing a hooley.  We had difficulty holding the boat whilst we awaited the CRT lad's to work us through and all the others in the convoy had the same problems.  Once down the two Canning dock's and Albert dock were negotiated without problems. Well apart from the floating obstacles forming part of the coming weekend events that is. But as we passed under the bridge into Salthouse and the mooring pontoons, the wind really took hold.

My intention was to go into the mooring bow first, for ease in the wind.  It soon became apparent that the boat was heading sideways at some rate of speed.  Plan B came into effect.  Using all the engine power I could muster, I reversed and turned the boat. Our designated mooring was beside an already moored boat. With a lot of engine rev's, more through luck than any skill on my part, I managed to reverse into the mooring without touching the pontoon, or the other boat. As we were securing the boat, Jane and Paul arrived, talk about good timing!

Miles 10
Locks 6
Swing bridges  0 ( As CRT did them!)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

A Hop, a skip and a Sunday Roast.

The day dawned well, with wispy cloud, blue sky and warmth from the rising sun.  We did not rush our departure as our intended destination was not too far and we had no locks to tackle,  But we did have a number of swing bridges!

Another wash load completed just prior to our arrival at the first swing bridge of the day that needed working, Spencer's Bridge.  This is key operated and Ali after a little head scratching soon had it sussed.  None of these are the same to work, some have automatic barriers, some are manual.  Since our last visit, one is now fully electrically operated, whereas before it was part manual.

We soon passed the rather grand entrance to the Rufford arm, no diversion down this time.

Anyway, we were soon into Burscough, which has brilliant facilities. ( Read that as water, elsan and rubbish)  Quite a nice place. The moorings were empty, which is somewhat surprising over a bank holiday weekend.  They also allow you to stop for an hour, so plenty of time for a quick supermarket and Bakery shop. Once loaded up, we resumed our journey west.....

Looks like this mill is being renovated

Ambush & Viktoria - Ainscough working boats - open weekend at Burnscough, you can see the size of these boats in relation to Triskaideka on the left - 72' x 14'

Until, a few hundred yards out of town we encountered what proved to be a massive angling match! Now I do like to drown the odd maggot, but this was a match.  The competitors were very intense and somewhat resented our presence.  The fact that they all fish using " Roach Poles" which extend right across the canal can be intimidating, as they only lift them as the bow is almost touching them!  We were taking bets when we would clout one, but they have a sixth sense it appears.  Every bend we thought that was it, but no, miles of them.  At one stage several boats appeared in convoy approaching us.  These must have left Liverpool together, and worked the swing bridges between them.  One was a wide beam, whose occupiers were obviously not happy.  As they passed us, they shouted to the anglers that they were mooring up!  Bet that was fun!  We think this went on for three miles.  Three miles on tick over.  At least we were subject to a sort of compliment when one angler  said we should train others to pass, which we took as complimentary to our speed and positioning.

Finally, we left the anglers behind, and then came almost a mile of moored boats.  So good fuel consumption today!

Approaching Scarisbrick bridge, we debated about topping up with fuel. There was a source just after the bridge, Red Lion Caravan Centre, but it is no more, being replaced by hard stands for mobile homes.  So we turned into Scarisbrick marina and topped up the tank.  The gent there was very pleasant and helpful, which is more than can be said of the staff in the cafe when Ali enquired about obtaining fuel.  Topped up and back onto the cut the sky in the west looked somewhat threatening, with a large, dark bank of cloud getting ever nearer.  Good job we had not far to go.  We managed to moor just prior to Halsall Warehouse bridge, secured the decks for storms and the cloud passed over with not a drop of precipitation. 

 The sky behind

and infront - the clouds gathering

In celebration of our escape from a soaking and because we were starving, we jumped ship and went to the Saracens Head for a roast dinner.

And very nice the meal was to.  So now chilling and waiting to see what the new day will bring weather wise. Not looking that good, but then our faith in forecasters is not good, so we will await the day before deciding on our plans.

Miles 10
Swing bridges 4.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Almost Bridge Hoppers!

Today dawned wet, cold and bleak.  When I awoke, the rain was hammering on the roof, so I turned over and went back to sleep! Ali never stirred....

At 0700, I awoke.  Something of a lie in for me.  It was still raining and perusing the various weather sites did not bode well for the day.  But, it did look better for the afternoon, so we sat tight for the morning and lo and behold, the wind dropped, the sun came out and we experienced a phenomenon rare of late, warmth from the sun!

So early afternoon we pulled up the pins, dropped the now dry pram hood and set off.

We are pacing ourselves somewhat.  We are booked in for the assisted passage into Liverpool next Wednesday, but we always build in a little contingency time.  Monday has been forecast as Torrential rain, light showers and a plague of frog's depending on which weather site you look at.  So the plan is to be at the meet for the passage Tuesday evening, but flexible between now and then.

But it is not that far.  So we will have to pace ourselves.  But one lock today and we were in Parbold before the engine was warm.  Visitor mooring free, so in we went. 

What a very pleasant place this is. After a walk around the village, we had a snack at the rather nice cafe Canal side at bridge 37D, another walk, then an ice cream from the same somewhat strangely named place (  ).  We thought we had the place and establishments for a meal tonight sussed.

Back to the boat and chilled out.

Just after 1900, we decided we were peckish. We had decided that the nearest hostelry looked somewhat unprepossessing from the exterior, but Ali Googled it and it looked rather good. So we went to the Windmill.

It was brilliant!  One of the best meals we have had this summer.  Only to be expected in this rather up market village.  Well worth a re visit.

So we sit back on the boat, well podged, warm and happy with a rather nice glass of wine to finish off the evening.

So at the mo, we are Bridge Hoppers of sorts!

Miles  4.5
Locks 1
Swing bridges 1

Friday, 22 August 2014

Onto the Leeds & Liverpool (Leigh Branch)

Yesterday we made a leisurely start from our mooring at Worsley.  It was once again unseasonably chilly.  This section now passes through an old industrial area, subject to much mining over the years. This has led to the land subsiding.  To counter this, the canal banks have been raised to maintain the water level, giving it a somewhat elevated aspect.

It is not unpleasant, with nature making a remarkable recovery.  The old industrial landscape has been landscaped and has now mellowed and greened up.  We were soon passing Astley, with its pit gear still standing proud as part of a museum and then onto Leigh. This is the terminus of the Bridgewater and the start of the Leigh branch of the L&L.  It also has a somewhat hidden Bridgewater services block!  This is beside Butt's Bridge.  It is not marked in our Nicholson's for some reason, but we spied it when last here.  Quick stop, then another a little further on in order to do a small Aldi shop for essentials.

Out of Leigh we approached Plank lane lift bridge.  This is key operated and on a surprisingly busy road.  The basin built beside it remains something of a white elephant and remains empty, although it will soon be overlooked by housing, the building of which is well underway.  This is also the site of one of the locks lost due to subsidence and the adjustment of the levels.  Soon through and out into more pleasant countryside and Pennington "Flash", a lake owing its origins to the same problems, and the scene of boyhood fishing trips!

We moored at Dover bridge, site of another lost lock and warmed up.  Here we met and had a chinwag with John from Gemma Joy and very nice it was to meet him and put a face to a name.  Cheers John.

Whilst it had been chilly, (so chilly Ali got her woolly hat and scarf out) we had no rain until the late evening, when it persisted it down, on and off all night. I woke at 0600 and still it rained, but by 0700, the clouds had cleared and the sun shone....

Miles  10
Lift bridge 1

Today the sun shone most of the day although it did chill somewhat late afternoon when the cloud increased.  We needed to do a spot of washing. Now we have a washer/dryer onboard. This works when the "Travel power" is on, giving us 240v from the engine.  To maintain this output and keep things running sweetly, it really needs to run at 1200 rev's when the heater cycle  is on.  This can be a pain if you have to stop for any reason, so we completed this before setting off as the rest of the wash is less energy demanding.  We tend not to use the dryer at this time of year if we can.  We have a heat exchanger, which uses excess engine heat to warm the radiators. With this on and the clothes hung on them, they were dry by the end of the day, so result!


So we set off on the last lock free section finishing off the washing.  In no time we were in the suburbs of Wigan, passing the rather lovely Scotsman's and Pearson's flashes and then onto the first locks of the day, the two Poolstock locks.  These we had to ascend and as they are wide locks and we were alone, always set a challenge. There were two boats ahead of us and they kindly set the second lock in our favour as they left, so soon up.  Then into central Wigan and a left turn at the junction towards Liverpool.  We now begin the descent, which is far easier.  Dropping down the first lock brought us to the CRT offices which have moorings, a water point and a rubbish disposal.  We filled the tank and Ali went in to purchase some electric cards for use in Liverpool.  Good news here.  As apparently some of the posts are faulty and give free electricity, as one did for us on our last visit, instead of fixing them, they gave us free cards! (Apparently because people have been complaining that they have had to pay for their electricity whilst some of the posts are not working and therefore others have been receiving free electricity, so until they are fixed they are giving out cards to activate the post free!)   Armed with these, we set off down the next locks and out of Wigan.

It had been our intention to stop at Crooke, but it did not appeal, so we dropped down Dean lock and have moored in truly beautiful isolation just before Fishers swing bridge.  Woods on one side, meadow and river to the other, wonderful.  Doubly so, since the area is alive with Kingfishers.

So mid afternoon we were stopped and I had my customary nap!  I say customary, but over the last few days this has become the norm for me.  Must be my age!  Ali says I snore, but I find that very hard to believe!!!!!

But where are the boats?  We have seen only half a dozen moving all day!

Miles 8
Locks 7