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

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