Tag Archives: Leeds & Liverpool

Day 57 – Swinging Around

We left at the agreed time of 8.30 with Neil, Christine and woofy Layla on nb Comfortably Numb. There was some urgency today, as we had 9 swing bridges, one of which is only open from 9.30 to 2.30pm and then after 6pm.

We had a good system with each boat taking it in turns to do the swing bridges. Each one was different, some were manually operated, some were completely electric and one half and half. I had the luck of the half and half, I turned my key and the alarms started and the barriers dropped. At that point I’m expecting the swing bridge to open (with a queue of cars on both sides). Nothing happens, I look at Toby on Oliver and say it’s not working, he looks back at me as if to say ‘what do you expect me to do?’, a window then opens fro the house next to the bridge, and a chappie sticks his head out and says ‘it’s a manual lift love, you’ll need to push it’ !!

I just loved these frogs on the roof of a house extension.

As our journey continued, the lilies seem to guide us with a route just big enough for a narrowboat. The conurbations increased, with lots of folk out walking, cycling and enjoying the towpath.

Toby on Oliver, and Neil and Christine on Comfortably Numb waiting in formation for the swing bridge to open.

We moored up at 1.45 at Litherland moorings. There was only one space left so we breasted up. There was a huge Tesco just behind us, so a quick lunch and then it was playtime in the supermarket! We both felt like foreigners with the scouser accent all around us. £80 later (including two tubs of ice cream) and we were back on board.

Tomorrow we head in to Liverpool and through the various docks docks mooring in Salthouse Docks. Toby has read up on the skippers guide, we’re so looking forward to tomorrow.

Day 56 – Tired and Grumpy

We woke up tired after all the excitement of yesterday’s crossing – you can probably tell from the look on our faces!

We weren’t grumpy, but the long line of fishermen having a competition weren’t best pleased when not one but two narrowboats came past. It was even better when a large group on a sponsored bike ride came along – one cyclist was nearly taken out as the fisherman pulled his pole in to avoid us, without looking to see what was coming behind him!

We’d arranged yesterday to go up the locks and through the swing bridges with Neil and Christine on Comfortably Numb. We started off a bit before them, so we had time to do a pump out, fill up with diesel, and replace a gas cylinder. After that, we met up at the first lock and soon got through the flight up the Rufford arm. Some of the side paddles have a corkscrew-type mechanism which is a bit unusual.

We got through the locks without any problems, there were no signs of anybody else moving other than us until we reached the main branch of the Leeds and Liverpool. The sky was gradually brightening, and the drizzle soon gave way to sunshine.

We started looking for somewhere to stop and have some lunch, but everywhere was either full or not so appealing, so we ended up having lunch on the go and eventually found a lovely spot by bridge 27, next to a garden with a jasmine hedge that smells wonderful!

As we were moored up in good time, it was time for some jobs. There’s been a funny smell around the pantry for ages but it’s slowly got worse, so enough was enough! Out came the chest of drawers and it was eventually tracked down to some old waste-water pipes from a dishwasher, long since removed. I gave those a good clean out and taped up the ends; fingers crossed that’s nailed it.

Sarah did some washing and made some chocolate brownies – which gave me a rather nicer job to do, namely cleaning the bowl and spatula. Well someone had to do it!

Day 36 – Into Every Life A Little Rain Must Fall

Last night there was a  lovely sunset as we walked back from The Rufford Arms to see Oliver bathed in the evening glow.

Toby and Sarah have had a few wet weeks and today they had to part company for a while.

Sarah changed the tiller for a steering wheel and set off to Oxford in Zena just after 9:30.  Tears fell like falling rain – but not for long as Toby was so looking forward to a week with his Mum and particularly with his Dad.

The new crew cast off just after 10:00 on a very leisurely trip to Tarleton.  Peter helmed the whole way with consummate skill neatly dropping the crew on and off so they could perform all their duties without risk to life or limb.  That was pretty arduous considering there were all of two swing bridges before tying up at Tarleton.

There we found a good mooring on bollards just before the very large Tarleton Boatyard which occupies a long stretch of what would be the towpath right up to the lock.

The lock itself is a little unusual as it has an extra gate to hold back high tides.  We are a bit concerned that Oliver will not fit between the gates!

We were not sure what the state of the tide was when we were at the lock and it looks as if Toby decided to do some serious calculations to ensure our safe passage into the River Douglas.

The weather was pretty good until we decided to go for a walk around the village which turned out to have a lot more shops than we anticipated.  The rain was only short lived and the sun soon reappeared and we walked back to Oliver along the towpath.

Peter cooked an excellent pork, apple and cider casserole for dinner and now plans to take a rest for the remainder of the trip.

We loved these Crested Ducks that swam around Oliver close to our mooring.

Day 35 – New Crew

Today we’re planning to take on new crew, in the form of my parents. Tomorrow Sarah will head back to Oxford for her supercharge drips – a whole week with the in-laws was clearly too much!

We’ll be on the Ribble Link on Monday, so this morning I checked the coolant and oil levels to make sure the engine is in good nick before we have to go out on the river. All looks good, phew!

We needed to get through one more lock and fill up with diesel and water, and empty the poo tank. It was really windy turning into the marina, and looked a bit hairy for a moment but we got in ok in the end. Talking of hairy, Sarah’s hair was looking rather windswept too!

Whilst we were in the marina filling up, we met Colin who has his boat there. Colin was on the River Avon last year, and found a camera that a certain person had left behind at a lock. After much palava, camera and owner were happily reunited. What a coincidence to find him here, and just when Mum and Dad are joining us too! He’s also going on the Ribble Link to Lancaster, so we may meet again.

Having filled up, we then met up with my parents and had a lovely lunch on board.

It’s Mum’s birthday today, so we also enjoyed some birthday cake, yum!

Suitable replenished, Sarah drove us in Zena (Mum and Dad’s campervan) to the nearby National Trust’s Rufford Old Hall. We had a walk around the gardens where they have some topiary “squirrels”, and then the house itself. Of course, we also had to visit the tea room where I had a brownie and Dad had an Eccles cake – warmed and with butter melted on the top. Mum and Sarah enjoyed a pot of tea.

We then returned to Oliver’s mooring so Mum and Dad could unpack and settle in, and then tonight we’re out for dinner at The Ruford Hotel for Mum’s birthday.

Day 34 – What A Difference A Day Makes

We woke up to more rain tip-tapping on the roof, and decided the best place was to stay in bed in the warm! We did eventually surface and I could wait no longer, Toby needed a hair cut – what do you think? The front cratch doubled up quite well as our very own barbers.

We cast off around 11am to dry and warm weather, it lifted our spirits no end (I admit to being thoroughly grumpy by the end of yesterday and the continued rain) . The lock in the photo below was interesting with quite an overflow after the lock, which called for full throttle and a steady hand.

There were a number of swing bridges, some electric, some hand operated and some with little use.

It felt like we were back in the countryside today, with sweeping views and quite a number of fields ready for sowing.

We turned on to the Rufford Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to be confronted with a swing bridge and a lock, I jumped off but no matter which way I pushed/pulled the swing bridge, it just wouldn’t budge. Toby had to come to my rescue on that one – much to the amusement of the gongoozlers on the bridge.

We’ve had quite an assortment of paddles on these locks, some were like a corkscrew and others that had long wooden handles that you had to lift – I wasn’t so keen on those, it was a bit near to the waters edge for my liking.

We moored up at 5.15, in the middle of nowhere but still had 4G! Toby started up the dremmel which made light work of cutting through the old padlock. The new padlock is much shorter, so if Toby does the same thing again, we can easily spin it round.

Day 33 – Tomorrow’s Forecast Looks Better

We departed promptly at 0930 this morning, as the swing bridge is closed for rush hour between 0800-0930 and we weren’t getting up that early! It seems everyone had the same idea, as we had another boat coming the other way just after us, and then another one came up behind us too. We only saw one other boat on the move all day after that little flurry.

Whilst waiting to pick Sarah up, I spotted some crayfish(?) hanging out on the water’s edge along with some other little fish. We decided not to have them for our dinner though.

There might not have been many boats out today, but we did see some hobies having a little race on a lake just across from the canal; their sails brightened up the day nicely.

Sarah did all the lock work today and everything was sopping wet, so she gets a magic beansprout for her hard work. It barely stopped raining all the time we were on the go.

Any fans of the “If Carlsberg did… ” advertising campaign would love this boat! Their famous tag line started back in the 70s and is still in use this decade.

Not too far to Liverpool from here – but we’re going via Lancaster so will take us over a month!

Every trip we still seem to come across some new contraption devised to (allegedly) make it easier to open paddles / gates. This one opens the gate using a curved rack and pinion type arrangement, which seemed to work well.

We went past Wigan Pier today. No sign of the beach though! At the end there’s an old covered wharf, still in use by a pair of boats. Sarah was ashore trying to find the C&RT offices – which we eventually did, but they were all closed up for the day it seemed.

Fun fact about Wigan – it’s the home of Heinz’s baked bean factory, the largest food factory in Europe, churning out 450 million cans a year of baked beans (plus lots of other stuff too!).

After passing through Wigan, we went past Wigan Athletic’s DW football stadium, and were a little bemused to see two policemen launch a drone and do a quick fly-by of the area. No idea what they were looking for, but they flew the drone pretty high, and far away enough that we lost sight of it entirely. Then the rain got a lot heavier and they quickly got the drone back and hurried to their car!

All in all it the wet and dreary weather is starting to get a bit tedious – here’s what we think of it!

Each day I check the forecast and it always looks like it’s getting better, so I tell Sarah it’ll be better tomorrow – but it never seems to work out that way. But tomorrow, surely this time, it will be better! The BBC says it will be by the afternoon at least, and for once the Met Office seem to agree with them.

Day 32 – The Water Wombles

It feels a bit like groundhog day with another wet and cold start. I don’t think I’ve used my hot water bottle as much as this holiday!

We were quite impressed with The Bridgewater Canal and their maintenance teams, one was resurfacing the path, and the other with a wonderful name of the Water Womble, was scooping out all of the rubbish and weed.

These waxis (water taxis) looked a bit out of place, sadly they’re no longer running. We stopped in Leigh, Toby walked to B&Q to purchase a new padlock (more on that in a bit), and I had fun in Tesco, perusing the goodie aisle, when I should have been in the fruit and veg aisle. We saw a dessert called a Manchester Tart in the pub yesterday, I asked if they sold them and sadly not. I was somewhat apprehensive googling Manchester Tart when I got back to the boat.

We soon passed the sculpture at Pennington Flash, with old lock gates with the word unlock. This is somewhat ironic as Toby has managed to shut the padlock on the water tank, and we’re unable to spin it round to get the key in. We’ve tried cutting it with a hacksaw, next will be the dremmel, failing that we’ll have to buy a pair of bolt cutters. Luckily we have another way of filling the tank.

We stopped for water before Plank Lane lift bridge. Why is it always me who looks like the wet soggy womble??

We planned to move back 100m or so for the day as it’s quite a busy road – easy right? I was ashore with the centre rope, I looked back and saw Toby had left the water connector on the tap, I threw the rope back and it missed and dropped in the water. Toby walked along the side of the boat to retrieve it, by which time Oliver is diagonal across the canal. A burst of forward, and then a burst of reverse and nothing, there was something around the prop. Toby managed to get the boat alongside on the offside, I was able to walk round as it was a housing estate. The breadknife to the rescue, and Toby cut away a bomber jacket. We moored the other side, and used the very same breadknife (washed of course!) to cut the bread for lunch. We finished with a much needed bag of rhubarb and custard squashies – after passing the swizzle factory, it felt like a compulsory purchase.

We were all alone until the local fishing club arrived and have a match until 9.15 – we’re surrounded by them. We can see chaps under umbrellas and long fishing rods passing the bow.