Tag Archives: Bridgewater

Day 70 – Argee Bargee In The Tunnel

A pre agreed cast off this morning of 8.15 as the first of three tunnels only allows passage for ten minutes on the half hour. We were again prepared for rain although not for the wind, we had quite a job keeping the brolly from turning inside out.

Despite the cloudy skies, the scenery has improved today, with everything looking even more lush with all the rain.

Preston Brook was our first tunnel, and I did the steering. In the first shot, I was a little close to the left hand side and the brickwork, hence the somewhat concerned face – my steering and facial expressions definitely improve.

Toby steered in the next tunnel which was also a timed entry, we were following an old puffer narrowboat with a horn that sounded like a very old Downtown Abbey era car. The third tunnel was a free for all with whoever gets there first. The boat in front sounded his amazing horn and entered the tunnel, so we followed, we then heard another horn from a boat who had entered after us from the other direction. To and fro they went with their horns, so we thought we’d join in to signal that there were two boats. The boat coming the other way backed off and reversed out – phew!

Toby has been on the lookout for a Kingfisher all holiday and today we saw two. One on a branch and another in flight, they move so quickly, I think we were very lucky to get this shot. Next on the list is an Otter, I think that may be pushing our luck.

We moored at Anderton and had lunch in the museum cafe. It also gave us a chance to take a closer look at The Anderton Boat lift which we’ll take tomorrow. We’ll be going down from The Trent and Mersey Canal to the River Weaver. You can just turn up and take the next slot, but as you know, I like a plan! So we’ve paid our £5 and we’re booked on the first passage tomorrow at 10am.

We met up with Jan, one of my work colleagues and her husband Chris in the local pub. Jan has been in the wars after falling off her horse and is in a back brace and sling, Chris is doing a grand job looking after her. It was great to catch up.

Day 69 – Wet Wet Wet

We woke up to an overcast and slightly misty morning, with the forecast threatening lots of rain later.

We decided to make the most of the lighter rain early on so got going fully togged up in our wet gear and then set off. It wasn’t long before it the rain set in and by 10 am it was really going for it, so we took turns up on deck rather than both get wet at once. We should probably have got the brolly out a bit earlier, before Sarah was looking like a drowned rat, but we still kept smiling and at least it was still fairly warm.

We passed some lovely well kept gardens; this little cottage was the winner of the day for us. I think they’d probably benefited from a bit of watering too, everything looked nice and lush.

The dogs certainly didn’t seem to mind a bit of water – well two of the three didn’t anyway, the third one seems a bit less sure!

We saw our second ‘Boaty McBoatFace’ of the trip today – this one nothing to do with the RRS Sir David Attenborough though!

We moored up at 11:35; typically the rain eased off after that, and the forecast thunder and lightning never happened so we should have just stayed in bed all morning and moved in the afternoon instead! Still, there were some heavy showers later and it was nice to be in the cozy warmth and dry of Oliver whilst it chucked it down.

We had some lovely bacon butties using the bacon from the Port of Lancaster smokehouse at Glasson. We both thought it was some of the best bacon we’ve ever had, absolutely scrummy.

Sarah then had an afternoon snooze whilst I read on my kindle and played some computer games. We’ve just had a lovely dinner of fajitas – though Sarah bought the extra hot ones by mistake so it was quite spicy!

Tomorrow looks like more rain, but no thunder or lightning forecast so hopefully it’s more a case of showers rather than downpours, and it’s only a short hop to Anderton.

Day 68 – Over and Under

We’d arranged a flyover with Neil and Christine on nb Comfortably Numb for today, and luckily it all went to plan and they passed under us whilst we passed over them. We were on the Barton Swing Aqueduct over the Manchester Ship Canal (MSC), and they came along the MSC from their overnight mooring at Salford Quays.

I was out with the binoculars to look out for them, but we knew they were coming around the bend as Neil phoned us just as they were going under the previous bridge. The boat looks tiny in comparison to the size of the canal.

We did deliberate trying to throw down half a loaf of freshly baked bread as they passed below, but thought it might do more harm than good if it landed in the wrong place!

After turning right at Waters Meeting and onto part of the Cheshire Ring, we saw noticeably more narrowboats on the move compared to all quiet stretches before. As we passed through Sale, we were having to share the water with a few other craft too, with a few rowers and paddlers out and about. Some of them clearly knew the rules of the road (or river I should say), others maybe not so much!

We stopped for the day by Dunham Massey, where there’s an offside mooring that looked perfect on the map. In practice it seems a little underused and overgrown, but perfectly usable once Sarah trimmed a few brambles back with the secateurs!

Sadly for us, the house is closed on a Thursday and Friday, but the park and gardens are open and we timed it well for a 1:30 pm guided tour of the grounds. They have around 180 deer in the 190 acres of parkland, plus some lovely gardens and a huge number of outbuildings such as the old wood mill below. The deer seemed totally unfazed by all the people about, we could even hear one snoring as it dozed!

Of course, no National Trust visit is complete without a trip to the cafe – Mum would love the cherry bakewell, yum! Sarah resisted the temptations and had a nice cuppa.

Back to Oliver and Sarah cooked a delicious Chinese-style lemon chicken dish for dinner. Tummy’s now full, if the wi-fi can handle it we might watch an episode or two of series 2 of Killing Eve. Highly recommended if you missed it before – it’s all on BBC iPlayer.

Day 67 – Men At Work

(and women too!), but more of that later…

We left the Leeds & Liverpool canal today and are now on the Bridgewater canal, retracing our steps. We were tempted to stop at Astley Green to sample the Manchester Tart at the pub there, but we wanted to get to Bridgewater Marina before midday as we knew they’d be closed for a couple of hours from 12-2pm.

We were glad we’d stopped on the way up to visit the colliery, as today they were busy laying a new footpath. They don’t seem to be leaving much room for mooring pins between the tarmac and the canal edging. Perhaps they’re more interested in pedestrians and cyclists. I wonder if they’ll put any mooring rings in later?

Leigh proved a handy stopover point for the shops once again, though some inconsiderate boater had already got in at the mooring by Aldi, so we had to moor the towpath side and Sarah walked over the bridge to get there. Sarah was in and out in record time, just 25 minutes between when we arrived and left!

We made Bridgewater Marina by about 11am in the end, so plenty of time to spare. The service was once again second to none – we got a pumpout done and replaced the gas bottle that ran out in Liverpool. Hopefully this one will last a bit longer. Sarah was very impressed by there little veg and flower plot, looked after by the marina gardening club. I bet they can’t wait for the new RHS Bridgewater Garden to open, we could see building work for it going on as we passed on the canal.

There were more busy bees as we arrived in Worsley, this time local volunteers clearing the towpath and tidying up the vegetation. They’ve done an incredible job, the results speak for themselves.

We moored up opposite an old boathouse, only a few dozen yards from where we moored on the way up. Two other boats were here already – they left shortly after lunchtime, but were soon replaced by two later arrivals. I had been a bit worried about finding space here but there’s still room for one more even now.

Sarah did some baking, making chocolate chip cookies and another batch of her renowned date balls. I nipped out to the shop for some more milk and bananas. I got a quick piccy of Sarah in the galley whilst I was outside the window.

Tomorrow we are crossing the Manchester Ship Canal on the Barton Swing Aqueduct. We’re hoping to time things so that we pass over as Neil and Christine pass under on nb Comfortably Numb. Fingers crossed I get out of bed in time and the timings work out!

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.

Day 31 – 1 month in

We had a bit of a lie in this morning – Sarah was tired from the locks yesterday, and I’d had the start of a migraine in the night so we both welcomed a bit of rest. Luckily the pills did their job so we eventually cast off for the short hop up to Astley Green.

We pulled over 30 minutes later to do a pump out at Brigewater Marina. The owner was great, and did a very thorough job for £12, one of the cheapest we’ve seen. We also got to see the “Floatiest” installation, knitted with 150 hours of volunteer time. The symbols on some of the squares are the old stone masons’ marks from the stonework in the locks and bridges.

After a little more motoring we reached Astley Green, and moored up on pins – any official visitor moorings have been removed, at least temporarily, and a new tarmac towpath has been laid very recently by the looks of things. It was raining and a little chilly, so we escaped to the nearby pub for lunch.

Bodies refuelled, we then went to check out the local colliery museum where they have one of the largest surviving steam winding engines. The sheer scale of it is staggering. The engine was installed in 1912 and ran until the mine was shutdown in 1970, but a team of volunteers have been working on restoring and maintaining it since 1983. In t’s hey day, it would winch up 9 tonnes of coal at nearly 60mph from a depth of 800m every two minutes.

The site was used for some filming of Peaky Blinders, and one of the set designers helped them create a replica miner’s cottage from the early 1900s, which really helped give a feel for what their homes would have been like.

The rain was really coming down by now, so we made our way back to Oliver for some hot drinks and got the stove going to warm us up.

Tomorrow will be another relatively short hop to Leigh for the supermarkets and then probably on to Pennington Flash Country Park.

Day 30 – Monday Morning Commute

Another early start today, as we wanted to get through the somewhat grotty underbelly of Manchester. We cast off by 7.15 with Toby doing a grand job of steering out of the basin and back on the canal.

We were going down the locks, the water was overflowing the gates which at least meant they were all full, but very hard to empty and open the gates. I ended up walking up to the road and asking a construction worker if he would help us, it took three of us to open one gate.

Our timing couldn’t have been better, the canal towpath was filled with folk in their work gear going to work, not a troublemaker in sight. The landing pontoons were a bit tricky for me and meant I had to get off the bow, Toby did a fine job of slowly steering in as close as possible. Every lock gate and paddle seemed like such an effort, all I can say is that it must be doing wonders for my thighs and bingo wings!

All nine locks done by 10am, and then we were on to The Bridgewater Canal (with no more locks – yey!) Toby gave a nod to his football team as we passed.

We went over the Manchester Ship Canal, it’s quite impressive although sad in some ways to see it in such a state of disrepair.

We moored up in Worsley in time for lunch and before the rain. Worsley is the birthplace of the Bridgewater Canal, The Duke of Bridgewater being inspired by the Canal Du Midi. It looks like the rain will be with us the rest of the week, thankfully we’ve broken the back of the locks.