Tag Archives: Bridgewater

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.