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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Leaving Liverpool going south

Thursday 3rd July We had filled the tank from the fuel barge on Wednesday and topped up our water tank and ensured the flowers were watered too. We cast off at 8.30 with a group of & other narrowboats and one wide beam boat and made a fairly slow departure from the Canning Half Tide Lock into the Liverpool Link canal. Barbara & John on Aethelburg were right behind us
waiting in the Half Tide Lock to rejoin the canal network

and John & Diana from New Zealand followed them through.


Eric & Debbie from Georgina were waving farewell from the lock side & photographing as we waited for the first lock. It was overcast with a light breeze and we had drizzle for much of the morning, brightening through the afternoon.

We managed the trip without collecting anything on our prop and we carried on to Maghull and stopped for a late coffee at 4, having covered 16 miles, 6 locks and 3 swing bridges.
 
Sign on Top Lock gate at Stanley. If you obey this how do you use the lock?

Friday started dryish turning wetter as we cruised through to Burscough where we arrived wet and chilled and ready for our visit to Infusions for a coffee! We had covered 10 miles and 4 swing bridges before we stopped, and we re-provisioned.
Carol doing her gardening with the great Blue Mallard behind her

Saturday was a bright day but we stopped at Burscough, seeing Diana there and also Sokai at a mooring, Pete & Sue were away as he had a singing engagement in France, stopping until we had watched qualifying for the British GP and then set off on a lovely afternoon to get just past Apley Bridge in a really lovely mooring on a fabulous evening. Pushing ourselves we covered 6 miles & 2 swing bridges. I should point out that since we first cruised into Liverpool the swing bridges have been much improved, many more are automated totally, just one or two footbridges have to be swung by hand.
Our lovely outlook from our Apley Bridge mooring

Sunday 6th another wonderful day and we set off at about 9. We were about to leave our first lock when another boat arrived and we arranged we would wait for them so we could share locks into Wigan. They were not the speediest of "lockers" but it helped a bit & we saved some water, plus we crossed with a boat at one lock. The secure moorings outside the CRT offices were occupied so we joined several others on the towpath whilst we enjoyed a Costa. Sadly the large mill engine was not steamed up but we watched the Grand Prix which finished an hour late because H&S required a damaged crash barrier to be repaired........not a fantastic race but at least the leading drivers were shaken up a bit. Race over and we went through 3 locks to moor alongside the beautiful Scotsmans Flash we stopped alongside on the way into Liverpool. Just 6 miles and 6 locks today.
Our mooring just east of Wigan on Scotsmans Flash

Monday We were away at 8 on a fine day to get to Leigh to meet an engineer from RCR. Each time we have come through this section I have wanted to stop at the Museum of Mining, failing again this time, it will have to be by road. We arrived at the Plank Lane lift bridge at just past 9.30 which was fortunate as had we been earlier we would have had to wait! The engineer had come over from Hebden Bridge & the Tour de France rode past his house over the weekend, he said it was a fabulous sight. Away after lunch to Trafford Centre after a stop at Bridgewater marina to tip. Had a Thai buffet meal which seemed pretty good to me but it seems that Carol's body has now decided that something in Thai/Chinese food does not agree with her now! Just 13 miles.
Carol in her large sun hat and lifejacket

Tuesday started with lovely weather but we had really heavy storms in early evening. We stopped at the Stretford Marina just after the turn to Castlefields. Really pleasant chap, topped up & tipped plus filled with diesel
This lovely view was not in Sale or Stretford!!

Stopping at Sale to get food for our friends visiting tonight Carol was delighted that Sale now has a Costa! Judy & Stephen arrived in a deluge and were entertained to a Greek meal featuring several dishes Carol had never made before. It was a triumph, even if she forgot the Pittas! It was a lovely evening, Judy had been a long time customer of our knitwear business and it is good to keep in touch, we knew her before she had her son, he has just finished his accountancy final qualifications!! Rain carried on through the evening and quite a bit of the night. 4 miles only. 

Wednesday another lovely day and on the wide, deep, lock and lift/swing bridge free Bridgewater Canal we made good progress, even managing to fluke arriving at Preston Brook tunnel as we joined the T&M canal right in the middle of the 10 minute passage time, had we been 5 minutes later we'd have had a 50 minute wait, though the boat that was following us clearly had faulty watches as they entered 5 minutes late and crawled through so slowly that I suspect the boats waiting to travel north had to miss a turn! We stopped just after 4 at a pretty spot just before bridge 213 after covering 17 miles and 1 lock, our first lock since Sunday, and even this only had a 6" rise.
Near Preston Brook this interesting adaptation of an old warehouse

Thursday 10th and a fabulous day, sun hats on & Carol roasted her thighs whilst sitting on the back deck. Away at 8.30 we had a steady/fast cruise and arrived at Saltersford tunnel right on time (not that we knew what the passage times were!) to go though it and its mate the Barnton tunnel, both incredibly bendy. 
The repaired canal where it breached in 2012

And all along the length new stop planks and plank holders

At the Anderton services we dropped onto the free water point alongside another boat with an equally well silenced engine as has Lily. We had a steady cruise into Middlewich where we had 6 locks and managed to cross with 2 boats, turning onto the Middlewich Branch and stopping just past bridge 25 opposite a field with several very young calves and their mothers having covered 17 miles and 6 locks before stopping at about 4. 
A very unusual canopy seen on the Middlewich!!

After leaving the engine to cool for several hours I did an oil change.               

Friday and about 6 a boat raced past, another more slowly around 7. A fabulous morning and we were away around 8.30 and carried along to Barbridge juction at the end of the Branch, with queues at both of the locks on the way. Turning onto the Shroppie and heading south we had a good cruise to Nantwich where we used the services, then moored up and walked into the town for refreshment and shopping for fruit etc. Returning to Lily we cast off after 4 & with the afternoon cooling cruised through the Hack Green locks and on to Audlem where we moored below the bottom lock at 6.30.

After a long hot day we consulted Trip Adviser and selected to go the the Lord Combermere pub, what a good choice. I don't like my beer cold generally but the Timothy Taylor Landlord was just perfect and it slipped down wonderfully. We both had their home-made burgers after garlic bread topped with mozzarella. Both were absolutely wonderful, we couldn't fault them and the pub was at a very pleasant temperature, well worth a visit.   17 miles and 4 locks






The Shroppie Fly early morning, will we pass it again?

Saturday 12th and the forecast another hot day so we set off at 6!!! It was misty and mild and about half the locks were set for us, or rather they had leaked empty over night! We stopped to top up with water on the way & get rid of rubbish and came out the 15th lock just over 3 hours later. Another 5 followed at Adderley, by which time the sun was full on, and we cruised on to Market Drayton where we stopped for lunch before wandering in to town for coffee. Back home Carol collapsed into a chair and we waited till 4 before setting off again, intending to go up the next 5 locks and on a bit further but it started to drizzle so we stopped at the bottom, thankful the washing had dried whilst we were having coffee. 20 locks and 7 miles.
The misty morning as a prelude to a lovely day

          

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Into and in Liverpool



Sunday 15th June A lovely day and we celebrated Fathers’ Day by going out for a Sunday lunch. We rarely eat a roast on a Sunday but sometimes we fancy it so we found that The Blue Mallard in part of the old canal warehouse in Burscough Bridge was offering one. Trip Adviser gave the place good reviews and our experience was very much in agreement with these. Otherwise day was spent preparing for the arrival of Carol’s sister and husband on Monday.


The Blue Mallard is on the first floor of the old wharf building

Monday and Annette and Mike arrived at around 1pm after a journey slowed by traffic near Stoke. After lunch we went with them to see Rufford Old Hall, a National Trust house only about 3 miles from Burscough, but alongside the Rufford Arm of the L&L canal, but only if your boat is under 62 ft long! We had been before but our second visit was most enjoyable, more so because the weather was lovely.
 
Rufford Old Hall. I'm sure there are more pictures in our 2011 blog

Carol & Annette enjoying the gardens at Rufford Old Hall

We followed this by a drive along the coast south through Southport to let them see this rather lovely old Victorian seaside resort and onwards down to Crosby to see Gormley’s statues, “Another Place”. We had enjoyed our visit the last time we were in the area when the tide was retreating and more and more statues appeared, this time the tide had gone off pretty well to Wales so all were visible. This place is well worth a vis
Carol & Annette found the Gormleys interesting

Our drive continued southwards, passing an old airfield to let Mike get his “fix” of bagging as many as possible before we got home for a lovely meal. All in all a great day. They decided they would stop in a nearby B&B so at least we didn’t have the upheaval of making the dinette into a bed, though they were most welcome to stay.

Tuesday 17th and they arrived for coffee at Infusions before we set off for the Wetland & Wildlife Trust’s Martin Mere Reserve. I had seen notices pointing the way for the reserve on the station in Burscough on previous visits but we hadn’t been as it was too far for Carol to walk. Prior to this visit I had looked up bits about the place and found that it used to be England’s largest area of inland water until the mid 1700’s when Lord Scarisbrick, of Scarisbrick Hall close by the L&L canal, had drained it to create additional farmland.
 
Carol feeds one of the Swan Geese at Martin Mere
To say the place exceeded our expectations is to put it mildly! All the staff were so enthusiastic and knowledgeable and the weather was ideal, warm but not oppressively sunny. One of the highlights for us was a small silent cruise on part of the waters guided by Paul who had incredible knowledge as well as possibly the most relaxing voice we had ever heard.
 
Carol listens intently as Paul describes some feature of the reserve
Having spent the day there pretending we knew something about birds, we headed back to The Blue Mallard where we all had wonderful food, even better as we caught the early bird menu at lower prices. The place is deservedly popular but not open on Mondays.

Wednesday and Annette and Mike were with us until after lunch and we tooltled along to Southport again to experience the “Prom”. Another fine day though breezy and after getting to the end of the ¾ mile long pier, the sea was still another 2 miles away!! We could see Blackpool through the haze and wondered just how fast the water flowed over the exposed rather muddy sand when it decided to come in, it must be frightening and probably faster than you could walk.
 
It was a fairly safe bet the sea was over there, but they couldn't see it!!

Carol looks over the sand, Blackpool could just be seen in this view!

Carol fed us again and we said farewell to them as they returned to Cossington and we set off along the canal at about 3 making our way easily to just past bridge 26 covering 5 miles and just 2 swing bridges. Bright sun and a good breeze so washing on the line & I decided to polish the starboard side, making my shoulder ache like mad in the process but the effort was well worth it.

Thursday and yet another lovely day for our easy cruise to finish just above bridge 10 ready for our 9am start at bridge 9 in convoy in the morning. I found that in Maghull on our way they had a Costa so, not being pushed for time we stopped there where close to the canal there is a good range of shops, including a rather odd situation. In the main square, redeveloped I suppose in the 1970’s, there were two butchers, but not a greengrocers, so both butchers offered fruit and veg as well as meat!

After we moored up we were joined by The Cat’s Whiskers who we met at Harecastle & in Burscough, and another boat with owners from Ripon. 5 swing bridges today in the 7½ miles covered.
Our mooring above bridge 10

Friday 20th June and we set off through the last manual swing bridge with the others to join 3 more at bridge 9 but more importantly to meet up with friends David & Lesley who we met on the Macc and who helped us up the Boseley Locks. They had never managed to cruise into Liverpool on their shared owner boat and had jumped at the option of cruising in with us and fortunately we were blessed with another lovely day.
 
David holds Lily steady at the top of the Stanley locks

Lesley winds the top paddle


A bit of a conundrum, how do you work a lock this way????
At 9 the CRT chaps closed the road and swung the bridge and let us through for our cruise. The water seemed clearer than before and though Lily picked up some debris at one point a quick run in reverse seemed to clear it. After our stop at Litherland at the facilities we were on to the Stanley locks and the most impressive bit of our cruise. All the CRT bods, employed and volunteers were so incredibly keen that everyone should enjoy experiencing their city, it was fantastic.
 
The newly renovated Rum warehouse now an hotel

The wonderful Tobacco Warehouse awaits a solution but I understand the concrete grain silo is to be demolished

It was also lovely to hear that the old Tobacco warehouse is to get a facelift initially while people decide what to do with it as the floor to ceiling height is only 6’6” and too low to be lived in being designed to best and economically accommodate bales of tobacco, not people. Initial plans were to remove alternate floors till a structural engineer pointed out that this would ruin the structural integrity of the building. It was lovely to see that the building opposite to the Tobacco warehouse had been renovated from a rum warehouse into a new hotel and conference centre, as it was to see that a new watersports centre had been established just a bit further on our journey of 12 miles in total.

On our last visit I moaned at the under utilisation f the tremendous Salthouse Dock facility because BW only allowed 6 boats at a time to enter and leave but this trip there were 9 of us as 3 boats had arrived at bridge 9 early the day before & they had been let through, I assume when the outgoing boats passed through, on the day before and had spent the night on the secure moorings at Litherland. When we entered Salthouse Dock I was flabbergasted to see nearly all the moorings were full!! Last time only perhaps a third were being used, it was great to see many enjoying this destination. I also espied our old friends Sokai moored up and found that the main reason the dock was full was because two flotillas had come across The Mersey from Ellesmere Port a few days earlier.

Arriving at around 2.30 and having enjoyed great sandwiches on the way we retreated to Albert Dock where we found a second Costa had been created! We all had to go in!

All in all a lovely day and a great 2 week stay planned with grandson Sam due to join us on Monday for a week with his sister Hannah coming on Thursday.

Saturday and Sunday and with lovely weather the place was heaving with all sorts of people several boats left on Saturday & I didn’t count how many arrived on Sunday but Eric &  on Georgina was one and we had a good old natter with Pete & Sue on Sokai, catching up on the past 2 years, we had first met at Wigan on our way into Liverpool on our first trip & then down in The Secret Nuclear Bunker near Nantwich the following year.

Visitors enlivened our stay with Sam joining us on the first Monday and reveling (as we knew he would) in the architecture, both old and new. He and I walked back to Stanley Dock on the first evening and wandered into the frontage of the old rum warehouse, only to be quickly ushered out as it wasn't open officially and only being used for part of a major conference within the city. It was lovely to look at bits we had not seen from the water.
Princess Dock, a new lock and the wonderfully shaped bridge

Sam views the bridge closely

Wonderful mix of old and new looking towards the new docks past Jessie Hartley's tower

I took the train back to Leicester on the Tuesday for a hospital appointment and to do some work on our little house that had been recently vacated, returning on Thursday evening with Sam's sister Hannah who was with us until their parents arrived on Sunday morning for a day with us before taking everyone home.
Family gathering on the back deck, garden flowering well.

During our stay the weather was pretty good and got a lot warmer. We took the kids (!) to see the Lion King touring production at The Empire and all raved about it. We also went to The Royal Court to see Lennon, which we though OK though other boaters thought was good.
 
Walking back from the Tunnels I came upon this, a memorial to the 15 Liverpudlians awarded a VC during WW1 and especially Captain Chavasse who was awarded 2 VCs!!


We discovered two new places to visit, one being the Williamson Tunnels, about 300yds further out than the Wigwam, the other was the Western Approaches bunker between the Liver Building & the old Town Hall. Both interesting, the approaches more so but I was staggered by the size of the tunnels. Grayson Perry tapestries were being displayed in the Walker Gallery. We all thought we'd hate them but they were tremendous.
I happened upon this statue of Eleanor Rigby scuplted by Tommy Steel

Before our return I had another trip to Leicester as the hospital had moved my appointment on a week but neglected to contact me in the manner I said they needed to. When I rang Nicky back at Debdale after I tried to check in on the first visit she found the letter when I told her to open any post. Grrrrrrrr! Second visit was good, eye problem improving!

At various times during our stay flotillas departed, one numbering 15, and lesser numbers arrived, so that after our group of 7 narrowboats and one widebeam left on the 3rd there were probably only around a dozen moored with well over 20 spaces, yet an incoming boat we met said they were not allowed to stay long as the dock was fully booked. I find this very hard to believe.

Amongst the incomers were Eric & Debbie on Georgina from Debdale, and our group on the northern wall included a lovely couple from my favorite city in New Zealand, Napier, enjoying their first summer cruising the canals on Molly Rose, and they were part of our outward group as well as John & Barbara on Aethelburgh from Somerset.