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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


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