Tuesday, 23 May 2017
It’s D-day although I should probably call it W-day for our descent down The Wigan flight of 23 locks although we are going to moor before the bottom one so it will be 22. It seems that this flight is known for being the most gruelling set of locks in the country. As well as the big heavy gates each lock has 6 sets of paddles and every one has a handcuff lock on it to prevent vandalism. Also you can see that the gates have these massive beams in front to ease the pressure on them.
We were so lucky that friends Jack and Tina turned up to help us down the flight. Jack and Tina have a boat called narrowboat Sandoy and it was built by the same builders that built Inca which was Sabre narrowboats ,who were renowned for building quality boats .. If you put our two boats together they look nearly identical and they look the same inside as well.
We had planned to set off at 09.00 but it seems one of the pounds had somehow emptied so the lockie on duty had to run water down from the top which made us half an hour late starting. With Tina feeling a bit under the weather she left us to get on with it.
Jack and Carolyn soon formed a good team and had a great system going to get us down the flight.
We also had a bit of extra help from the lockie and a fellow boater and blog follower who cycled ahead and set some locks for us . Sorry I didn’t catch your name but many thanks for your help.
Over half way down and we are making very good time.
We had been warned about this lock and told to get well inside the boat and stay at the front of the lock to avoid filling Inca with water .
There was also a few good leaks from the side walls . Luckily we had remembered to close all the windows after learning our lesson the hard way on other lock flights we have done.
On this lock because the bridge is so close to the gate you have to use a windlass to wind the gate open.
The last lock before mooring and what a great job done to get all the way down here.
We finally moored up after three hours and forty minutes which was a great time as the guide book says anything up to six hours, and if it wasn’t for Jack’s help it would have been twice as long . A massive thanks to you Jack, we so appreciate all the help you gave us and we will catch up with you both again soon.
Yes the locks are heavy and it is hard work ,but from what we had heard we expected a rough area with Graffiti as well as unsavoury characters everywhere . But in fact it’s a well kept set of the locks with grass cut, locks painted and all in all not a bad flight. I know the lockies and the Volunteers work hard on the flight ,so it’s all credit to them, well done !.
After a night here we will drop down the final lock on the flight and pass the famous Wigan pier as we continue our journey towards Liverpool.
Monday, 22 May 2017
We pulled ropes through rings from our moring at Riley Green at 07.10 and had a good 6 hour cruise in front of us with a total of 7 locks which are the Johnson’s Hillock flight. There’s still some great country scenery to be had as we head towards Wigan which is our destination today.
We have come across a few locks like this before where the gate paddles are so high Carolyn has problems working them . On some they provide a step to bring you up to a higher level, but not on this flight.
Again I need to be careful not to go back to far in the lock as this amount of water leaking through the gate would soon sink us.
At the bottom of the flight and how the other half live . They have their own outside bar and BBQ.
This building dominates the skyline as we head towards Chorley. It’s the Preston Temple of the Church of Latter Date Saints.
A short distance from the Church was this imposing building which is Botany Bay . Having read the guide book last night it told me that it was a large old Mill that had been converted in to a slightly surreal shopping complex . I had purposely not mentioned it to Carolyn as I knew she would want to stop. Just our luck that we saw a couple of walkers and Carolyn asked them what was in the building “Oh you must stop and go in it’s amazing” they said . Anyway 2 hours after going in Carolyn emerged with a big grin on her face and says it was very good . If ever you are passing it’s well worth a visit she said.
After an 8 hour cruise , well actually 6 hours when you take out Carolyn’s shopping trip we arrived at Wigan top lock . Then another first for us happened . 10 minutes after mooring there was a knock on the side of the boat , I went out to see a person in a hoodie actually sat on the side of Inca. He then asked me if I wanted to buy any Ganga after someone down the locks had told him a blue boat at the top wanted some ,not having a clue what he was on about and obviously looking a bit stupid to him he said you know weed/cannabis .He said he just had a fresh supply come in from Amsterdam and it was some good shit. By this time Carolyn had come out and said no thanks, talk about being open with it.
Tomorrow we have arranged to drop down the locks at 09.00 and to be honest we don’t know what to expect after hearing so many stories about this flight , what ever happens it’s sure to be an experience.
Sunday, 21 May 2017
We pulled pins from our mooring at Hapton at 07.55 and after a short cruise we came across these kids that were doing a school project and wanted a Selfie with any item from the canal . Needless to say we stopped mid stream and became that item .Only to pleased to help….
Today we will go through Blackburn which is another place we have been told not to stop in as it’s Bandit country . To be honest I’m getting a bit
pissed off fed up with not being able to stop in certain towns. These towns must have such a lot to offer to passing boaters and how much would it take to make a few safe and secure moorings to allow boaters to stop, moor up and visit these towns .
As we start to head in to Blackburn we passed the massive Imperial Mill which was a major employer in the town . In 1910 there were 87,377 looms in the town of Blackburn which were operated by 42,000 textile workers with many of them being children as young as twelve.
Now this is something that beggar's belief . All along the canal through Blackburn there are seats like this one . How lovely they look you might think , but no it’s not . As you can see the local Scroates have cut through the wire to get to the rocks which the seats are made of . According to a couple of locals we spoke to they then stone the passing boaters with the rocks provided . Not only that ,but they can sit in comfort as they do so ….UNBELIVABLE !!!
Passing through Blackburn and we had a flight of 6 locks to do . As you can see like many locks on the canal system they need a bit of TLC from Canal and River Trust and with this one needing some urgent attention to the cill
We then passed Ewood park the home of Blackburn Rovers. Yet again it’s just the same as Burnley ,there was not a single boat moored anywhere through Blackburn . Speaking to some friendly locals as we passed down the locks they said that Blackburn was a good place and they would welcome passing boaters . Come on Canal and River Trust maybe you should get together with Blackburn council and give boaters some safe and secure moorings in Blackburn.
After an enjoyable 8 hour cruise we reached Riley Green where I said that I would treat Carolyn out to a slap up meal . But how was I to know that a couple of weeks before we got there the Pub had burnt down.
After passing the burnt out pub we moored at the visitor moorings on the other side of the bridge . As you can see the Visitor moorings leave a lot to be desired , but they will do us for tonight before we move on in the morning.
Saturday, 20 May 2017
After a good night at Foulridge we pulled ropes through rings at 08.35 and headed around the corner to Foulridge tunnel . It only allows boats through in this direction on the hour and every hour ,so we had a short wait for the lights to turn from red to green.
From Foulridge tunnel it’s just a short hop to the Barrowford flight of 7 locks . We had been pre warned that if it was windy these locks would be a nightmare to lock through and guess what ? With winds gusting to 25 mph this was going to be fun. I much prefer it when there’s a bit of a challenge and something a bit exciting.
In the end it wasn’t that bad although we did meet a hire boat coming up with two elderly people on board . It seems that they couldn’t work any of the locks as they were to heavy for them so they called out Canal and River trust to do all the locks for them .I don’t think some people do enough research before taking a boat out on hire. I would have thought any hire company would say only reasonably fit people can operate locks. You could tell by looking at them that they were not at all capable
It was then onto Nelson where we intended to do a shop in the Morrisons which has it’s own wharf for boaters . When we were about 10 feet from the wharf our engine juddered and then stopped . We managed to get to the side with the use of the pole and bow thruster . While Carolyn headed in to Morrisons I headed down the weed hatch where I spent the next hour. This is the worse fouling we have ever had . in the end I had to use wire cutter’s a bread knife and a utility knife. To say the air was a bit blue would be an understatement.
After 6 hours cruising we were the other side of Burnley and strangely enough there was not one moored boat anywhere to be seen on our way through.We picked up a mooring just before Hapton for the night and yet again I had to go down and clear the prop. It seems like people in cities just use the canal as one big tip. I’m sure Burnley has something to other visitors but not visitors that come by boat. Tomorrow we will go through Blackburn which it seems is also known as Bandit country.
Friday, 19 May 2017
We were up and ready for the off at 08.00 when we had arranged to meet the Lockie who was going to help us up the flight. But just before eight we were told that some Idiot had left the paddles on lock 33 at Gargrave fully open and had totally drained the pound above. There was only one thing to do and that was to let water down the Bank Newton flight which we were just going to do ‘ it should only hold us up for a short time .
At East Marton we passed under this strange looking bridge which is numbered 161. It’s just a small marvel of the Waterways where a realigned upgraded road was simply provided by a second arch above the existing one.
We have now crossed the border from Yorkshire and are now in Lancashire .We have enjoyed Yorkshire a lot and have been so impressed with the friendlyness and warmth of the people . A county we will have to come back to again one day
After a good 7 hour cruise we picked up a mooring in Foulridge next to the old lime Kilns . Another early start tomorrow as we want to push on towards Liverpool . It will be another first for us as Foulridge tunnel is controlled by traffic lights which is something we have never come across before.