Sunday, 18 August 2013

From the Bridgewater to Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Our last blog found us on the Bridgewater canal where we met up with Carol and George of the good ship Rock n Roll. We’d last met them up in Chester and Ellesmere Port when we were only about a month into our new nomadic lifestyle. They kindly invited us for a BBQ at five and it wasn’t until about midnight that we had to trudge off into the moonlight in search of out boat. Luckily it was only a boat length away and we’d headed in the right direction first time. I’m a bad blogger though, didn’t take a bloggers must have gadget with me, aka a camera, so no photo.

We also met up with some old friends from Scotland, Alan and Ann, who we hadn’t seen for about four years. No excuse about not taking my camera with me this time, no, just simply forgot to take a photo of them – DOH! Now I say OLD friends, but were all sort of from the same era, well all except Ann, she’s much older than us and comes from an earlier decade. Unfortunately our day didn’t go exactly as planned as they enjoyed our Company so much there coming back to see us in October . . .  oh well, just have to try harder next time. Promise a photo of them next time.

After doing the main Bridgewater Canal we turned onto its Leigh Branch and travelled over the Manchester Ship Canal via the Barton Swing Aqueduct that I think is the only one of its kind in the world. Here are a couple of photo’s of our trip on it although it doesn't really do it justice,


but if you want to see it in action then check out Rock n Rolls blog here.

After that we stopped as soon as we got past civilisation that happened to be just after a place called Worsley. It had a bit of canal history associated to it so we took a wonder around the town and read up about it on various boards. It was actually quite interesting as they tunnelled canals into the mines starting with two entrances that then extended underground for about 50 miles with locks to about four different levels. The barges they loaded with the iron ore were then moved around the underground canal system by opening and closing sluices to push them along.

Pictured below is the access to the basin on the right although the canal itself turns a sharp left out of the picture. The right hand arm, that is not navigable, takes you into the basin where the tunnels were accessed from. You’ll note the colour of the canal and this is from the dissolved iron ore that comes out of the underground tunnels having flowed though the ore that remains.


And one of Badger Sett giving a truer colour of the water.


We had a few warm days whilst we were in the area and we normally put a large fishing umbrella out for the boys so they can sleep in the shade. Don’t know why we bother though sometimes as they prefer the heat anyway and just keep moving out of the shade when we put it there for them. Anyway, the reason for this is that we lost it (the brolly that is not one of the boys) into the canal with a gust of wind and off it floated with the spike pointing skywards. It was close enough to the bank to reach with a pole though, but the problem was that it was the other bank and it would have been about a mile trek to travel about forty feet. Luckily a little lad came to the rescue with a nippy battery powered boat and crying ‘ I’ll get it for you mister ‘ which he duly did.

I signalled to Nick to give him a quid or two as thanks, but unfortunately something got lost in translation and he ended up with five quid in his little hand. Oh well, he was a nice kid anyway.

Just up from Worsley where’d we’d stopped for a couple of nights is a place called Astley where we stayed for a few more nights. They’re only about two or three miles apart so not much travelling was done which is the way we like it. We’d mainly stopped here as there was a mining museum called Astley Green Pit Museum and it was well worth the few hours we spent there. Since we’ve been on our travels we’ve been to a Salt museum (Northwich) a Silk museum (Macclesfield) and now a Coal museum. All very interesting in their own ways, although the Boys don’t come on tour with us to these so they’re left home alone.

You can just make out the pit head gear of the colliery at the end of the canal and then a close up of it.


They’ve got some large steam turbines on show and a set of hefty spanners named King Dick’s.

Nicky couldn't of course miss the opportunity of trying a King Dick for size so hoisted it up and held it firmly in both hands with what I can only describe as a longing look.


We’re making the best of the canal banks fresh raspberries and blackberries to either go into some of our breakfasts or pies that Nicky does for us. Binks helps us when we’re collecting them although not many of his make it into the bag, but find there way into his tummy instead. We leave him to these as Nicky’s not keen on doggy pee height blackberries anyway, although I always lob a few lower level juicy ones into the bag and what she don’t know don’t hurt her, does it.


We’ve decided to do The Ribble Link whilst we’re up this way that connects the waterway system to the Lancaster Canal. It means travelling on rivers and tidal waters so will be a bit of an experience and I’ll blog about it in a later post. We’re booked to travel up the link on 4th September and return on 10th October so come back and check out how we get on.

And so in signing off,

Day 302 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 537 miles and 251 locks further on from when we started.


Friday, 2 August 2013

Attack of the Horse Fly’s

Bleeding little buggers, obviously get hungry during a heatwave and they certainly made a meal of me. Nicky got away lightly as I had more attention paid to the calf of one leg than she did on the whole of her body. Just goes to prove though that I must be more tasty. Desperately tried to even the odds, but still only managed to take a few with me. One of the benefits of it becoming cooler though is that they seem to have disappeared or are they just re-grouping ?

Our youngest son brought me a Jersey flag for my birthday so fashioned a flagpole out of a broken broom handle and here it is, fluttering in all its glory.

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you’d know that we needed a new prop shaft a few months back. Well we developed a squeak and it’s only whilst in drive so I assume thats got something to do with it. Now this wasn't just a little background squeak, it’s the sort of squeak that causes people to watch you as you go past probably wondering if they should tell us we’ve got a squeak! So we stopped off at an engineer who made a few adjustments that seemed to have sorted it, only for it to return a few days later. He came out again and this time came for a trip on the boat to hear it for himself and of course it wouldn’t squeak would it. Finally gave up and turned around for it to luckily (for want of a better word) start squeaking. ‘You’ve got a bad squeak there’ he said, er yes we know! He had another play and had seemed to have fixed it. . . . . . .  until . . . . . . . .  the propeller fell off yesterday. . . . . . . .  Luckily we were quite close to the bank, so in I went, into about half a shins worth of silt and up to my neck in water. Found the propeller, but not the nut and anode so that'll cost us a couple of pennies and then a few more. Had to call on River Canal Rescue again and fair dues to them, they give a spot on service, got us sorted and off we set on our travels again today.

Been on the Bridgewater Canal and it’s been great to get back to a canal with plenty of water in and has made a change to be able to see somewhere nice and just  moor up because the tow paths are accessible and with plenty of depth. Bit of a welcome change after experiencing the Macclesfield, Peak Forest and part of the Huddersfield Narrow canals over the last few months although don’t let this in anyway put you off, as they’re lovely canals to be on and we’d certainly make a return visit to all of them on our future travels. This stretch of canal isn’t part of the Canal and River Trust network though as it’s privately owned, by I believe the or the owners of the Manchester Ship Canal.



The roof of the boat has been looking a bit messy, mainly because of the bags of logs we’ve got stored on the roof for the winter, so picked up a few lengths of decking to tidy it up a bit. The other benefit is that we’ve been able to put more in the same area and can actually see where we’re going as they’re not so high now.

At one of spots we moored up at, we saw something swimming in the water. We took a guess at it being a Mink although we’ve never actually seen one, but had just happened to be talking about them earlier as we were wondering if we were ever going to come across any Otters on our travels and I think I’d read recently that Minks attack Otters, or was it the other way round? Anyway, here’s some pictures of what ‘we think’ is a Mink, but would be pleased if someone would confirm this or actually tell us what it is.



We’d been on the Trent and Mersey Canal back in the Spring, but couldn’t complete our journey, because of the breach in the canal that happened in September, so part of our reason for coming down the Bridgewater Canal was to ‘do’ the part of the Trent and Mersey canal that we’d missed out on and actually moored up where the breach was. The view from here, until the hedgerow they’ve planted grows, is certainly worth mooring up at. You look down into the valley with the railway viaduct over the River Weaver as your central view and the Dutton Locks Weir off to your left.

Having been down on the River Weaver in April, it’s nice to see and remember it from a different perspective. Here are a few close ups of the railway viaduct and weir from our time down there.

Took the opportunity of stopping off at Midland Chandlers at Preston Brook as we’ve only got a mains TV, with a built in DVD that doesn’t work, our boats got an aerial that doesn’t work although we do have a separate DVD player. The problem with all this though is that if you want to fancy watching the TV, then we’ve got to turn on both the TV and DVD player along with the Inverter to convert the battery power to mains power and then sit and ‘enjoy’ a DVD we’ve seen a number of times already. So a long put off shopping trip, well we weren’t going to actually buy anything though just price it up for now, did actually turn into a shopping trip and we left with TV, Aerial, Aerial pole and brackets, cable, various connectors and a nifty little device that enables you to run a cable into the boat without drilling any holes. Its got connectors at each end with the strip in between being made of a thin foil type material that you can just run through a closed window or door.

The other useful thing is that the aerial has got a built in amplifier that is powered by the TV, so we’re now the proud owners of a 12v TV and 90 odd channels to watch although in fairness there’s only about a dozen or so we’d watch. The difference in battery usage from what we had to what we’ve got now is much much better and after recently watching the F1 Hungarian Grand Prix highlights and a film later on that was about four hours of TV in all, the batteries had only used up about half of what they'd have previously used for about two hours of TV. Not as much of an issue now with the good long light days we’ve been having for the solar panels, but will make a considerable difference now that the nights are starting to draw in. Fancy having the nights drawing in already, just think it’ll soon be Christmas and if you don’t want to know how many days to Christmas then look away now, oops too late, it’s 144.

Talking of the nights drawing in, we actually got married on the longest day (21st  June) not the one just gone though, but twenty-seven 21st’s June ago. Remember it well as it was a world cup year and on our wedding night Brazil were playing France so when we got to the room on went the TV, rapidly followed by Nicky turning off the TV and I was pounced on by my first wife. First wife being Nicky of course as I haven’t progressed onto my subsequent ones yet, but I’m told that isn’t going to happen as I’m stuck with her. So here we are 27 years on and living 24/7 on a narrowboat and enjoying life and each others company so maybe she does know what’s best for me. Anyway, another spot of World Cup trivia, I was on my (sorry our) honeymoon listening to the Argentina versus England match on the radio (that I’d managed to smuggle away with me) and the Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal. Oh well, another one bit the dust, but looking forward to next years world cup, what with a TV, an aerial and no job to schedule the matches around anymore. All I need to do is explain the offside rule to Nicky, better start now I suppose, so she can enjoy the footy with me.  

And so in signing off,

Day 286 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 501 miles and 244 locks further on from when we started.