Sunday 29 April 2018

Liverpool Dock Sunday 29 August 2018

We set off at 9am through bridge 10 with the aim of being at bridge 9 for the 9-30 opening window, Due to the traffic flow the bridge can only be opened between 9 30 am and 2 pm of after 6pm until 7 30am the next morning. We actually arrived at 9 20 am and were met by 2 CRT chaps who told us it would be another 10 minutes as they were replacing a hydraulic hose. When they finished they opened the bridge to test it and let us through.DSCN2251

We wanted to get through early as our next timed section would be Stanley Locks which open at 1 pm.

Until last month bridge 9 and bridge 6 were operated by CRT personnel but are now automated and boater operated. The good new for single handed boaters is that on Bridge 9 the control pod is on the towpath side and at bridge 6 they have installed a landing stage on the offside where the controls are.DSCF0910

We saw one chap magnet fishing with his wife and kids in tow but I don't think he was responsible for this heap of rubbish by one of the bridges.DSCF0911

It looks as if spring is here regardless of what the weather is like and baby chicks are everywhere, but I haven't seen any goslings or cygnets yet.DSCF0913

We were expecting to see a boat called Patience at Litherland services but she had already left and we found her on the lock moorings at Stanley locks when we got there at about 1230pm.

On the course of our travels we picked up something round the prop so while we waited for 1 pm locking time I delved down the weed hatch and found some cloth and a length of wire and what felt like curtain wire, quite sharp on the hands. Once I had it out on deck it was piece of electric blanket, the flex and the spiralled element wire which I mistaken for curtain wire. We got along much better after that.

We set off down the top lock at 1pm, the padlocks were already off and we met the two CRT chaps at lock 2 and they assisted us with the rest of the locks down the flight and trough the docks. They also gave very helpful navigation advice.

One of the chaps was Sid, who Sid's Ditch is named after.DSCF0927It seems he was on the first trip through the link on the trip boat, The Pride of Sefton and when they got to the new channel between Trafalgar Dock and West Waterloo Dock he said its nothing but a ditch, and it stuck. There are even unofficial name boards at each end.

The trip through the docks is quite interesting, it should be noted that when passing through Waterloo dock you need to keep between the buoys and the wall, it looks like a channel between the buoys as you approach but its not.DSCF0925

When you first enter the docks you go past the Tobacco Warehouse , we were told this is the largest brick built building in Europe, I don't know if that is correct.DSCF0919

You also get a superb view of the Liver Building and a rather strange bridge that you have to pass under, its only a foot bridge but has a spiral cover.DSCF0926

After you have entered Albert Dock they raise a barrage across the entrance, they also close the flood gates at entrance to canning Dock.

We found our berth quite easily its close the pedestrian exit , the dock is not exactly crowded with just 4 of us here tonight.DSCF0933

I will upload all the photos of the docks and what we take while in Liverpool to my "Drop Box" so you can look at them if you want to rather than fill the Blog with them.

This was our actual route through the docks recorded on Waterways Routes as we made our way through.Map of route

Today's Journeymap 15 12¾miles, 6 locks in 5¼hours

Saturday 28 April 2018

Holmes Swing Bridge Saturday 28 April 2018

Yesterday evening lots of coincidences happened, 2 Narrowboating friends who live in Southport rang to arrange meeting The Saracens Head for a drink, the people off the boat moored in front knocked on the boat, they also live in Southport and moor in the same marina as us one jetty over and then the chap off the boat behind came out who we met a few years back on the T&M canal.

Halsall is where the first sod was cut on the Leeds and Liverpool canal back in 1770 and there is a stone statue of a Navi digging a hole by bridge 25.DSCF0884

About a mile down the cut halfway between bridges 24 and 23 CRT have erected a plaque to DSCF0892commemorate it, it doesn't really do it justice and looks more like a sign to tell you someone has the fishing rights.DSCF0890

Bridge 24 is a bit unusual as the stones are all numbered and lettered to show their position, letters for rows and numbers left to right while looking at the towpath side. This is in addition to all the mason marks so I wonder if the bridge has been rebuilt.DSCF0888

We saw two classic bits of driving today, the first was as I waited at Coxhead swing bridge. A lady reversed her horsebox out of the farm gate onto the road in front of an oncoming van, there was someone standing waiting to close the gate but it didn't occur to them to look down the road, she then played with her phone, probably taking photos of the horses as she drove towards the bridge before proceeded to take her jacket off all while driving a horsebox.

Just beyond the bridge the Scouts were having a clean up, about 5 canoes forcing theirDSCF0899way into the offside reeds to pick up floating plastic and rubbish while others were walking the tow path with bags and litter pickers. They even had a visit from the Mayor of Maghull to give them encouragement and wish them well.DSCF0901

I don't know if this is part of the Maghull in Bloom campaign as we notices several notices more in the town asking people to keep the towpath clean.DSCF0904

We stopped for a bit between bridges 14 and 14A to visit Morrisons which is just across the swing bridge, I did consider mooring on the bridge moorings, well we have only seen one boat all day but thought better of it and put a couple of pins in.

Our second bit of classic driving came at Maghull Hall Swing bridge where Diana was operating the electric bridge, She waited for a lull in the traffic before pressing the "Open bridge" button, this set the lights flashing and audible alarms sounding for a few seconds before dropping the barriers, the driver in question just cleared the second barrier as she sped across the bridge against the lights and the barriers starting to move. Just beyond the bridge the canal was bright green with dye, we then spotted 2 CRT chaps back on the bridge so I suspect they were trying to trace a leak in the bank there. I hope I didn't spoil it stirring it up a bit. DSCF0908

We saw quite a mixture of colours of Bluebells, can you call them Bluebells if they are not blue, these were blue, white and a sort of pink/mauve colour.DSCF0906

We decided to moor just before bridge 10, that gives us about half an hours run to bridge 9 in the morning, it was suggested to us by local boaters that this is better as its a more rural mooring, well there are about 20 horses in the fields opposite us. We had to move an obstruction at bridge 11, there was a solid floating bank of weeds rightDSCN2249across the canal and its quite surprising how they slowed the boat down when I hit them to push them through the bridge and to one side.DSCN2250

Today's Journeymap 14 8 miles in 3¼ hours

Friday 27 April 2018

Halsall Friday 27 April 2018

Well as we were moored outside the door of The Slipway pub last night we went in for a meal. DSCF0880As its owned by the Holt Pub Co I did try for a discount but it fell on deaf ears. I had a pie with mash and veg and I must say it was an impressive individual pie, full of meat and thin crisp pastry all over not just a piece of puff floating on top, really enjoyed it.
It turned out to be a very quiet mooring ever though we were nosed up to the swing bridge, there wasn't much road traffic and it doesn't go bump every time a car crosses like some. We woke this morning to gentle rain but at least the wind had dropped. we were in no hurry to leave as we only planed to do a couple of hours. The rain eased away to next to nothing at about twenty to twelve so we pushed off, Diana opened the bridge and we let a boat come by before following them through. As quiet as the road is Diana still stopped 3 cars.
The bridges are quite slow, you press the open button and first the lights flash and sounders go, then after a delay the barriers fall stopping all road traffic. The bridge then jacks up about 50mm before it rotates to the open position. Closing is slightly faster but once the bridge closes it still has to jack down which seems to take forever before the barriers raise and let the traffic flow again.

We hadn't been going long before it started raining properly, real brolly weather. We only met one boat and its seems we have swapped places, they are at The Slipway and we are in Halsall.

We passed an interesting wartime block house that looks to be two story, we only get stumpy ones round our way.DSCF0881

At Scarisbrick they are doing a lot of work on the bridge, the swallow didn't look at all impressed as it flew in and out, maybe it was last years nest site? It loos as if the company doing the work has taken over the yard of the Mersey Motor Boat Club.DSCF0883

After a couple of hours of slow boating we arrived at Halsall which has some reasonable unofficial mooring spots just before bridge 25. The reason for the slow progress is that tomorrow night we want to moor by bridge 10 ready to run into Liverpool Sunday morning and 2 hours is about the minimum I can get away with recharging the batteries, 3 is better.

Today’s Journey map 134½ miles in 2 hours

Thursday 26 April 2018

Burscough The Slipway Thursday 26 April 2018

Last night before going to bed I adjusted the mooring lines and moved the fenders to stop the boat knocking in the breeze, we are moored against very heavy interlocked piling that has deep recesses, it may have been better to have floated our wheelbarrow wheels in the recessed part but I didn't. The end result was I was out side completely starkers in the early hours because the fender was no longer against the piling but in a recess so the boat was banging. Thankfully it was only cool and not raining.

A bit later start today as were weren't in a hurry, first stop just through the bridge at the services to dump rubbish. There were two chaps there repairing the concrete edging and that had to stop while we were there but one kindly took our rope as we came in.DSCF0870

The wind was not quite so strong today, only gusting 27 mph. but we only had a couple of swing bridges to do. I said yesterday this reminds me of Fen Land, well they also farm in a similar way and the wind is also the same.DSCN2245

DSCN2244We met our intrepid surveyors once more working their way down the 11K of canal whizzing back and forth like a water skater.

I managed to get the name of the Bee Farm as we came by, they really do have a good selection of shapes and colours of hives.


Looking across to Burscough on the main line Burscough Mill which has now been converted to flats is quite visible. DSCF0877

We met 2 boats today, one of them being a fellow Blogger and member of the same boat club as me, NB Holderness, the other we met as we were getting ready to leave the top lock. This time there was no irate local complaining the swing bridge was open, thinking about it I don't know why he didn't have the Taxi bring him up the other side of the canal, then he wouldn't have had to cross at all.
CRT have carried out an interesting repair to one of the bottom lock gates where it has snapped through at the heel, at least it keeps the lock in use and will probably last for several years.DSCF0878

Once back on the main line we turned right towards Liverpool once more, we wanted to stop quite soon as the next 2 days are quite short. The only moorings we could see were long term with lots of spaces so we dropped into one of them, ready to move if required, but it has a very sloping stone edge which means the boat is about 400mm from the towpath but the bottom plate is catching the stone work and grinding all the time, so we just stopped for lunch and then continued to the visitor moorings just before Crabtree Swing Bridge which also happens to be the forecourt to The Slipway pub. When we arrived there was only just room for us as Colin on the Wool Boat was there as well, but he has now left so we are on our own. Carol and Colin had their 5 minutes of fame when Tony Robinson visited them while walking the L&L for Ch4.

Today's Journeymap 12 5½ Miles and 7Locks in 4 Hours

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Rufford bridge 8A Wednesday 25 April 2018

We were away at twenty to ten trying to keep ahead of the rain, we needn't have bothered as the sun shone all day. The first swing bridge was a proper one with automatic barriers and bleepers and things. From the time the barriers closed it seemed ages until the bridge swung.DSCF0850

We filled with water at Burscough Junction. The Borough Council have erected a very good information board show transport, pubs, shops etc along the canal.DSCF0853

Just inside the junction is a large disused dry dock surrounded by a row of cottages,

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Just before the first lock is a swing footbridge, Diana opened this before filling the lock and a local arrived in a taxi and went ballistic, he had to use the footbridge at the tail of the lock instead and I even think he then walked down the canal, so no further.

We had to turn all the locks including No. 3 as the boat coming out didn't see us, all the rest were completely empty. We were hoping for company going down as the wool boat stuck their bows through the bridge at the junction, but they were only winding.

Parts of this canal remind me very much of Fen Land with the flat fields and raised railway lines.DSCF0857

We passed a bee farm with an array of different coloured bee hives strung out along the bank, they look as if they are made of plastic which I guess is much cheaper than the traditional wooden ones.DSCF0861

In the distance I spotted a dingy with an outboard engine whizzing across the canal.DSCF0863 It turned out to be two chaps surveying the canal, one on the bank and one in the boat. Every 50 Mt the chap in the boat whizzed over to the far bank holding a measuring tape. he would measure the width of the canal and his comrade on the bank, who had been pushing the wheel measure holding the tape reel. Once this was logged the chap on the bank pulled him back to the towpath with the tape while the chap in the boat checked the depth about 5 or 6 times as he came across, the chap on the bank logging it.DSCF0865 They then move on 50 Mt and do it again, extra readings being taken at bridges. This was following dredging to make sure it was all to spec. We offered them a trip down the lock with us to save them dragging the boat round as they didn't look to have a windlass.DSCN2235

As I said yesterday I was having some new experiences with lock gear and today was no exception with vertical worm drive paddle gear locked off with handcuff locks that were so tight I had to get pliers to turn the key, I gave them a dose of WD40.DSCN2233

Wooden levered top paddles that just rotate over the culvert, I think these are called cloughs and very easy and quick to operate.DSCN2234

We stopped at the visitor moorings in Rufford, we actually we stopped just after Rufford Hall and backed up to the visitor moorings so we could visit the Hall. We timed it just right arriving just before 2pm when the talk about the Hall started. DSCN2238The people who work and volunteer for the National Trust seem much better informed and prepared to give information these days, once upon a time they just stood in the corner looking down at you for daring to come into their houses.

A couple of hours later and we were off again in the sunshine, but with a freshening breeze, heading for Tarleton where we planned to spend the night.

After bridge 10 and the old disused lock you actually leave the canal and join the River Douglas, it looks much rural with no tow path meandering as rivers do, again looking very like the FensDSCN2242

but it is not tidal until after Tarleton Lock where most people consider the river starts. The visitor moorings in Tarleton are just through the swing bridge but the winding hole after the bridge is supposedly only big enough for a 55ft boat, well as I didn't spot the hole before the bridge which is bigger we went through the bridge and winded a 57 foot boat in a 55 foot hole with about 3 foot to spare. We moored up to walk to the lock but our way was thwarted by a boat yard with private signs everywhere.DSCF0869

We weren't over impressed with the area even though the moorings are very good so decided to leave and return to bridge 8A and visit the Rufford Arm and had a very enjoyable meal.

Thorough the day the breeze had been freshening and the canal is very exposed, this resulted in us spending probably 10 minutes escaping from the bank after doing Fearns Swing Bridge as the 30 mph wind held us tight against the bank, I couldn't even spring off. we eventually got off and moored just before bridge 8A. If you fancy a meal in the Rufford Arms cross the bridge and the turn into Sparks Lane following it to the end. We walked to the main road and it wasn't pleasant. The main crops the look to be growing round here are potatoes and onions. The potatoes tops have all been sprayed off but the potatoes not lifted, where as the onions seemed to be just laying on the surface.DSCN2241

Today's Journeymap 11 11 miles, 7 locks in 6½ hours