Friday, July 01, 2022

Into Salthouse Dock

Friday 1st July 2022

Brenda knows that we are VERY near the sea, the ACTUAL sea, but proximity cannot be the reason for the worst bout of sea/motion sickness that she’s had in years. It came on overnight whilst we were moored up! Aaargh.


 

We set off from Litherland at 10:15 for the 60ish minute run to Stanley locks. On arrival we found the top gates open and the volunteer lockies awaiting our arrival, even though it was 75 minutes before our booked time down. As we passed the old Police HQ there were some riggers up the tower working on the cellular aerials.


 

We shared the locks with nb TrickiMicki whose crew had not done the Liverpool link before so were using us as guides. The lockies were cheery and very efficient working us down the four locks into Stanley dock.


 

Apart from 5 minutes of light drizzle as we descended Stanley locks the rest of our run into Liverpool was in dry weather. Turning left at the clock tower we proceeded through Sid’s ditch and past an enormous Cruise liner that towered above the surrounding buildings it was moored alongside. Down through two more locks, which we had been asked to back set for the next boats.


 

At the last lock, we were watched by a large group of school children and their teachers while we worked through. As we left, the kids gave Brenda a rousing round of applause from their viewing gallery. It’s difficult to take a bow whilst wearing a raincoat and steering the boat out of the lock. 


 

Then round two sharp bends into Albert dock before arriving in Salthouse dock where we then turned round and reversed into pontoon S14. We are now here for a full week but will try and blog if we have anything interesting to report.


 

G&B

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Litherland safe-haven

Thursday 30th June 2022

Another quiet night as long as you didn’t take the weather into consideration. Quite a lot of rain fell between dinner and breakfast time with the wind becoming quite noisy as well.



We set off just after 10am, once the skies had started clearing and immediately started meeting the swingbridges for today. a total of six to pass through before we make it to Litherland visitor moorings. We experienced a couple of downpours during this run but the showers soon cleared and bright sunshine followed.


 

One of the winding points we passed has obviously not been used for quite a while. We were pleased that there is no longer limited passage times through Hancock’s swing bridge like there was last time we came this way. The traffic on this road is quite busy so it took a while for Graham to find a gap to open it.


 

As we approached our evening destination we caught up with a wide-beam boat that had passed us very early this morning, and then followed them through the last bridges before mooring to take on water.

Liverpool link tomorrow and into Salthouse dock.

G&B

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Do we need a ship’s cat?

Tuesday 28th June 2022

We has an un-eventful journey back up via the M6 and then cut-across via Parbold, where we found an ice-cream van parked at the viewpoint on the hill. Brenda suggested that as the van was there, getting an ice cream with sauce was traditional – right? After all, we did the same last time we passed here.

We continued on to Jannock to find a black and white cat hanging around, peering in the windows and mewing like mad. While we were bringing all our belongings aboard it decided to come in and join us as it really wanted some fuss and attention. She inspected everything before deciding that Graham’s lap, on the sofa, was better than laying on the bed.


 


Loading and un-loading sorted, we evicted the cat and went to Aldi for shopping. when we returned, via the chip shop, the cat was still there and so we ignored it as we don’t need another one. It was too clean and healthy looking to be homeless. We decided that it must come from the tatty industrial units beside the canal.

Wednesday 29th June 2022

A peaceful night was disturbed only by Brenda’s sneezing and coughing, that’ll teach us to visit the grand children before coming away. As we started to move about, guess who turned up? A certain cat was wanting to join us for breakfast. A passer by told us that the cat was frequently seen on that piece of towpath and was very friendly.

We set off and met very few boats coming the other way today. At about midday we spotted the first signs of sea – wind turbines and dock cranes beyond Haskayne. 


 

We could see rain clouds approaching so we found a quiet spot out in the countryside to stop for lunch. Perfect timing! After lunch we did a few ‘jobs’ until the rain stopped and we set off again. Graham was amazed that the farmers were still irrigating the potato crop during the rain.



Our destination for tonight was Lydiate where we found a nice overnight mooring spot and pegged in just before the heavens opened again.

G&B

Friday, June 17, 2022

On to Burscough Bridge

Friday 17th June 2022

We set off just before 10am and made our way to the first lock of the day, Dean lock. Luckily we only have two to do today. Here we met up with nb Abraxus, with whom we cruised last July on the Leicester Arm. They were off up the Rufford Arm and had a deadline to get to a pre-booked mooring and so at Appley Lock we let them go ahead with the single boat already there waiting to pass through.


 

There is some lovely mature woodlands along the Douglas valley. Brenda heard a woodpecker at work and wondered whether the bird identity app had that in it’s database, but we didn’t get chance to try. Then we saw a large terrapin taking the sun on a floating log – wildlife indeed.


 

We leapfrogged with another jolly crew until they also made off up the Rufford Arm leaving us to proceed into Burscough Bridge. All of the moorings before the bridge were taken as it appeared that a boat club jolly had moved into town. We cruised under the bridge and past the permanent moorings to find a spot, exactly the right size, between two other moored boats on the next 14 day spot.


 

The boat behind us was also Liverpool bound but would be leaving the docks on the same day as we are scheduled to enter. When the owners of the boat in front returned, they enquired whether we had used a bow thruster to get into such a tight gap but Graham told them we didn’t have one and had reversed in using a rope to finish.

We then started packing ready to return home for ten days once Graham had fetched the car from Barnton.

G&B

Thursday, June 16, 2022

On to Crooke

Thursday 16th June 2022

After a quiet night – both for sounds that keep one awake and Graham’s night shift – we sett off just after the scaffolders arrived at the house opposite our mooring and started clanking about.

We cruised to Leigh, where a Sports Direct was observed next to Tesco and so we pulled over just after the bridge. You have to pass Alde to get to Sports Direct and so Brenda re-provisioned there whilst Graham went to get new trainers. We plan to also visit Nando’s and Bon Marche’ on our return trip (long story – don’t ask)

Onto Plank lane (swing – in Nicks, lift in reality) bridge where Graham hopped off to annoy the traffic whilst Brenda held back to await the bridge opening. She found it difficult to get Jannock off the bank and the engine was accompanied by a loud metallic clonking noise. She slowly edged her way through the bridge using as little throttle as possible and then Graham did a weed hatch trip once the bridge had been returned to vehicle mode. It turned out that we had collected a landing net around our prop complete with metal frame holding the net open.


 

Onwards to Poolstock locks which had been closed earlier in the week due to water shortages in the pound between locks 1 and 2. An email had announced it open again from 09:00 this morning but when we got there the pound was exceedingly low. The bottom gates of No2 lock leak water as fast as one ground paddle and one gate paddle combined can fill. Therefore both side need to have the paddles opened to fill the lock. We finally passed through No 2 but Jannock went aground just as she was entering No1 so Graham had to run some water through to refloat her.

Up to Wigan junction and turn left towards Liverpool. Down the two Wigan locks which also had badly leaking bottom gates making to top gates very difficult to open. At Pagefield lock we found a couple of young boys jumping into the water and swimming in the lock. They got out to let us pass through and even helped by opening the offside gates. We discussed whether it was good to be swimming in such manky water but it was only when the lock emptied that the corpse of a long dead mammal was exposed stuck in the baffles of the top gate paddle that they became concerned. It could have been either a dog or a young badger.


 

We stopped for the night at Crooke and visited the Crooke Hall Inn for dinner on recommendation of No1 son Simon. An excellent meal was had with entertainment provided after outside by a Traditional English dance group dressed all in black and accompanied with lots of whooping and bashing of sticks.


 

G&B

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Trafford Park

Wednesday 15th June 2022

A late start for a short run today – Shopping to do (we hope) and then good mobile coverage needed for tonight’s blood bike controlling duty.


 

We had a very pleasant cruise through Sale and Stretford to Waters Meeting where we turned left towards Wigan rather than our usual right towards Manchester centre.

Brenda was disappointed when we passed the Kellogg's factory, soon after the junction, as there was not a whiff of freshly toasted cereal as we have experienced before.


 

We moored up at the entrance to the Trafford centre, had lunch and then went in search of trainers. As we approached an information point, we thought “get a map as the floors are so vast” It turns out that Sports Direct, from whom Graham wanted to get his trainers, is in the Trafford retail park and not the centre. Too far to walk so we gave up and returned to Jannock. Overheard at the exit to the Trafford centre – an Australian accent declaring “I didn’t know that a shopping centre could be so beautiful”


 

We then passed over the Barton swing aqueduct and continued on to Worsley where we moored for the night before the centre. Coverage checked and pins banged in to make it permanent for the night.


 

We have been very happy to find very very little rubbish in the Bridgewater canal so far.We’re sure its due to the efforts of many volunteer litter pickers.

G&B

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

A day of stopping.

Tuesday 14th June 2022

Last night, we moored just before Grappenhall Bridge (17). the towpath was busy with runners, walkers and dogs but proved to be a very quiet overnight stay.


 

We enjoyed an evening stroll around ‘old’ Grappenhall, past the old rectory which is now a nursing home conveniently next to the grave yard. There are some lovely old buildings and an interesting ‘old lodge’ in this pleasant cobbled part of the town. Then into the Parr Arms, one of the two lovely pubs here, for a pint and then back down the cobbled street to the boat.

Today was a day for short runs to the next stop. We started off doing the three miles into Lymm where we stopped to get milk. Graham stayed on the boat to do engineery things whilst Brenda fetched the shopping from Sainsburys.  As we passed Lymm Cottage, the lovely home owned until recently by Matthew Corbett – Sooty’s ‘keeper’, we heard a large loud gruff bark and decided that Sweep has been on the fags and booze again. Then onto Lloyds bridge (24) where we stopped again, this time for a pump-out and for Brenda to buy some books from the charity book stall.


 

Once Jannock’s starboard list had been removed we then continued on and stopped at Hesford Marine where we filled with diesel at £1.45P/L (60/40 rate) and Graham bought a rubber fender. Then onto the water point adjacent to the Olde No 3 pub to refill the water tank. While Graham filled the water tank, Brenda filled the swans and cygnets. With everything emptied or replenished we continued on for a short distance to moor for the night between Dunham Woodhouse underbridge (26B) and Dunham Town bridge (27) so that we could visit Dunham Massey hall. Graham wanted to practice flying his drone and then we walked around the deer park.


 

We decided to wander down to the Vine pub for dinner tonight, apparently 1/4 mile from bridge 26B but when we got there we found that they were not doing food tonight. They suggested the Rope and Anchor which was another 1/3 mile up the road where we had an excellent meal accompanied by mediocre ales. After a boozy dessert to make up for the beer we then completed the circle by walking to bridge 27 to return to Jannock.

G&B

Monday, June 13, 2022

Preston Brook and onto the Bridgewater

Monday 13th June 2022

We are using an ‘app’ new to us. It’s called Merlin Bird ID and is brilliant and free. You can use it to listen or look at pictures to identify wild birds you can hear or see. Last night, we recorded for 26 seconds to try and identify what bird was singing outside the boat – during that time it identified a long tailed tit, a eurasian blackbird, a common wood pigeon as well as the song thrush which was the bird we wanted identifying.

We also tried using the picture of the bird in the top left corner of yesterdays tree carving picture. Graham thought it was a raptor of some sort and Brenda thought it was a Red Kite. All of the suggestions the app made were likely to have escaped from captivity if it was going to be right. Much better quality photos required!

We set off from a very peaceful overnight mooring and made our way past Acton Bridge Black Prince yard - they’ve changed their logo and the colour scheme of their boats – boo!  Just north of here CaRT are installing piling - I hope it'll be for public use and not restricted to boat yard moorers.


 

Then on towards Preston Brook tunnel where we passed through the stop lock at 11am, just as the two boats waiting fror the tunnel were untying. Unfortunately, once we had travelled about halfway through at normal speed we caught them up and found that the leading boat was the same one that held us up at Saltersford yesterday. The second half of Preston Brook tunnel was done on tick-over.

 

Once out, the boat immediately in front of us pulled over to moor whilst the leading boat turned left towards Runcorn. We continued on through a 16 peg fishing match, where we spotted this wonderful fishing hat being sported by one of the competitiors before arriving at Walton Hall where we moored just past bridge Hough’s bridge (13)

 


We have passed this place many times before and always wondered what was there. A Cheshire CC run estate, previously owned by the Greenall family, it is now a free visitor attraction with gardens, a children’s zoo and playpark. We had a good walk around both zoo and gardens and then ended our visit by buying a Mr Whippy ice cream before heading back to the boat. Brenda was happy because she could have ‘sherbet and sauce’ on hers.


 

We then moved on and moored for the night just before Grappenhall bridge (17) as we liked the description in Nicks of the area around St Wilfreds church so fancy a walk around there after dinner.

G&B

Sunday, June 12, 2022

A two tunnel afternoon.

Sunday 12th June 2022

Ready for our next hop northwards, we arrived at Jannock at 3pm having stopped for supplies and a ‘two teas and toasted teacakes please’ in Middlewich Morrisons.

On our descent down the Anderton Lift last week, one of the caissons had hiccoughs and took two goes to get going. This week it is running with only one caisson in operation due to repairs being required.

Having moved all our possessions onto the boat using the festival cart, we set off to pass through both Barnton and Saltersford tunnels to moor for the night out in the countryside.


 

Barnton tunnel is not ‘time controlled’ and so once we could see that no-one was coming the other way we entered. Part way through, a southbound boats headlight appeared at the other end so Graham sounded a long horn blast which stopped him in his tracks.


 

We thanked him as we left the tunnel and then arrived at Saltersford tunnel just as the big hand reached the 12 which meant we could go straight in behind the two boats that had been waiting there. Unfortunately the first boat was very slow and so we did the full length of the tunnel on tick-over.


 

We then passed these tree sculptures before going under under bridge 204 (Daleford House) and tied up against the bank for the night just as it started to rain – excellent timing today.

G&B

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Back up Anderton Lift

Saturday 28th May 2022

We left our overnight mooring and headed towards the lift in sun-shine! We’d booked for a 10am ascent but when we arrived we were asked if we’d object to going up at 09:15 as there was only one boat booked in for that trip up, so we went straight in and up.


 

Moored at the bottom of the lift was the Daniel Adamson, complete with a stoker blackened with coal dust. The stewards were just arriving as we ascended, to get ready for a trip down the Weaver with paying guests. Last time we saw her, she was stranded the other side of the broken lock on the Weaver and looking sad. Today she was steaming and open for business – excellent


 


 

Some new cuddly crew members joined us once they had been liberated from the Anderton visitor centre gift shop. Brenda (trying to emulate Pamela Stephenson, who always took pictures of her crew during her South Sea adventure) used the ‘posh’ camera for a crew photo – it showed off by telling her that faces had been detected, a bright yellow and pink toy cat, a knitted monkey, two cuddly ducks, a swan and a kingfisher. That must be beak recognition mode then. Worryingly, the camera refused to take the picture as a blink had been detected. Really! Which one of you blinked – own up!


 

Out of the lift, we winded opposite the entrance and set off North towards Barnton where Graham had positioned the car just after Saltisford tunnel. However, we found a much better 14 day mooring before Barnton tunnel alongside a layby where the car could be positioned for loading purposes. The festival trolley came into it’s own moving all our washing, food etc to the car once Graham had retrieved it.

Then home for a couple of weeks for important events etc.

G&B

Friday, May 27, 2022

Down onto the Weaver


Friday 27th May 2022

Last night we decided that as we were running ahead of schedule we would book the Anderton lift down onto the Weaver to return on Saturday. If nothing else, it was good use of our extra days and at £10 for both trips, it was cheaper than a funfair ride. The Weaver also meant the Graham could wash some of that orange muck from Jannock’s roof and sides using cleaner river water.

There were plenty of early boats passing us before we set off this morning. It was clear that most of the boats that passed us at normal cruising speed were privateers. One steerer had a most impressive bow wave and seemed to be tacking – he was engrossed in a call on his mobile phone. Ironically it was the hire boats making their way back to base at Anderton that were the ones slowing down to pass us – just saying ……..


 

We were the only boat on our 10:45 transit down to the River Weaver on the lift. Even after our 3rd trip down on Jannock it still feels special.

We approached Northwich town pontoon moorings pleased to see that there was plenty of room. Unfortunately all of the gaps were too short to get a boat into as the boats already there had tied up so far apart.

Since we needed to get the Di Blasi off the boat to move the car, tying up against the high wall was not an option and so Graham reversed Jannock into the gap between the pontoon and the river wall and tied to the sliding pillar. The front end was then tied to the wall. The smart live-aboard that was on the end of the moorings had her garden chairs, faux lawn and drinks table set up on the pontoon. She didn’t look too pleased when we tied up against her ‘garden’.


 

After lunch, Graham went and fetched the car from Church Lawton and Brenda went for a mooch around the shopping centre finishing at Asda where the larder was re-provisioned. After a couple of shops and a busker, Brenda realised how much she dislikes the constant sound of muzak and how she doesn’t miss constant urban noise when we are cruising.


 

Shopping and shuffling completed, we left the pontoon and returned back downstream to the country park pontoons where there was plenty of space. Graham washed Jannock and then we had dinner.

G&B

Thursday, May 26, 2022

All our ducks in a row.

Thursday 26th May 2022

Grey skies are going to clear up – put on a happy face … or so they said. Tomorrow, tomorrow, the sun will come out tomorrow ….

It was a morning of squally showers with the wind mostly at 90 degrees to Jannock’s route. Never the less, we made very good time with all of the locks being in our favour due to some in-considerate southbound boater leaving all the top gates open from Crows Nest to Rumps lock. At Middlewich we met a southbound boat leaving Kings lock and then found CaRT vo-lockies on all three of the Middlewich locks. Brenda managed to execute the sharp bend between the top lock and second with perfect precision.


 

This had us at a good mooring by 12o’clock which was deemed to early to moor up even if Graham wanted to do a car shuffle from Church Lawton. Sadly no sign of the Tam-Lin crew as they are off to Scotland for a steam train trip.

On then through glorious countryside with a quick stop at the council tip to recycle our rubbish. The scenery gradually changed from lovely country side with side flashes where we remember seeing abandoned working boats many years ago and into big industrial landscape.


 

Old chemical works are being pulled down and replaced by new ones being built. many new homes now exist where people have worked for centuries, taking salt from underground. There is even a new marina being built near basin bridge. Brenda loved this sign approaching the Tata salt works.


 

The weather brightened during our journey until about 3 o’clock when it turned very grey again and then poured down for about an hour. During this deluge Graham managed to find a suitable overnight mooring spot and tie us up with no help from the wind or rain.

The minute we were safely tied up and he had stripped out of his soaked attire, the rain stopped and the sun came out for the rest of the evening.

G&B

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Cheshire locks

Wednesday 25th May 2022

After a lovely sunny blue skied evening last night, followed by a good nights sleep in a lovely quiet mooring – today we woke to ‘grey out’!  Waterproofs at the ready, we set off expecting a very lock heavy day. For most of the day we had all of the weather for most of the time.


 

At our very first lock we saw what we believe to be the most useless CaRT sign ever. Of course the lock is closed, it has no gates and it totally overgrown.


 

We continued on past Rhode Heath and Hassell Green and had done twelve locks, luckily meeting southbound traffic making passage easier, before we pulled over for lunch immediately after passing beneath the M6 motorway.


 

It was after lunch that I spotted this excellent spelling mistake on a commercial vehicle – how can mistakes like this get past management, printers and the people who actually livery the vehicle without being spotted?


 

The basin at Malkins Bank was full of working boats as usual. I must research to find out which canal carrying company had their base here.


 

We stopped at Wheelock for a water fill and then continued on into the countryside before mooring in the middle of no-where for another quiet night. Once stopped, Graham did some work on the Di Blasi carburetor ready for tomorrow’s planned car shuffle.

G&B