Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Water wanted at Wigan.


“Leeds Liverpool Canal & Leigh Branch
Wednesday 2 June 2010 until further notice

Due to low water levels these locks will be closed to allow the pounds sufficient time to recover to navigable levels.
An update will be issued on Thursday 3rd June 2010 at 2pm
Winding can be found below bridge 38 Alder Lane and above Lock 65 Wigan Top Lock

British Waterways apologises for any inconvenience this may cause.”

We came through just in time it seems.
Others were not so lucky. There’s a group heading for Liverpool who are going to exit the docks onto the Mersey, and return to the canal system at Ellesmere Port. Their trip is a bit up in the air now. In the group are friends of ours, Malcolm and Barbara on NB Pilgrim. We met them at Plank Lane Bridge, and had a quick shouted hello as we passed. Then a bit of a longer conversation by phone later.
Good luck with the trip, guys.

NB Pilgrim at Plank Lane

This group aren’t the only ones potentially affected. We passed hotel boats Lady Margaret and Lady Selena (Ladyline) who were taking guests up towards Skipton. They’re looking at plan B, now.

Lady Margaret and Lady Selena near Leigh.
Leigh was the town we passed through today, also swapping from the Leeds and Liverpool back onto the Bridgewater at the same time.
It is well known as a mill town, and several of the mills are still standing, though often without their distinctive chimneys. There are still some left though….

Butts Mill
And Leigh Spinners
I’ve got a thing about these old mills. To me they represent the era when you could say “Great Britain” without a hint of irony. It was an age when we made things, and shipped them around the globe with an extensive merchant marine, protected by a large navy.
I know they were effectively Victorian sweatshops, with conditions that would not be tolerated today, but to the workers they meant at least regular work and an improved standard of living from what was previously a precarious agricultural economy.

The mills seem to have been built with decorative “seams” of lighter brick in the walls. Housing developments on either side of the canal have echoed the theme.

New apartments, old design.
We pulled over just past Bridgewater Marina at Boothstown. We’d arranged for a mail drop at the Post Office here, and I picked up some supplies from the store nearby while I was up there. Open 8 till 8, he seems to stock pretty well everything, food, hardware, paint…. Just not newspapers, though. He explained that it was too much hassle.

Moored near Boothstown
There’s a path on both sides of the canal here, and there are some quiet mooring spots on the offside, between the bushes.

After a coolish, cloudy start, the afternoon has turned sunny and warm. Lovely cruising weather. The first of several days of dry, sunny weather, according to the forecast. Isn’t going to help the water situation though.

Contrail cutting through high cirrus cloud
Locks 0, miles 7½