This morning we’d intended to move at around half-nine, just as the forecasted showers eased, so we’d have a dry spell for Blackburn Locks. But it was a bit of a shock to get up to a blizzard!
By ten it had eased and we even had a glimmer of sunshine, so we pushed off. It was only a glimmer though. Light rain showers dogged us on the way into Blackburn.
Coming into the town by canal is fairly typical of most. First you have the out-of-town retail parks on the fringes, like where we moored. Then the industrial suburbs, with old factories now demolished or converted into small business units.
Imperial cotton spinning mill.
Built as Apperley’s Corn Mill in 1870, now occupied by small businesses included Granada TV News for the Lancashire region.
The Graham and Brown wallcoverings factory sports a wallpapered phone box!
The final zone is the regeneration band, where earlier housing has given way to modern development.
Those clouds are still full…
We arrived at the top lock in a dry spell, and I changed from heavy jacket to a lighter one, more suitable for lock-work, while the lock was filling.
We were just on the way out of the chamber when another boat arrived behind us, so we waited for them in the second. Sharing the locks on the way down made life a little easier, but I was still busy enough to forget the camera. Hence no pictures till I retrieved it two from the bottom.
In Lock 55, our locking partner below maneuvering to get near the water tap. The work boats moored there don’t help!
Looking back up from L56. There was rubbish all the way down, but it was particularly bad in this one.
Skinny cyclist at the service wharf
A couple of boats appeared coming up, so we had the last lock set in our favour. Then it was the long pound out of Blackburn, past Riley Green and to the top of Johnson's Hillock Locks.
Leaving Blackburn’s bottom
Blue skies for a short while
Riley Green Marina
We pulled in beyond Riley Green Bridge for 20 minutes. Meg and I both needed a comfort break, and since we left the locks the tiller had been vibrating at anything above tick-over, and tick-over itself had reduced our progress to a crawl. A sure sign of a fouled prop.
A bag full of plastic, cloth and weed all bound together with fishing line needed to be removed before it was clean again. The stop also allowed a load of weed from around the sharp end to drift away which would also have hampered our progress.
With Meg and I both emptied, Meg fed and me about to be with a butty and a mug of tea in hand, we set off again.
The left hand, southern bank of the canal starts to rise towards Withnell Fold, the fast running water coming down from Withnell Moor initially providing power for several mills, later converted to steam.
There’s good moorings here for a couple of boats, but it’s a bit gloomy opposite the stone wall of an old mill.
Mum and twins
Don’t guinea fowl look odd…
Arriving at the top of Johnson’s Hillock Locks the long line of moored boats on the towpath side made my heart sink…
…but the visitor moorings are on the offside, just above the lock, and there’s plenty of room.
Phew, we couldn’t have tackled another seven locks today.
We topped up the water tank, then pushed across to moor. It started to rain again, and it’s just stopped. Looks like a clear night ahead.
We seem to have lost our locking partners. We discussed sharing these and maybe Wigan Locks, but they stopped for lunch below Blackburn and we’ve not seen them since! Must have been something I said…
Locks 6, miles 11