Thursday, March 31, 2016

We couldn’t have chosen a better day…

…to drop down the Wigan Locks. Sunny most of the day, hardly any wind, no rain. Excellent.

Our first helper arrived at around 09:00, Paul Balmer had travelled up by train to give us a hand.

We were away soon after, a sharp left turn took us straight into the top lock.IMG_8892

One down, 22 to go!

With Paul closing up and me going ahead to set the locks we made good progress, working from one to another without Mags having to hold off and wait.

Winch assistance for some short balance beams

First view of All Saints, Wigan .

It’s hard to imagine now, but the lock flight was flanked by heavy industry, collieries and steelworks dropping down the slope on the east of the town, cotton mills in and near the centre.

A spoil heap gives a clue…

Jan off NB Waiouru joined us part-way down, and was welcome as Mags was starting to flag. By this time she’d steered through 10 of the locks. So I took over the tiller, leaving Jan with setting up duties.

With a little help from our friends – Jan and Paul at Lock 77IMG_8901

We pulled in for a brew between 77 and 78, then set off on the lower half of the flight. It changes character from here, there’s a cluster of houses around the road crossing at Rose Bridge, then light industry takes over.

Below Rose Bridge
No, I’ve not been cloned. Since the brew-break Paul took the tiller and I resumed with the setting ahead. Meg came off and joined me, but having already spent most of the flight up and down the towpath, she, like her Mum, was feeling the strain. At L82 she sat and refused to follow me down to the next one, only getting up when she realised she’d be left behind!

Tired pooch
She got back aboard and rode the rest of the way.

Lock 85, the last of the Wigan Locks we’ll tackle today, in sight.IMG_8910

It was here we had a bit of a pause, waiting for two boats to come up.IMG_8911
These were the first boats we’d seen, and also the first CRT chap as well!

Down the last lock with a sigh of relief and a brew as we came to the junction at the bottom and turned left onto the Leigh Branch.

Left to Leigh and points south, right to Liverpool.


A little further on we came to the last two locks for some days, at Poolstock.

Poolstock Top Lock, St James’ Church in the backgroundIMG_8918

Quack, quack, quack!


The top lock had been re-gated but the bottom was as leaky as ever, taking all the paddles up put enough water in to counteract the flow out between the bottom gates. But we got there in the end…

Having said goodbye to Jan at the junction, Paul now took his leave, and we set off south between the Wigan flashes, subsidence caused by coal extraction.

Scotsman’s Flash on the right…

…and Pearson’s on the left.

Just over an hour of steady cruising along the wide branch and we arrived at Dover Locks where we called it a day. There are no locks here now, shifts in ground levels due to mining subsidence required a re-alignment of the canal, the locks that were here were moved up to Poolstock.

Cruising through Dover Lock 1

Moored after a long day.
It would have been considerably longer without the assistance of Paul and Jan. Very much appreciated, people!

With the locks out of the way for a while we can make some distance now.

Hiya Sue! Hope we didn't disappoint!

Locks 23, miles 5½

1 comment:

Sue said...

Yeah wonderful.. Thanks Geoff x

I also remember when those flashes were mines and the slag heaps were monstrous. I remember the miners coming out of the pit always with smiling faces so says my memory bank. It was a sort of happy time in that part of the country then.

Great to get help from one of the most mobile volunteer lock helpers today.. Paul loves it and loves to get out and about intermingling with the bloggers. I wondered if Jan stayed at home while Tom gallivanted!.. Got my answer!

Aww poor Meg. I remember Lucy did that one day and refused to move.. OK like you it was a long day. She soon learnt to hop onboard when she got tired... In fact at 9 years old Meg is learning that trick too leaving a bemused Penny out on the path!

South you come then!