Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Oop past t’pier

We came up through Wigan today, in case you hadn’t realised…

Another cracking day, very warm, maybe a little too warm. Meg certainly thinks so.

The couple who brought us through Plank Lane yesterday moored in front of us later, so I had a chat and we agreed to share locks today.

Last night’s sunset…

…and setting off this morning under blue skies.DSCF3581

There were two Dover Locks, just beyond Dover Bridge in the distance. Subsidence from the local collieries caused problems with the canal levels, so rather than raise the banks the canal company lowered the level by the simple method of taking out the Dover Locks and installing the Poolstock Locks just this side of Wigan.

Lock gate quoins still in place at Dover No2 LockDSCF3584

Evidence of the lower level can be seen in places where the banks are higher than normal.DSCF3586

Several large flashes flank the canal, the largest being Scotsman’s Flash, with a sailing club.DSCF3587

We arrived at Poolstock Bottom Lock behind a boat with a pair of ladies on board.DSCF3591

I suggested that John and Jean (that’s the couple on the hire boat) go up with them, but they decided to stick with us. So it took some time to fill the lock for the ladies, then drain and refill it for us. But we got there in the end.

Poolstock Top Lock is only a few hundred yards up, out of that one there’s a quarter-mile to the junction with the main line of the L&L.DSCF3593 

Approaching Wigan Junction.
To the right is the bulk of the Wigan Flight of locks, to the left is the final two of the flight as the canal runs through Wigan. That’s our route.

We lost our locking friends here; they’ve got to be back at Anderton for the weekend so turned around to head back. Meanwhile we turned up at Lock 86 (Wigan Lock 22) to find two boats coming up and with a volunteer lock-keeper in attendance. That’s handy, I thought. Mags is still not up to locking. But he was helping a guy with a bad back and was taking him down through the Poolstock Locks after. Not to worry.

I locked us down, and a boat appeared to come up so at least I didn’t have to stop to close the gate.DSCF3596

The final lock of the Wigan Flight lies alongside the dry dock, no sign of any help here and leaky top gates make it slow to empty.

I’d just got back aboard after closing the gate when a boat came around the corner. Sod’s Law, I guess.

There’s a sharp turn just past the new CRT offices at Trencherfield Mill, taking the canal past The Orwell…DSCF3601

…and of course Wigan Pier.


Not much to look at, just a solitary coal staithe but it’s been immortalised by George Orwell as a symbol of working-class struggle during The Depression before WWII.

Another sharp turn takes the canal under Seven Stars Bridge, but the pub it was named after has been demolished following a fire in 2008 which gutted the building.

From here we head back out into the countryside, dropping down Pagefield and Ell Meadow Locks without drama as we’d met a couple of boats coming up so the locks were full and ready for us.

Crooke Marina

They like their fishing in the north…

Rose of Parbold is a charity trip boat out of – well – Parbold. The skipper was taking it very carefully around the blind bends.

We pulled in after what seemed a long day at Gathurst Bridge near what used to be the Navigation Inn but is now an Indian resturant.

Locks 6, miles 7¼

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