Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Margaret's visit

Margaret arrived safely at Barnoldswick and parked in the marina car park with no problems - I was slightly concerned there might not be room as a crane was coming in on Monday ruling out parking in some areas.  It is good to see her again.

She gets on with the important tasks straight away.

We decide to stay put for the night and receive a late call from Margaret's daughter, Kathryn, that she is intending to drive down with her family the next day - an 8 hour round trip!  They have tried to find a nearby campsite but everywhere is full.  What a lovely surprise.
Saturday morning we head down towards Foulridge.  There is a winding (turning) hole shown before the tunnel but I am a bit concerned it will be difficult because of moored boats.  Another boater has told me of a possible winding before I get there - just after the old Yorkshire sign (the boundary has since been changed).  He says to watch for a holly bush and head my bows for it.  I spot a likely point with a stream coming in over a small waterfall - should be plenty of depth ther.  No - I go aground.  She comes off OK and a second attempt has the same result.  Margaret goes up to the bows and says there is no sign of a holly bush.  We go on a little bit and I spot the holly bush and turn round with no problem.  Moor at the Anchor Inn, Salterforth ( from Salters' Ford) and phone Kathryn to suggest they come there, where they can leave the car for the afternoon.

The kids waste no time starting to play on the chute!

The real kids, Callum and Cameron enjoying themselves - I was in a strict advisory role.


We have a very nice meal at the Anchor - an historic building.  When the canal was built the water levels were too high so a new pub was built on top of the old one.  The old pub is now the cellar, with the original packhorse road running through it with lots of stalactites and stalagmites.
The new skipper

Margaret has not forgotten how to work the locks.

It is a lovely stretch of the canal

All too soon the family have to leave for home and we moor at the Cross Keys, East Marton and partake of some refreshment.  There is quite a large wedding party (the church is very near) and the bride and groom have been transported by decorated narrowboat and Land Rover.

After a night at the same spot as I moored with Andrew and Michelle we reach Gargrave where this  sign amused us.  Margaret's brother, David and his wife Anne who live nearby, are coming for the day and will take Margaret back to her car.  We catch up on a few years news over a meal at the Old Swan (under very new management).  Margaret and I ate here the night before and the food is good quality and value.  Thanks for lunch David.

Anne cannot resist buying a lovely carved bowl from a trading boat whose name I did not note and Margaret got a carved toadstool for the garden.  Very nice guy and it was good to give him some trade.

 Gargrave is a very attractive village - these houses were built in 1690.

David looking rather puzzled at one of the locks - he did all the work on the flight.  A very picturesque set of locks.

After our goodbyes, I travel a short way and spend a couple of nights in yet another lovely spot.

13 miles; 15 locks
TOTAL:  491 miles (192 miles broad, 40 miles river); 244 locks (111 broad); 37 moveable bridges

Friday, 26 July 2013

Back at Barnoldswick

Posted Sunday 4 August - I am behind again!

I spent another night at Barnoldswick but may have become a bit confused about where I am exactly.

It is  a lovely day on Wednesday and I cannot resist the temptation to have a short cruise and suss out possible mooring spots for when Margaret arrives. 
Double arched bridge at East Marton
I intend to turn at the winding hole before the Bank Newton locks and it is a lovely spot to stop for lunch.  I am debating whether to stay here for the night or go back to Barnoldswick when the decision is made.  Round the bend comes NB Ashdown with my New Zealand friends Michele and Andrew  I knew they were headed this way but had not expected to meet them so soon. 
Out come the chairs, the beer and the whisky.
Michele's photo but I am sure she will not mind me pinching it.

Andrew making friends with James - or is it James making friends with Andrew?

End of a great day.
On my way - by Michele

Michele and Andrew decide to stay put for at least another night so I head off.  The canal sticks to the contours here and it bends right back on itself so it is half a mile to travel 100 yards as the crow flies.

On Friday morning, which I had intended to spend getting pump out, water, cleaning boat etc. before Margaret arrives, I discover the cabin bilges have a lot of water - from my friend on the Wigan flight, no doubt.  And my hand pump decides to call it a day.  I try repairing it without success and start hand bailing but it is going to be a very long job.  Fortunately Wayne at Lower Park Marina has one which he lends me - many thanks.  But that is the morning gone.

12 miles; 6 locks
TOTAL:  478 miles (179 miles broad, 40 miles river); 229 locks (96 broad); 37 moveable bridges

Monday, 22 July 2013


I had not realised that I am now on the summit of the canal - the next lock is going down.

I make it through the 1640 yard Foulridge tunnel without hitting the sides - it was built to accommodate a wide beam boat so plenty of room.  And dead straight so you can see the light at the end of the tunnel (groan). It seems to take an age before the light gets any bigger.  Apparently it can be very wet but thanks to the recent dry weather there are only a few drips.  About twenty minutes to get through.


I stop at the end of the tunnel to fill up with water and reward myself with an ice-cream at the cafe/bar.  They actually have a dog menu with biscuits etc. but James gets an ice-cream as well.  Needless to say he loved it and so did I - narrowly avoided licking his by mistake after it was half gone!  The stretch after the tunnel is supposedly beautiful.  Unfortunately it is very hazy so no photos but I may well return with Margaret at the weekend.  The marina at Barnoldswick has run out of gas but say I can stay the night as there is a delivery tomorrow morning.  They are also happy for Margaret to leave her car here for a few days.  So that is sorted.

4 miles; 0 locks
TOTAL:  466 miles (167 miles broad, 40 miles river); 223 locks (90 broad); 37 moveable bridges

Friday, 19 July 2013

Barrowford Locks

It was such a lovely spot at Clayton-Le-Moors (and it was very hot for cruising) that I stayed a few days.  Great spot for James with open fields where he could run about to heart's content.  When not playing with his ball he found it great fun chasing the swallows - video here
James also took the opportunity to become a fully fledged boater - he fell in.  It is said you are not a 'proper' boater until you have been in the 'cut'.  He was off the lead, on the towpath, and unusually behind, rather than ahead of, me.  When I looked round he was nowhere to be seen.  At least I have discovered he can swim.  His harness was invaluable in being able to haul him out, given the steep sides.  I had been thinking of giving him a shower but this settled it, as just where he fell in there was the remains of a sheep carcase in the water - no doubt one of the attractions that led to the immersion.  
I decide it is time to move on and make an 0630 start to travel in the cooler temperature of the morning. 

Into Burnley and it is rather sad to see one after another derelict buildings and wonder what it must have been like in its heyday.   There is one very large development going on which looks like it is going to be a shopping complex.  You can read about the history of the town and the importance of the canal here  Cotton mills were the main industry.

Burnley Wharf c.1910

Burnley Wharf c1910.  The last of the cotton-based industries closed in 1990.

This area has already been redeveloped into what is known as the "Weaver's Triangle". I am kicking myself for not stopping but was well past it before I read my guide and realised what it was.

What was no doubt considered luxury accommodation for the workers, when they were built, one of these 2 bedroomed terrace houses can be yours for £12k.

Burnley Embankment 

I moor up at the remarkable embankment.  Almost a mile long it was a fantastic engineering feat and demonstrates the importance of the Burnley cotton trade.

Burnley Embankment

The aqueduct carrying the canal across one of the main roads.  I walk to the town centre to stock up at the home-brew shop and refresh myself with a pint at Wetherspoons for a remarkable £1.87.

I travel on to Nelson and Morrison's, which has secure canal-side moorings where I can get the trolley right down to the boat - I bought far too much!
It is now late afternoon and very hot and I hope to find a decent mooring before the 7 lock Barrowford flight. Unfortunately nothing that I fancy so I start up and encounter problems straight away - the first two locks take me over an hour and a lot of sweat!  At the third lock there are a crowd of teenagers lounging about and jumping in the lock.  They seem OK so while this lock is emptying, I walk the short distance to the next to set it in my favour.  I open the sluices but, before I can open a gate, I notice two of the lads walking down in the direction of the boat, which I cannot see from where I am.  I hastily walk back and, sure enough, there they are on the stern of the boat.  Hopefully James (he was inside the boat) has put up a good defence of my possessions!  I need not have worried - the lads were only in search of somewhere out of the wind to snort a line of cocaine.  They even apologised!
As I am about to fill the fourth lock I hear a shout - another boat has caught up with me and I am so pleased to wait and share the lock with them.  I had intended to moor up after the fourth lock (it is a long enough pound) but take the opportunity to travel with them to the top of the flight.

And I am glad I did.  Not only did we work the locks well together, it is a lovely spot and lots of good walks for James.

The reservoir, which I am told feeds the bottom 3 locks, is quite a bit down.  Locks are being restricted to 10am until 8pm from Monday but from the amount of water going down the by-washes, I am not sure why.

I think I will be here a couple of days.  No hurry as my cousin, Margaret, is coming down from Scotland next Friday and I know she would not want to miss the experience of the 1640 yard Foulridge Tunnel - if she thought I meant that I would have no hope of seeing her!

14 miles; 7 locks
TOTAL:  462 miles (163 miles broad, 40 miles river); 223 locks (90 broad); 37 moveable bridges

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Stopped before Burnley

And what a fantastic spot, again thanks to Canal World Forum.
A photograph cannot do it justice.
Three swing bridges today.  At the first one there are a load of lads mucking about on motorbikes and roaring across the bridge and up the canal path.  At least there is a place to moor on the operational side of the bridge so I tie up and approach with some trepidation.  It was unjustified and one of the lads warns that if I leave my boat there it will be crushed by the bridge.  He is right - I thought the bridge would open the other way, but if I leave it on the bollards the bridge will hit it.  What is the point of the bollards!!!  I mange to secure the centre rope to the first bollard which should keep the boat back far enough from the bridge.  He offers to work the bridge for a fiver - my reply is that if I paid a fiver for every bridge I would soon run out of money.  I cannot move the bridge on my own and two of them help - without payment - and close it behind me - thank you.  The next two bridges pose no problems - except one will not stay open but that is a simple matter of tying it off with a rope.

A rare sight in these parts - another boat!


There are fields opposite the canal where James can chase his ball and run about to his hearts content.  He spends a good quarter of an hour chasing swifts at full tilt.  Not surprisingly he did not catch any!

It is a lovely spot, with good TV and internet reception so I will be staying put for a couple of days.  At last I have got the blog up to date - hopefully it will remain so.

4 miles; 0 locks; 3 moveable bridges
TOTAL:  448 miles (149 miles broad, 40 miles river); 216 locks (83 broad); 37 moveable bridges

Friday, 12 July 2013

Survived Blackburn

A long and tiring day.
Four miles to the start of the Blackburn flight of 6 locks.  I delay my departure in the hope another boat will appear but no luck so I start out on my own.  It is not so much sharing the work but more for the company in case there are any local youths about although, so far, I have encountered no problems and have had help from a lot of the lads.  Chatting to them as equals works wonders.
At least there are three boats coming down so I can go straight into the second lock without setting it and the rest of the locks should be in my favour - some hope as it turns out.
The third lock is full so I empty it and go in.  There are a group of over a dozen youngsters lazing around so rather than do as I normally would and fill the lock, then walk up the short distance to set the next one, I leave the lock empty, with the boat in it, and go up and open the paddles on the next lock, which was also full. Mistake!  As I walk back to the boat I notice there seems to be rather a lot of water on the ground round the lock.  As I get nearer I can see water pouring over the gates and sides.  I start to run, much to the amusement of the lads.  Fortunately the boat has stayed back, away from the torrents pouring over the sides - another lesson learned.  I have to wade almost up to my ankles to get the top gates open and confirm my boots are not waterproof.  At least a couple of the lads shut the gates after me and they are enjoying the paddling pool created.
The rest of the locks are all full so a lengthy process.  These locks (and most in this area) are supposed to be "vandal proof" requiring a "handcuff key" to open, but many of the anti vandal locks do not work and it is likely some of the locals have opened the paddles to alleviate the boredom.

Blackburn is interesting but not somewhere I would want to linger too long.  I do take the opportunity to stop right next to B&Q, to get a new hose-reel, and Asda to get well stocked up.

I start looking for somewhere to moor but there is little that looks attractive.  I have a place marked on my map which someone on the CanalWorld Forum recommended but it is some way away.  I open the throttle and exceed the speed limit for a while - until my engine overheats.  No alternative but to turn it off and wait for it to cool down.  I discover the next day the reason was rope, cloth and plastic bags wound round the prop-shaft. 

I arrive at the moorings after 2230 so get a chance to use my navigation lights!  I must say I did enjoy the evening cruise with the sun setting.

As promised they are lovely moorings and were worth pressing on for.  The moors are starting to come into view.

This part of the Leeds and Liverpool has no locks and follows the contour.  Here it bends back on itself and there is a nice walk from where I am to the canal at Church.  A half mile walk but two miles by canal.  There are a lot of horses and foals in the fields on the way.

11 miles; 6 locks
TOTAL:  444 miles (145 miles broad, 40 miles river); 216 locks (83 broad); 34 moveable bridges

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Approaching Blackburn

After another night at Haigh Hall and a beautiful sunset, I enjoy 9 miles of lock free cruising before mooring just below the bottom lock of the Johnson's Hill flight of 7 locks.  Get chatting to very nice couple, Rick and Gill, on Nots O Swift and we agree to tackle the locks together in the morning.  We just get in the first lock before another two boats appear - as it transpires, I wish we had let them go first.

There is a shortage of water again, even worse than Wigan and this pound (the stretch between locks) was completely dry - Rick has gone ahead to let water down and you can just make out the water gushing into the next lock in the middle of the picture.

Rick and Gill live in Spain and are picking up 3 Spanish friends for a couple of nights on their boat.  They arrive near the top lock and we all adjourn to the Top Lock pub for some reward.  English is the order of the day as Gill is teaching two of them English back in Spain.  They set off while I give James a walk before following on.  Strangely enough I find them moored up at the next pub.  Moorings are full but I find a pleasant spot a bit further on and moor up for the night.  It would be rude not to walk back and share another pint, wouldn't it?

5 miles; 7 locks
TOTAL:  433 miles (134 miles broad, 40 miles river); 205 locks (77 broad); 34 moveable bridges

Wigan Locks

8 July

I survived the 23 locks - just!  Teamed up with Richard & Sue (forgot to note their boat name).  It was lucky we arrived at the same time as there was very little traffic.  Only one boat went down and no sign of any coming after us.
It took 7.5 hours for the 21 flight, including a lunch break.  Main reason was low water in the pounds - we went aground a few times which necessitated going up to the next lock and opening the paddles to let more water down - which meant the next pound was emptied.  With another person we could have sent someone ahead but with just 3 of us it did not seem practical.  Even got a bit of help from a couple of local lads in return for letting them travel up a bit on my boat - boredom soon set in though and off they went to relieve the boredom by jumping in the locks.  Their favourite is to open a top paddle, jump in and get washed down to the ladder - youth has no concept of danger!  This no doubt is one of the causes of the low water!
A welcome rest for lunch.
If I ever do the flight again I will do it going down to alleviate the low water risk.

Moored up in a lovely spot at Haigh Hall Country park, with the luxury of pilings which I have not had for weeks.  Golf course on the left.

One disaster was losing my hose reel.  Richard opened one of the top paddles (bottom one was not working) a bit quick and it must have been washed off the top of the gas locker and none of us noticed until I went to fill up at the top of the flight.  Also gave the carpet in the bedroom a soaking! Another lesson learned.

5 miles; 23 locks
TOTAL:  428 miles (129 miles broad, 40 miles river); 198 locks (54 broad); 34 moveable bridges

Back to Parbold and Scotsman's Flash

2-7 July

My dongle is still not working so another trip to Southport, on the train this time, to the 3 shop.  After some time someone spots I have inserted the sim card the wrong way round!  One would imagine you would insert it with the cut-off corner first, leaving the 3 logo showing.  NO!  The 3 logo is hidden and the cut-off corner showing.  Why this was not suggested during my hours on the phone to India or spotted on my previous visit to a 3 shop will remain a mystery.

Old windmill, now an art gallery

I make an appointment at the very nice vets in Parbold for James to have his second inoculation and spend another pleasant couple of days there.

I decide to moor at Scotsman's Flash, where I was two weeks ago, prior to my ascent of the 21 lock Wigan flight.  I had hoped to stop at the CaRT moorings in Wigan to stock up at Asda but the moorings are full so on to the Flash.  I had a bit of a nightmare getting moored - Jim and I must have been lucky to find the only two spots without obstructions.  The wind is blowing off the towpath but I manage to get moored - aground a few times, slewing across canal and boat pole required.  All good (or is it bad) experience!

Looking across the flash with some yacht racing going on.  With the weather and on a Sunday, the towpath was very busy, which did not suit James too well.  I found a Tesco Express about 15 minutes walk away, so managed to get the basic requirements - whisky and tobacco - and some extras like bread and milk.

14 miles; 8 locks; 3 moveable bridges
TOTAL:  423 miles (124 miles broad, 40 miles river); 175 locks (31 broad); 34 moveable bridges


25 June - 1 July

James change of food is proving successful and things are getting back to normal - fortunate with Frank and June about to join me.  I travel down to Burscough which seems a very suitable place to pick my friends up and for them to leave their car.

Interesting home made boat on the way, with a piano on the stern - or is it the bow!

Add caption

The entrance to the Rufford branch which leads to the River Ribble link, providing access to the Lancaster canal.  Boats can only pass for a couple of hours either side of high tide so access is restricted and has to be booked.  I tried twice but there were no vacancies until September.

Very attractive cottages by the side of the lock.

Frank & June arrive safely.  We have an excellent meal at the Blue Mallard on Friday evening - the early bird special, with two courses for £12.95.  I had chicken livers followed by belly of pork and it was superb.  June reckoned it was the best meal she had ever had.  I had intended to have a pump out before they arrived but have not been able to find any facilities so first on the agenda is travelling down to Scarisbrick Marina, whom I have phoned to check they can do a pumpout.  Unfortunately when we arrive, most of the staff have gone to a boat festival and will not be back until late tomorrow.  The only person who can operate it is the chef - the two occupations do not go well together!  He is kind enough to agree to do it after he comes off duty at 4pm.  We take the opportunity to have an excellent breakfast at the marina cafe before travelling down to the Ship Inn for some lunchtime refreshment.

Frank enjoyed the power to stop the traffic at the powered swing bridges - he managed to hold up 17 cars at one.

Pump out complete, gas replenished and diesel topped up, we travel back to the Farmers Arms, just before Burscough, to moor up for the night and enjoy the best burgers I have had since America.

Coffee break

On Sunday we stop temporarily at Burscough to take the car into Southport, where I want to visit the 3 shop in yet another attempt to get my internet dongle working.  I get yet another sim card to try.

We moor for the night at the Ring O,Bells pub and enjoy another splendid meal.  Frank and June cannot believe the quality of English pubs, compared to Scotland - fortunately they have all been good ones! 
Frank does very well at the tiller - he says it is just like reversing artics!

Back at Burscough on Monday night for them to make an early start on Tuesday morning to travel home - but not before another visit to the Farmers Arms for another helping of burgers!

It has been lovely having them and I think they enjoyed their time on the boat:

Frank's favourite occupation

June's favourite occupation
26 miles; 0 locks; 14 moveable bridges
TOTAL:  409 miles (112 miles broad, 40 miles river); 167 locks (31 broad); 31 moveable bridges