Sunday, 30 September 2012

Thursday 27th Sept - The Leigh Branch – Both Companies

So we set off on the Leigh Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, making Plank Lane at dusk and the needed water point. A hot shower being most welcome after a day of 23 locks.
Plank Lane – you can just see the Winter Hill TV mast lit in red.

One of the most helpful facilities BW offer via Waterscape is their Stoppage Alerts. Most do not affect us – however, on this occasion, the information about the breaches and erosion at Dutton and Croxton on the northern Trent and Mersey were directly relevant as this was to be our way back to Audelm.
Alas, the information available gave us the news that a Plan B was needed.
See this link for the Dutton breach:
And so we cruised the Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal heading for an early finish at Castlefield.

Worsely Dry Docks
Typical of the Bridgewater – cranes for the stop planks
Having made good cruising time, we turned the bend to see this!
Barton Swing Aqueduct – swung shut!
A call to the Canal Office gave us a 4pm expected opening – as it was then 12.30, we had time for lunch and to get the log book and blog up to date.
Barton Aqueduct Info:
The cruise across the Aqueduct is always exciting and this time we turned east towards Manchester and a section of the canal system we haven't been through since on our first boat in 1993! We enjoyed the late afternoon cruise through the changing fortunes and industries of Sale and so into Castlefield itself.
Manchester, here we come
See nb Albert's Blog of the same route:
The most famous football ground in the universe.
Pamona Lock, down to the River Irwell and the Manchester Ship Canal. One day?
I was told by one of the trip boat skippers that it costs £40 to lock down?
The beauty of Victorian ironwork
Approaching Castlefield
See next blog for our Staffordshire Arm weekend mooring.

Wigan Flight - Down!

After the rain comes – showers!
We had a prompt start and took the short hop to Wigan Lock. Being an eager beaver, instead of getting services at the top, I decided to do this at the bottom.
Our downhill locking was uneventful, passing 2 single and a pair, most of the lower locks were in our favour, though a few leaked so badly this was no advantage.

Wigan Locks – BW numbering and the original stone carved

The Wigan Flight in a rural setting
The Wigan Flight in a rubbish strewn setting
The Steerer, happy at her position
The soaking!
The Leeds and Liverpool has a range of lock mechanisms, some stiff to move. Here are a couple of the most unusual!
Ground paddle with spiral gearing – easy to operate
Chain and drum mechanism for gate closing

Rack and pinion mechanism for gate opening
Having got to the bottom of the 21 locks, we turned and reversed to the Services. How useless were these – the water point being hidden in the toilet bock and beyond our lengthy hose. I now wish I had got the water on at the top!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Wet Rain!

The BBC Weather Forecast said it would rain and it certainly has!

Thankfully, not as torrentially as some parts of the country. My heart sinks(!) seeing the shots of that narrowboat at York under water. At least we are on a canal with wash weirs to take away the excess. Happily, it means there should be plenty of water when we go down the Wigan Flight tomorrow.

Our mooring spot at New Springs for the last 4 days.

Nearby northern industry - the NW Hovis plant

The local C of E St.John the Baptist Church – a sturdy building from 1897


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Lingering in Lovely Lancs!

Now back on the boat after our time with family in Durham, we tested the new Reduction Box that Adam from PB Mechanical has fitted over the summer. The plan was to take a run up the Leeds and Liverpool for a day and then return. This would give a reasonable chance to experience the new gear box ratio.
Lister Reduction Box 3R2:1

We had a lovely day's cruising up through the 7 locks of Johnson's Hillock and went onto the visitor moorings at Withnell Fold.
These are opposite an old mill that has some continued use as industrial units.
I noticed a Planning Notice that intends to demolish much of the old site and build 37 new houses! They intend to keep the iconic chimney.
There was also considerable swathes of the Himalayan Balsam – despite the reported attempts to remove its impact, it's difficult to see how it will be eradicated.

On the way back south, I was interested in how the bridges were painted with the arch highlighted in white – together with the addition of a vertical white stripe to mark the apparently offset centre of navigation.
The Botany Bay Mill

The Skipper in green wellies – less Lancs more Cheshire!

The following day we headed for NewSprings, above Wigan.
We cruised through GWC (Lancs – Nige please note!)

Haigh Hall Bridge
A Beautiful Lancs sunset



Thursday, 20 September 2012

Up North! Shildon's Locomotion and Diesels at NYMR

Thankfully, our son's foot has responded well to the operation. We stopped up to do the driving even though he was back home. I took the opportunity to visit The Locomotion at Shildon, taking our youngest grandson. Shildon is an over-flow for the National Railway Museum so tends to have the less prestigious locos though does have a Royal Train and some interesting wagons.
We saw a Southern Railway Brakevan being offloaded from a heavy loader.

25T Bogie Goods Brake Van, No 56297, 1936 (British Railways No 041414)
The Southern Railway built some twin-bogie brake vans on redundant electric locomotive chassis, termed the "Queen Mary" brake vans. Designed for high speed operation on milk and parcels trains rather than stopping power, they had a lengthened cabin, but did not cover the entire twin-bogie chassis. It also has the common side look-outs (termed "duckets") to improve the guard's visibility.

Old and young watching the activity – it's the first time we have seen something like this.
Grandma and Grandson on the interative screen.
There was also movement of a rare classic – a 1958 (withdrawn in 1977) Class 71 Bo-Bo Electric Loco that used both a 3rd rail on the mainline and an Overhead Pantograph when operating in sidings (for safety reasons).

BR Southern Region Class 71 E5001
Red Freight workmen prepare the loading tracks

All being well with our son, we set off home though not without a very pleasant detour to the North York Moors Railway Diesel Gala. It was a fabulous September sunny and warm day. The 'diesel heads' were out in force enjoying a show of some classics.

Class 55 Deltic No.55 022 1960 Royal Scots Grey
Deltic 55 022 on the left with 37 264

We had a great day with diesel enthusiasts and enjoyed several trips up and down through the moors. Rather on the spur of the moment we took the opportunity to have a Pullman Sunday Lunch (a day early on the Saturday).

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

M61 and A66

Having got back from our West Country Tour, life has revolved around family and sorting out, with some high value leisure activities for good measure.

So far, we have stopped in the motorvan at the Marina for a week and met up with Chris' parents and invited her sister and brother-in-law over to the van for a meal and a good 'catch up'.

We drove down to Chris' Aunt and Uncle in their new house in Twyning, near Tewkesbury, taking Chris' Mum as well. We had a very pleasant day, including a walk with Geoff down to the River Avon at the Fleet Inn. So far, the moorings there have not been replaced following the devastating floods several years ago. This seems a shame as the spot is a great stopping place before Tewkesbury.

Whilst camped over at the Marina, I took the opportunity to visit the Llangollen Steam Railway on the quieter Friday of their Gala. A very enjoyable day with a variety of locos, good beer at Carrog and the discovery of the Carrog Station campsite – perfect for the future?!

We travelled up to Durham for the day for our eldest grandson's 8th birthday, meeting up with the NE family side.

Chris was asked to fill in for holiday cover at her old work in Macclesfield, so we moved the van to the site we use at Ollerton. This allowed me to get a day's walk in over from Macc Forest to the Goyt Valley – took 5 hours to cover 13miles and 2,200ft climb!

I also met up with my previous work colleagues for a pleasant lunch, interested in the changes and demands facing the Team. Though how nice to be retired!

Our significant news is that we have signed up for a permanent mooring at the Overwater Marina, near Audlem – this being possible by paying on a monthly basis. It also allows us 2 vehicles there so we took the motorvan over. All round better and will be easier to do the maintenance needed etc.

We've been up to the boat, still moored at the boat engineers near Wigan, taking up a car load of bags, bedding, food shopping etc. The work on the boat is finished though needs testing underway.

However, we received a call from our Durham son, who is in hospital with a serious foot infection. So we have driven up to help look after the grandkids and act as driver for our daughter-in-law (who doesn't drive). So far, Crispian has been in for 5 days.

This has given us the opportunity to join in our grandson's bowling party with his friends.

Team approach for the launch of youngest grandchild's ball

Grandson in action