On Thursday we came down the infamous Wigan flight of locks. These are big, deep and many. We came down 22 from the top and moored in the centre of Wigan opposite the CRT offices.
Here is Leo in the top lock of the Wigan flight. We think the cottage must have been a lock keeper's house at one time.
We were forewarned that lock 68 was very leaky especially on the left side going down. If we had been over that side, Ian would have got his feet wet. As you can see we were on our own going down Wigan. However a CRT volunteer, John, came to help us and stayed with us all the way down. What a relief.
Here we are a few locks down with the view over Wigan. The locks take the canal down over 200 feet. At this stage it is not raining and Helen is not wearing waterproofs. Later it got very wet.
Here, coming out of lock 85, we said goodbye to our volunteer, John. He was a great help, thank you.
We had been told that volunteers would only be available on a Tuesday, but clearly some like to work on other days too.
After turning right at Wigan junction we had one more lock in the rain before mooring up for a late lunch. We had done the flight in three and a half hours which we thought was pretty good. By half way down the flight it was raining quite hard and you can see the raindrops on the lens in this picture.
Friday morning was not only wet but very windy and cold. So we lit the fire and stayed indoors. Very sensible as the passing boaters we saw looked pretty miserable. In the afternoon we set off. The rain had stopped but not the wind. Ian had three goes leaving the mooring before finally getting going and below Pagefield Lock we had quite an 'incident'. Leo decided it was time to turn round even though tied by the mid rope. She finished up slewed across the canal with bow out and stern in. No amount of pulling even with both of us would get her parallel with the canal. So we tied off the mid rope and Ian powered round with the engine, the boat heeling heavily to port in the process. Anyway it worked.
Here is the well known 'tippler' at Wigan opposite the Orwell pub. It marks the place where boats used to be loaded from wagons carrying coal and stone.
Here is the figure by the Tippler. I'm not sure why he or she looks so glum. Perhaps it's just the thought of work or a testament to a hard and miserable life. Or is the figure on their mobile phone?
We're used to seeing Gunnera (aka Giant Rhubarb) in ornamental gardens so we were surprised to see it growing in the canal.
No wonder white tigers are rare. This poor fellow was clearly drowning in the old lock next to Ell Meadow Lock.
On Friday we moored at Crooke and enjoyed a meal at the Crooke Hall Inn. Crooke seemed more pleasant that we had remembered it and the meal was good and also not expensive. Ian's great grandmother was the housekeeper at Crooke Hall (now demolished) so he has family connections here.
On a walk round the area before our meal we crossed this overflow from the canal down into the River Douglas. Perhaps because of the rain there was plenty overflowing.
And here from the boat window is a night view of the Crooke Hall Inn, its lights reflected in the canal.
We didn't go far yesterday, just a couple of miles to a lovely spot we've been before, in the backwater beside Appley Lock. Here a pair of locks has been replaced by one deep lock and the old lock cut makes a splendid mooring.
We're now in the valley of the River Douglas. Later, doing the Ribble Link, we will be navigating on the lower reaches of this river. Though not spectacular this part of the canal is pleasantly rural, even with a succession of April showers passing over.
And here we are moored by Appley Locks. The curious boxes on the roof are toilet cassettes. One is full of what you might expect and the other is full of water. We spent the afternoon yesterday fitting the new solar panel by glueing it to the roof. The cassettes are to weight it down until the glue has set.
This morning (Sunday) it is once more raining pretty hard. We're not in a hurry so we are catching up on jobs inside until it stops. Our aim is to get down the Rufford branch to Tarleton by Tuesday evening ready for our foray on the Ribble Link on Wednesday morning. We met a chap yesterday who has had a lot of experience of the Link. He was very helpful and has left us much more aware of what to expect.
Wish us luck on Wednesday! The next posting will be from Dublin if it doesn't go to plan.