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Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Crooke to Appley Bridge

After two weeks at Crooke we thought it would be polite to clear off. The canal is very much overlooked by the local houses so it seemed prudent to keep to the rules and not upset the natives. Just before we left, several of the other boats that had been moored there when we arrived received patrol notices; the waterways equivalent of parking tickets, so someone is obviously quite vigilant. It sort of proves what we said in the last post; in the winter, away from popular spots you’ll get left alone, but you still have to behave at visitor moorings.

So we’re now at Appley Bridge. Yes, back the way we came, although we were at the locks last time and now we’re next to the bridge. We’d have gone back to the locks except for a chemical spill which closed the canal for a week or two. There were blue absorbent barrages across the cut under the bridge and at all the spill weirs after it. When it first happened the whole area smelled of tar, but as the days passed and it continued to rain it …

Leeds and Luverpool Canal. Appley Bridge to Crooke.

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We were sad to leave Appley Bridge. Being off the main line meant we had a constant stream of birds on our bird table and other wildlife in the trees,
we could leave stuff out on the towpath and it felt very much like home. Crooke, on the other hand is busier, there’s not much of a view and the solar panels aren’t doing a lot. The reason we’ve moved is partly our natural wanderlust combined with a need to get closer to where Ann-Marie is working. We picked a day without ice, filled up with water at Dean Locks,
which would be a perfect canal cottage location if it wasn't for the M6, and tied up just before the Crooke Hall Inn. Very nice pub, apparently. Dave might find out one of these evenings.
Crooke is a pretty little village with a close-knit comunity, however it wasn't always thus. 100 years ago the scene was radically different with up to 20 coal barges a day being loaded from as many as 5 "Tipplers".
This was the last one to be dismantled. There were similar on…

Leeds And Liverpool Canal Appley Bridge to Dean locks and back again.

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No-one turned up to mend our lock, but it’s working again anyway. This is due more to whatever is under the gate becoming embedded in it through usage, rather than anything resembling a sensibly planned and executed clearance of said object. You can tell it’s still there by the little geyser spouting up from the bottom of the gate, but all things considered we’re happy to report that Appley Bridge lock is working a lot better than it was and losing considerably less water than a lot of other locks on the L&L, and that navigation through here is perfectly possible. Indeed Derrick, on coal boat Ambush, (a gorgeous Liverpool long boat with a huge 4 cylinder Gardiner) came through at the weekend. Their home base is at Crooke and on their way through they stopped off at our little community to deliver coal and diesel. With Ambush in the lock there was hardly any room for the water, so if they can get through anything can.
We’ve now got half a dozen bags of coal on the roof to go with a…

Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Appley Locks.

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Oh-er!

This afternoon a little river cruiser went into the lock where we're moored. The crew opened the top gates easily enough to get their little yoghurt pot into the lock, but when they came to close them again they wouldn't come together and there was a big gap down the middle.
When we realised they were having a spot of bother we went to lend a hand but no amount of shoving, bouncing, flushing or poking about with a pole made any difference. They were out for a day trip and they said that the last two times they'd taken the boat out the engine had packed up. This time the lock broke. We'll make sure we steer well clear of them in future! In the end they backed out and chugged off back to their marina while we phoned the CRT emergency number. There must be something jammed under one of the gates and the lock is out of order until the maintenance team get here and sort it out. It effectively means we're stranded in a 3 mile stretch of canal, Ell Meadow is shut a…

Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Burscough to Appley Locks.

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Although you only go up through one 12’ deep lock at Appley locks, it’s referred to in the plural because there are actually 3 locks here. A shallower pair was built alongside the original to speed traffic up, but these are now derelict. The good bit is that you can moor in the approach to the top of the disused locks and that’s where we are. This is about as good as it gets; we’re on the far side of a little island that’s only accessible by a footbridge, there’s a lovely view, plenty of wildlife and it’s like having our own private bit of towpath.
There are 2 other boats moored here at the moment and we have a very friendly little community going on. They both came across the Ribble Link with us and we’ve seen them around on the Lanky and this end of the L&L all autumn, so it’s nice to get to know them a bit better.

We did the trip from Burscough in one go between Ann-Marie’s shifts, so she slept through most of it, just emerging to open the swing bridges. The day before we moved…

Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Haskayne to Burscough.

Apart from a mad dash to Daventry via Chesterfield to see Chloe and Anne and pick up our post we haven’t done a lot - well not a lot of boat related stuff. Ann-Marie has been working some very odd hours and lots of them, which has meant that boat movements have been restricted to short hops so that we’re never more than half an hour from the car. It took four such shuffles to get from Haskayne to Burscough where we’ve been for the past week. It’s very handy here, there’s a Tesco round the corner, a chippy, a hardware shop, BW services and a free car park. Shame we can only stay for another week, but by then Ann-Marie will just be doing weekends and we can move on easily.

We’ve had a major change of plan for the next year or two. We were going to be going over the Pennines to Leeds, on the Aire and Calder rivers to Wakefield, back over the Pennines on the Huddersfield and then south on the Peak Forest, Macclesfield, T&M, Coventry, North Oxford and GU to Northampton which, with all …

Liverpool Canal Link/Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Liverpool to Haskayne

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It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for us. For a start we’ve been in Liverpool, moored in Salthouse Dock, right next to the Tate, the Museum of Liverpool, the Maritime Museum and Museum of Slavery, the fantastically resurrected Albert Dock and with the huge Liverpool One shopping mall just over the road. We have said on many occasions that we’re not city people, and despite the grandiose of our arrival through the disused docks and the newly hewn canal link, it was with some trepidation that we tied up. We need not have worried; our pontoon mooring was excellent and we have been completely blown away by this city. It’s clean, it’s friendly, the architecture is amazing and typified by the cathedrals at each end of Hope Street; one old, one new, almost in each other’s shadows and on opposite sides of a religious divide but existing in perfect harmony.
And it doesn’t end there. There’s the Walker Gallery, the Library, the St George building and, although we went and walked and looked …

Millenniun Link/ Leeds and Liverpool canal/Liverpool Canal Link. Preston to Liverpool.

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Talk about getting your money’s worth! Legend has been the focus of attention for a small army of CRT employees over the last week and a half. First there were the two who helped us down the Millennium Link; they operated the staircase and the sea lock and made sure we were safely on our way down the Ribble.
The crossing back was just as exciting-in-a-good-way as it was on the way over, and pointing the bows of a narrowboat at a horizon that is all sea for a couple of hours is something we will remember for a long time. Next there was Harry and a whole gang of helpers who worked the sea lock at Tarleton, bringing us off the river Douglas onto the Rufford branch of the Leeds & Liverpool, and to whom we owe special thanks as it was seriously chucking it down when we got there but they all just smiled and got on with it. We were right about a big tide going out fast; it was odd to be ploughing through the water, pushing a huge bow-wave whilst the scenery casually dawdled past. Our br…

Lancaster Canal. Bolton-le-Sands to Preston.

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As if by magic we’re back in Preston. As planned on Friday evening, Steve & Lesley came along to Bolton-le-Sands, although we’d forgotten that at this time of year 8pm is way after sunset, so they made their way down the towpath by torchlight and didn’t see the outside of the boat till the following morning. We’d been so enamoured by Carnforth railway station we had another go at it with Steve & Lesley. That was followed by a very pleasant afternoon’s boating with them on board; first through Hest Bank with its views over Morecambe Bay,
then over the magnificent Lune Aqueduct and into Lancaster, mooring up just after the Water Witch pub. Despite Dave’s best attempts to sabotage dinner by launching the Moroccan Chicken off the edge of the wood burner, we had a very agreeable evening. On Sunday we returned to Kendal where Ann-Marie bit the bullet and chose a pair of Keen walking boots. So now we’ve got no excuse for not going for a walk. We picked up Steve & Lesley’s car on …

Lancaster Canal. Bolton-le-Sands to Borwick via Tewitfield.

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We must have impressed Sue & Steve with our tales of boat life because they dropped into Bolton-le-Sands to visit Legend on their way back from Preston. It was lovely to have them aboard for the afternoon, although at around 7’ Steve is far too tall to actually fit inside our little home.
On Thursday morning before breakfast we moved a couple of miles up the cut to Carnforth and stopped on the visitor moorings, right behind the BP garage and Spar shop. Not where we’d usually choose for a peaceful night’s sleep but very handy for shopping, parking and a service point. It’s also really easy to find, being right next to the Canal Turn pub, which was useful, as on Friday David & Kate, two of our dearest friends who we don’t see nearly enough of, came to stay for a couple of days. They arrived just before lunch and in the afternoon we all went into Carnforth to visit the railway station. That doesn’t sound very exciting until you realise that Carnforth Station was the location used…