Thursday 17 January 2013

Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Appley Bridge to Wigan.

OK, so far 2013 hasn’t been a blazing whirlwind of excitement. That’s not to say that nothing has happened. For one thing, we bought a new mattress and organised the logistics of getting it into the boat and onto the bed, and the disposal of the old one. (Chucking it in the canal, whilst seeming to be the favoured option of certain segments of the population, who curiously appear to go to extraordinary lengths to get their unwanted stuff in the cut rather than their local tip, was not something we considered.) We found a bedding shop in Wigan close to the towpath and put our order in. As with all things boaty, you can’t just buy one off the shelf, but unlike some narrowboat bedrooms with clever designs ours isn’t a weird shape, it’s just a bit smaller. Once we’d found out that descriptions like “¾ “, “small double” and “queen size” all meant the same thing; ie. 4’ wide, the job got a lot easier. When collection day arrived we left Appley Bridge and cruised into Wigan, leaving the old rolled up mattress in the back of the car as we went past. We moored up opposite the new CRT offices at Henhurst lock and walked round the corner to the showroom. The salesman offered us the use of his estate car to move it but as we pointed out, by the time we’d wrestled it in, driven across the car-park and wrestled it out again, it would have been easier just to carry it to the boat. So that’s what we did. To get it in the front doors we simply rolled the cratch cover back and lifted the king plank up; all very slick. A woman walked by while we were performing, looked at the mattress in its polythene cover and asked “Have you got a bed that big in there?” Dave said “Yes they’re all this big.” Ann-Marie said “No, the downstairs ones are bigger.” Sometimes they just ask for it.

Chloe and Shandy came for a visit while we were at Appley Bridge. It’s been a while since they’ve been to the boat – understandably, we took it a long way away from them – and that isn’t going to change much until later in the year when we start heading south again. I was lovely to see them; we had a very relaxed evening, followed by pancakes and a walk through Fairy Glen the next day.
For our first two nights in Wigan we tied up outside the CRT office which is as safe as houses, being on the off-side and behind a locked gate. However, it’s a 48 hour mooring so on the Monday night we pushed off to the towpath side. We’re quite sure if we’d asked nicely we’d have been allowed to stay put, but there’s more sunshine over here and we don’t have to cross any bridges, making it closer to town.
As far a safety is concerned, it seems to be as good as any other city. Doubtless there would be tales of woe if we cared to listen, but we don’t.

It looks like we’re going to be iced in here in the next day or two. Hopefully it will be clear again in a couple of weeks as on the weekend of 26/27 Jan we’re planning a full scale assault on the Wigan flight of 23 locks. There is a mooring refuge about half way up, and a pub at the top so it should be ok even if we end up on our own. It’ll be good practice for when we come back over the Pennines on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, which has 74 locks in 19 miles. And a 3 mile tunnel.

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