Saturday 17 November 2012

Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Appley Locks.


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 and this one is broken. Oh dear, what a shame. We're going to have to stay in a lovely secluded mooring for a bit longer. Happily there's a water point a mile away with a winding hole, the local pub does free wifi, the car park is a 5 minute walk up the towpath and there's a local shop.

We know what you're thinking, but no, we didn't break it!

Now, what happened to that old bike frame?

Friday 16 November 2012

Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Burscough to Appley Locks.

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, Dave had been along the towpath with the bow saw, making stashes of dead-fall firewood ready to be picked up as we went by. He got a bit carried away, as he does, and we arrived at the lock with every inch of the roof covered in big bits of tree. There has to be a limit to how much weight you can put on top of a narrowboat before it simply falls over, and we were noticeably tippy. He’s since spent a good few hours every day cutting it into stove sized lengths and now it’s stacked everywhere - on the bank, on the roof, in the front locker – everywhere you look there are more logs.
We’ll use them, of that there is no doubt, and more. In fact he’s already spied another wooded bit that he’ll go and attack when we leave. It keeps him fit and out of trouble.

As it’s nice and safe here, we’ve taken the opportunity to take the slide hatch off the back end and tidy it up. At the moment we’ve got a bit of Land-Rover canvas covering our exposed rear while the slide resides on the workmate. The plan is to line it in ply, repaint it and put coloured diamonds on the raised bit.
Should look good.

The Squirrel log burner is on pretty much all the time now so our staple diet will be casseroles, curries and chilli till Easter. Yum! The copper kettle we bought in Glasson is proving its worth as well; it holds about 4 litres and we keep it on top of the fire and full. This has meant that our last gas bottle lasted 9 weeks instead if 6, and at £20 a refill that’s not to be sniffed at.

We can’t go much further along the canal at the moment as there’s a maintenance stoppage 2 locks further on at Ell Meadow. They are replacing the gates and it’s scheduled to finish on Dec 20, so in a couple of weeks we’ll go and have a chat with the CRT guys doing the work and see if they’re going to be on time. If so we can go through and be in Wigan outside the North-West Waterways office for Christmas.

This is the L&L in all its Autumn Glory

Saturday 3 November 2012

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 the associated cul-de-sacs, would have taken up next year. That was going to be followed by an excursion out to Peterborough and the Fens the year after.

It’s now all different. We’re going south straight from here as soon as Ann-Marie’s contract ends in January, back down the Bridgwater to Manchester, then the Rochdale and Ashton taking us onto the Peak Forest and all points south. At Gayton Junction instead of diverting down the Nene we’ll carry on down the GU all the way to London, then on the Paddington Arm and the Regent’s Canal to the Lea & Stort by the end of the year.

What’s changed our minds? Well, when we were down at Frankie & Harry’s they announced that they have decided to move to France with Janice & Paul – a move which doesn’t surprise us at all; Harry and Paul are going to refurbish and sell French 2CVs – and we think it will be brilliant for them. The time scale is fairly vague at the moment; J&P have to sell their house and the gites and find somewhere suitable for them all, so it’s not going to be for a while yet, but we want to spend as much time as we can nearer to F&H before they go. We’d planned to cruise up the Lea & Stort past Hoddesden at some point, so really we’re only swapping things around a bit. We feel very far from our loved ones up here and although it’s great to be exploring the northern canals, they’re not going anywhere and we can always come back.

Pangbourne to Sutton Courtenay. River Thames.

Summer ‘24 finally arrived while we were moored at Pangbourne, and boy, did we all know about it. The temperatures rocketed up - along with ...