Wednesday 23 January 2013

Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Wigan.

There are two sides to being moored up in a town centre. On one hand it can be an expensive do; there’s a Screwfix and a Wickes within walking distance, which has resulted in one or two improvements – the beading in the bathroom is finished and there’s a nice new shelf with a light under it in the kitchen.
Also the box lids in the well deck have got non slip panels where you stand to get in and out.
On the other hand it can be very much in our financial interest to have a 24 hour supermarket on Ann-Marie’s way home from work at 5am.
These are the CRT’s new offices in Wigan and very nice they look too.
If you’re passing it’s certainly worth popping in, if only to pick up a copy of Towpath Talk. We popped in for a new Handcuff Key. This is the essential little device that opens the security locks on paddles on the Leeds and Liverpool.
Without one progress is – well - impossible really. Paddles are locked to stop unnecessary emptying of locks and pounds by the Bash Street Kids armed with nothing more than a mole wrench. While undoubtedly required practice in urban areas, the policy of securing every paddle on every lock does seem a bit excessive, especially on some of the more remote ones – the Rufford and Glasson branches for example. You also need one on the BCN where it’s referred to as an Anti-vandal or Water Conservation Key, and we got one in a hurry after getting stuck at Smethwick almost a year ago, but we sometimes come across a paddle that we can’t open due to it spinning round without doing anything. We had a feeling that as we didn’t get it from BW, the hole in the end might not be quite the same size as the genuine article. We’ve now got a new one and it’s a much better fit, so either the old one has worn (doubtful) or we were right and it was sloppier to start with.
Any road up, we’ve now got a spare one so when we’ve got help locking it’ll be quicker, and we don’t have to worry quite so much about dropping one the cut.

The frozen ground means that we can at last walk somewhere other than the towpath without finding ourselves up to our knees in mud. To the south-east of Wigan alongside the Leigh Branch there are a number of flashes where mining subsidence has resulted in lakes and ponds so we had a pleasant afternoon wandering around a couple of them.
The weather forecast looks good for going up the flight on Saturday; we’ll have a walk up on Friday to see what the ice situation is but at the moment, although a couple of the pounds are frozen over, it’s not thick enough to cause us any problems.

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