Friday 30 September 2022

Melling to Liverpool and back to Haskayne. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Liverpool's Albert Dock looking fantastic.

Litherland is just over an hour’s boating from the top of the Stanley Dock lock flight...

... so like most boats heading for Liverpool we stopped there for the night before our booking on the link. The moorings are on the off side, behind a locked gate and have full services... we took advantage of the bins, had a good clear out and made room in one of the well-deck lockers for the paddleboards. After that we had a wander down to the docks and back up to the big Tesco that is right behind the moorings.

At eight o’clock the next morning we set off into the city along with Nick and Lynn on Nb Rockyn. Although our booking was for two in the afternoon, Sid, the chief lock keeper, had rung us the previous day and asked if we could be there for ten in the morning. That way the volunteers could work all the in- and out-bound boats through the locks together. We got to the top of the locks just after nine, so we had time for a quick coffee before we were off down the flight. We passed a wide beam in the first pound...

 ...but after that Rockyn and us had the flight, and the rest of the link to ourselves.

Sid gave us the lowdown on the trip along the link and although it was nine years since we’d been, apart from a lot of new buildings going up around it, the link itself hadn’t changed and we remembered most of it. Nick and Lynn hadn’t been before, so we went first, through Stanley Dock and past the fabulous Tobacco warehouse...

... down to the six-sided clock tower that the ships used to set their clocks by as they left the port...

... left into “Sid’s Ditch”, the new channel running parallel to the river...

.... through Prince's dock and the lock at the end...

... under the tunnels with glimpses of the Three Graces on the left and the Pier Head ferry terminal on the right...

... past the Museum of Liverpool and through Mann Island lock into Canning dock.

Then a big u-turn and diagonally across Albert dock, before arriving in Salthouse dock where our mooring pontoon was waiting for us.

Only it wasn’t. There was a big river boat on our designated pontoon in the corner. So, we hovered for a bit (luckily it wasn’t windy) while Ann-Marie had a chat with the skipper and then went to moor up on his pontoon. Apparently, he was on our mooring because he was waiting for a diesel delivery, but we didn’t care because we were now moored on S1 - side-on with a view. Best mooring in the dock. Result.

There was free electric in Salthouse, so we plugged everything in, had a good hoover through and put the washing machine on for the first of numerous hot washes before locking up and taking the train to Ormskirk to pick up Ann-Marie’s new glasses. Yes, Dear Reader, it would have been more sensible to either; a) have them sent to Specsavers in Liverpool, or b) driven over to Ormskirk from Haskayne when we were there, but life is not sensible sometimes, and we had a nice afternoon.

We had a fabulous week in Liverpool, lots of paddle-boarding round the docks...

... a ferry cross the Mersey to Birkenhead...

... visits to the Tate gallery and the Maritime museum...

We saw this picture in the maritime museum of George's Dock in Liverpool's heyday. Just look at all those masts!

... a hop-on hop-off open top bus tour, a cycle ride out to Princes Park for parkrun on Saturday morning... 

... an unexpected visit from Jon, Jo, Sienna and Layla who just happened to be in Liverpool that weekend, and that was all before David and Kate turned up to stay for a couple of nights.

Once our mates were with us we upped the anté. The boys hired a couple of electric scooters and zoomed around the city for a bit while the girls hopped on the tour bus, then we all met up at Paddy’s Wigwam for a look round, followed by starters in the Philharmonic Dining Rooms. Lush. The main course turned out to be an all-you-can-eat Rodizio grill called Fogo Brazil in the Ropewalks.

 Somehow we managed to stagger back to Legend and crashed out for the rest of the afternoon. We had a go at Espresso Martinis in the evening, but quickly realised that the lack of ice, a cocktail shaker and proper glasses did nothing to enhance the experience, so we just settled for Tia Maria and Baileys instead. What’s not to like?

In the morning David had a go on a paddle-board in the dock. He did really well, managing to stand up without too much wobbling, but he did get a dunking before the end. After he’d showered and dried off we went back up to the ropewalks for coffee and cake.

Yes, we know it looks like a sausage with mayo and onion sauce, bit it's actually an eclair.

Then, sadly, it was time for our mates to leave. We waved them off and wandered through the city, around the Cavern Quarter...

 and back to the boat along the riverbank wall. In the evening we had
 a last paddle through the docks before deflating the boards and packing them away.

Early the next morning we were back across the link with Nick and Lynn...

...back up the locks and on to Litherland.


They stopped there, but we just used the services then carried on.

Unfortunately we got to Aintree at ten past two, ten minutes after the swing bridge closed for tea-time traffic. If we hadn’t stopped to pick up some fire wood on the way we’d have been fine. Nuts. Never mind, it was a perfect excuse for a granny nap and some IPlayer binging till
the bridge opened again four hours later. We tied up again in Melling and had some delicious Salthouse dock mussels for tea.

Back at Haskayne the next day Dave reunited boat and car then collected some of the plums and hazelnuts that we’d spotted on the way in. The paddle-boards got inflated again; we wanted to get as much use out of them as possible before the weather turned, so we were out on them every morning and evening whenever we could. Rather than pumping them up from scratch each time, we deflated them a bit and kept them on top of the big box when they weren’t being used.

It made navigating a bit interesting, but with all the plants and our usual roof-tat, we’re quite used to peering down the side of the boat to see where we’re going. It is a bit disconcerting for people coming the other way when they can’t see anyone on the tiller, but it means everyone gives us a nice
wide berth.

Tuesday 13 September 2022

Burscough to Melling. Leeds and Liverpool Canal

 After two days at Burscough we pulled the pins, moved up to the services by the bridge...

 ...then carried on to Halsall and tied up outside the Saracen’s Head pub. Dave dug his way into the bottom of the wardrobe and began fitting the new Lithium battery.

The cables needed to go through the bulkhead and under the engine room floor to the main battery bank, so there was quite a bit of upheaval.

 Maybe not as much as when the washing machine came in, but it’s a small, cramped space with lots of pointy things on the walls and Dave, although bendy for his age, is still only human. Ann-Marie – very wisely - went and sat out of earshot under a tree with her stitching for the afternoon then went back for the car.

The next morning, with the new battery connected and happily sucking up all the amps our alternator could throw at it, we moved down the cut in the sunshine to Haskayne. We remembered Haskayne from the last time we were up here in 2012, it’s nice and peaceful and there’s a really handy car park right next to the moorings. This time the tranquillity was somewhat shattered by the farmer on the opposite bank starting up a big old irrigation pump. We weren’t that bothered though because we were off on a grand day out. At that point the plan went something like this:- We were picking Frankie & Thibault up from Manchester airport and taking then to Jon’s for his 40th birthday weekend, Chloe and the kids would then be coming by train to see us on Sunday, before getting the train on to Liverpool airport and heading home. So, we wanted to reccé a good place to moor, near a train station, with car access. Maghull looked good on the map and on Google Earth, so off we went, leaving the dirty great V8 Briggs and Stratton roaring away on the other side of the canal, spraying our precious water over a huge field of leeks. Maghull turned out to be perfect, so we ticked that box then went on to Southport for the afternoon. The tide had not only gone out, but was completely missing altogether.

There was just miles of sand as far as the eye could see, but it’s still a lovely place to be... very English Seaside. Back home Farmer Palmer had switched off Pumpy Mc Pumpface so we had a very serene evening paddle before bed.

Friday was logistical masterpiece. We deflated the paddleboards and put them away then packed up the car and drove off to Manchester. First, we went to Ikea for coffee and a new bowl, then onto the airport to pick Frankie and Thibault up. We met up with Jon, who was picking Chloe, Caleb and Matilda up off a different plane and had brought Thibault's car seat for us. (Childrens’ car seats feature heavily in this episode, as you will see) Both planes were late, but Frankie's was delayed by 2 hours, so it gave us time for a mooch round Wythenshawe (a bit dubious, but Ann-Marie got a very nice hoody) before zipping into the 20 minute airport parking and being just in time to meet a very weary but excited Thibault and Frankie at the arrivals gate. We bundled them into the car and headed off to join everyone else in Matlock for Jon’s party. We had only intended to stay for the Friday night, but Jon & Jo very kindly invited us to stay for the whole weekend and included us in all the birthday shenanigans. It was a perfect party day in the garden, Granan had bought bubbles so the kids were in heaven with bubbles galore and mad splashing in the paddling pool.

 Jon spent the morning slow roasting a brisket on the BBQ...

 ...followed by all the usual nosh. A perfect summer garden party.

Because we were there till Sunday, it meant that we could bring Chloe and the kids back with us in the car, rather than them getting the train (which was virtually impossible on a Sunday), we just needed a couple of kids’ car seats. Jon’s gave us one of theirs that they didn’t use any more, and we went on FB marketplace and found another one going free just round the corner. Sorted. We set off after a big lunch for a hot drive back to the boat, which took us right into Dave’s nap time. Chloe relegated him to the back seat and did some of the driving.

 We dropped into an Asda and stood in the chiller aisle for a bit of respite from the heat, then picked up some stuff for tea and carried on, getting back to the boat with two very excited grandchildren. Matilda had never been to Legend before, but she’d been told all about it by Caleb who remembered it from his visit when we were on the K&A. He gave her a tour and told her all about boat life. Soo cute!

It was still very warm, so after dinner we had a walk down to the playground and picked blackberries on the way back. 

The next day, after Chloe had a go on a paddleboard...

...we took them for a short, but very excited boat trip to Scarisbrick.

We had a sausage roll lunch in the café then a go with the Narrowboat Board Game, which Caleb loved, especially when Ann-Marie sunk her boat and had to go back to the beginning...

...he thought that was hilarious!

Far too soon it was time to head off to the airport and drop them off. After lots of hugs and kisses in departures, we drove back to Legend for a lovely evening boating to Melling.

Over the next ten days or so we'll be on our way in and out of Liverpool and we'll not need the car, so we've left it tucked up safely in Haskayne, complete with two childs' car seats that we now don't need, have no room for, but are strangely reluctant to get rid of. Seeing them in the back of the car makes us feel warm and squishy inside. Silly old Nana and Grandpa.

It's been over 9 years since we came to Liverpool for the first time and CRT have changed the protocol for passage along the link through the docks. Last time we had to wait at Aintree for someone to come and open the mechanical bridges for us, then escort us all the way into the city. These days boats are less of a curiosity on the canal and the escorted passage has been deemed unnecessary. Both the mechanical bridges are boater operated, and we won’t see any CRT staff or volunteers until we get to the top of the Stanley lock flight at the end of the canal.

Liverpool has been our summer “destination” this year, and we’ve been looking forward to it for ages. There have been times when it looked like we wouldn’t get there, so to be on the last leg with no bad juju ahead was really good. We’ll tell you all about our trip and our week in the city next time.

New Haw Lock to Boveney. River Wey. River Thames.

After pulling the pins at New Haw we dropped down the last four locks on the Wey... Cox's Mill Lock Town Lock The final stretch of the W...