Fishers Swing Bridge to New Lane Swing Bridge 31
The weather forecast isn’t being kind to us. Today has been a lovely day, starting off slightly damp, but progressing into another warm sunny afternoon. However tomorrow is meant to be a seriously wet day which has meant that a planned snagging rendez vous with the chaps from Finesse has been put on hold. They will need the stern hatch open for much of the day and without a pram cover Oleanna would get wet where she shouldn’t. So we are keeping our fingers crossed that Thursday the weather will be on our side.
With this in mind we had a late breakfast, trying out a recipe for oat and pecan pancakes. They were nice, but would have been nicer with a touch of sugar added to the mix or a big drizzle of maple syrup. They were a nice change though.
So our mission today was to find somewhere to meet Finesse, get their van as close as possible to Oleanna and still be on course to make our booked passage into Liverpool at the weekend. We’ve spent some time looking at google earth, tracing the canal from Wigan to Maghull. We have been this way before and had an idea of a couple of places that might be good.
Then was Appley Deep Lock which is 12ft. We first came through here with our friends Frank and Steve in May 2012, it was peeing it down! A boat had just passed us so we hoped that it would be in our favour, which it almost was, only a couple of feet down, so I started to top it up. I quickly realised that I’d need all the paddles to do this as the bottom gates were leaking so much. However one of the ground paddles was chained up, out of action. A small cruiser approached from below and a lad of about 12 came up with a windlass in hand. He was very chatty and was a little bit old before his time, asking all the usual questions boaters ask at locks but with a slight naivety to them. He asked if he could wind a paddle for us when we’d got our boat in the lock as he’d be doing nothing otherwise. That would be great thanks. Mick brought Oleanna into the lock and was just getting off the stern to close the gate when the lad started to wind the paddle up! We both shouted to wait, he of course was only doing as we’d agreed, lifting a paddle when we’d got our boat in the lock, no-one had said anything about gates!
Unable to unlock the handcuff on the other paddle meant it was going to take time to empty such a deep lock. So we chatted away. He and his Dad had not had the boat long, they’d bought it in a car boot sale on line for £100 and were heading off on an adventure. He asked how much our boat had cost, which got the response of ‘quite a bit more than yours’. Boys like numbers no matter what age, so I gave him Oleanna’s vital statistics so far. Nearly 4 months old, about 650 miles and around 420 locks. As we pulled away from the lock I could hear him shouting these down to his Dad, I think we’d impressed him.
Our first possible meeting place was Parbold where there is a car park right next to the visitor moorings. There was space for us, not the closest, but still quite good, only down side was that they are only 24hrs, perfect for tomorrow, but not Thursday! We pulled in and went to the shop timing it well that the level crossing closed just after we’d crossed the rail tracks. Any excuse for Mick to watch trains! After lunch we toyed with the idea of carrying on a bit to see if other places were any good, if not wind and moor up to return later tomorrow. But this would leave us with quite a lot of miles to get under our bow, so we decided to carry on and see what else might be available, after all a couple of hours cruise for us is only a matter of minutes in a van for Finesse. This did mean though that the very good chilled medication shop by the bridge on the off side didn’t get a visit! We will be stopping here on the way back though! Can’t pass it twice without partaking.
At Bridge 35 we pulled over to add our rubbish to the mountain in and on the skip. Just after bridge 34 was another place we’d identified, another 24hr mooring! On past the Rufford Branch where we will be heading in a couple of weeks. We were now on water we’ve only done once in NB Winding Down.
Coming into Burscough Bridge at the end of a line of boats was Oleanna’s doppelganger. Well nearly. NB Infinity is an Aintree boat launched in December 2015. She has very similar colours to Oleanna, maybe a little bit brighter, but her stripes are a mirror image of each other, not shadows. Her owners were just opening up the hatch and we complemented them on their colour scheme, the lady didn’t twig to start off with. Behind them was a space and through the fence was a car park, we thought about it for a while, but the canoe portage sign put us off, we’d be in the way.
At Burscough Bridge the chandlers where we replaced a mallet and the good bakers have both sadly gone. Now in their place is a restaurant and bar, shame because the pies were very good. The next place was Long Term Mooring and not suitable for a cat to go out as the road was right beside it. The next swing bridge came into view along with what had looked like a boat yard on google earth. However it was a closed down pub, with parking in front right by the water and a 24hr mooring and there was space. If we stopped we’d be there for 48 hours, should we be bad?
Our conscience got the better of us, so we carried on to find the next place was also 24hr mooring and outside an open pub. There were still a few more places to try, but they were quite a few miles further on, so we decided to wind and moor on the towpath for tonight, a better place for Tilly and then moor up tomorrow at the closed pub. Fingers crossed that the weather puts others off from cruising tomorrow and that the open pub attracts any that do.
1 lock, 8.29 miles, 6 swing bridges, holding up 20, 1 twice, 1 wind, 1 straight on, 7 healthy pancakes, 12 year old old before his time, 0 chilled medication, 6 ripe bananas reduced for not being green, 1 mirrored, 1 shadowed, 2 many 24hr moorings, 1 hour, 27 goose grass seeds, 1/2 hr removal, 2 miffed magpies, 1 cat porn email, 4 black beauties waiting for homes.