Fishers Swing Bridge to Plank Lane Bridge 8, Leigh Branch
Another early start for us. Below the next lock, Dean Lock, there is a water point that we wanted to make use off. We were moored up, filling the tank and having breakfast by 8.30. With filled tank and tummies we worked our way up the lock on our own, no Blackbird to keep us company now, so the use of the centre rope and a lot of walking round to work the paddles.
At 9.45 we were pulling up and banging spikes in opposite Crooke Hall Inn. There were fisher men starting to congregate in the pub car park and we were asked if we’d be staying. Yes, but maybe not for long, was our reply. Our stay did turn out to be short as our towpath meeting with Gary happened almost straight away. Cruising close to All Seasons Covers for a couple of days is handy, I’d messaged Gary yesterday and arranged to meet him on his way back from a job this morning. We chatted through the alteration we wanted, undid the cover and off he went, all in 20 minutes of mooring up.
Just as the kettle was about to be put on a boat came past heading towards Wigan, our morning cuppa put on hold so that we could catch them up to partner through the locks, good timing. NB Zelda was the boat that had arrived at the Deep Lock yesterday just as we were going up. They were heading in the same direction as us at Wigan so we could share the four locks up and the two down the other side.
Thankfully the water levels at Pagefield Lock were good today. The last time we came in this direction the pound above was almost empty, but today the water was flowing over the bywash. This meant that Mick didn’t have to get the polishing cloth out and clean Oleanna’s mushroom vents as there wouldn’t be several hours of waiting for the level to rise.
The lady stood by the pier just looks more bored everytime we pass and the little chap over looking the bridge always has to have his photo taken, he’s one of my favourite canal side sculptures. I snapped his photo from a distance only later this evening did I realise that someone has de-cap-itated him! He used to wear a flat cap, but this has now gone. Poor poor fellow, he’s going to have a very chilly head this winter, maybe I should knit him a bobble hat and send it to the council.
Around the bend there is a new pontoon near to where C&RT have moved. Handy to get on and off your boat before the next lock. Except my key wouldn’t work in one of the padlocks and Mr Zelda had difficulty at the other gate but succeeded in the end. There was a group sat here with a couple of dogs that liked the sound of their own barking. It’s a good job I’m not scared of dogs as one bounded up to say hello and then gave my arm a nip. ‘Sorry love, he’s just saying hello’, And checking out that I tasted good!
Both boats turned right onto the Leigh Branch and worked our way down through the last two locks for some miles. At last we could now have that cuppa. The branch and the Bridgewater are wide and deep so it felt like we were zooming along. The low hanging foliage we’d cut our way through on our way up was now gone. By 1.30pm I turned the key of power on the panel to work Plank Lane bridge. At this time of day there isn’t masses of traffic and I even found a gap with not one vehicle visible to set the operation going, I still held up a few. Mick pulled Oleanna into the side and we moored up for the day. Here we will meet with Gary again in the morning.
It’s the third time we’ve stopped here. It’s good, plenty of friends to play with, just have to watch out for the woofers. Nowadays she always says that I’m ‘not to bring friends home, dead or alive’. She has never mentioned anything about the roof though, although Tom didn’t seem too pleased. It wasn’t going to be much of a party, I’d only got one friend up there before I was closed in again.