Saturday, 31 May 2014

Lazing on the Lancaster

Monday 26 May, 14 miles, 9 Locks (a 3 lock staircase), 1 swing bridge.

So this was the day of the Ribble Link. Arrived at Tarleton lock and hung around trying to keep the boat in one place while we waited for the two in the lock to go down. It is a manned lock and they won't let you on to the river Douglas until the tide is in to a specific height. First pair of boats were on there way at 0900. We and another boat went down and onto the river at 0915. We were following the other boat into a reasonable current with no idea what speed we were doing. After weaving our way down the Douglas for about 4 miles we turned around the buoy and headed up the Ribble. Tide had now turned and we were pushing against the current again. After 3 miles we approached the entrance to Savick Brook, Diana rang the lock keeper to tell them we were about to enter, their reply was, "get a move on we are running out of water". In we turn and the outgoing tide swings us west of the entrance, back into the current and a fair bit of power on now we struggle a bit until finally we are in Savick Brook. I had forgotten what a brook was. Narrow, winding, shallow, and with the outgoing tide, fast running water, we bounced our way off mud banks and artificial walls through the sea lock until we reached the first of the "normal locks. Now time to relax. We are taken through lock 7 & 8 by the CRT staff. The next 3 locks we work ourselves with the couple we came across with. To complete the journey the CRT staff take us through the last 3 staircase of locks. They are deep and this is the first time Diana would have been in a deep lock. The other interesting part of this exercise is that you go in backwards as the turning basin at the bottom is too small for a 60fter.
Down the Douglas
Up the Ribble
Sculpture at top of the staircase
Now we are on the Lancaster canal and head into Preston as Murray, Diana's brother is joining us tomorrow.

Tuesday 27 May. zero everything.

We had been chatting to, Dave, a local from across the canal  where we moored. He was going to a shop next to the Railway station so took us in. It was a great walk into town as Dave gave us information about various buildings and the history of Preston. Murray arrived from Glasgow and we wondered around the town for a while before back to the boat for lunch. We went back to town about 1500 so Diana could get some of the problems with her Mac sorted out. A very helpful assistant from Western Mac gave us a great service. Wondered around a bit more of the town and decided a pub meal was in order. Nothing special.

Wednesday 28th May. 12 3/4 miles.

A wet day but we have to go as I'm not sure how full our sewer tank is and I will be happier if it is empty.
The Marina at Preston had a pump out but are now closed. First stop 1/4 mile. Just a water stop, no pump out here. The Boat yard at Swillbrook don't do pump outs. Nobody home at Moon Bridge Marina.
No pump out  at Bilsborrow but have been told there is one 1/2 mile further on. Nice location easy to get at mooring. This is a private facility so we need a token  which can be bought from a shop just down the towpath and over the bridge. A local tells us it closes at 1700, time now 1658. We turn around and go back to Bilsborrow as the pub, "Ow'd Nell" there has been recommended as a must visit. Another Pub Meal. Nothing special here.

Thursday 29 May, 4 1/2 miles.

Diana and Murray head off to Ow'd Nell's as it is a bit of an arts & crafts center. It was closed. Before lunch we head north again and stop before the pump out. We head off down the towpath and across the bridge to get our token. The token can be purchased from a farm shop. This Farm shop is part of a complex that was named destination Garden Centre of the year 2012 & 13. We spent time looking through garden, farm, cooking, gift shops then lunch in their cafe before back to the boat and pumped her out. Much relief. Carried on a few miles through rural environs to end up at Garstang.

Garden centre
A bit specific on speed limit

Monday, 26 May 2014

I can smell the sea air.

Friday 23. 12 miles, 8 locks, 3 swing bridges.
After thinking we had stopped at a peaceful place it turns out the local youths use the other side of the canal as a track to go somewhere. When we were in bed there was a lot of yelling and abuse hurled across the canal. On their way back some hours later they did the same and also heaved a stick at the boat. We kept our heads down and they carried on their way.
As we set off with a short run to Wigan another boat came around the corner so we had the company of a couple of Aussies from Diamond Creek to go through the locks with us. These were the first locks where we went up. At Wigan they turned right and we turned left so on our own again. I went looking for the Canal trust office to soon find they had gone home for the day. Off we go again, down the first lock and then again help arrives with another boat to help us through the next 3 locks before they pulled into their marina.Two more locks for us before we pull into Parbold. Once again we deserved a pub meal. First pub full, second one gave us a great meal and live music. We will be passing this way again with Joan & Denis so expect another pub meal then.

Saturday 24. 5 miles, 6 locks, 2 swing bridges
The previous night Diana had seen a couple of shops that needed her attention so she set off and I followed after a while. We had lunch at a local coffee shop before off to the DIY shop and supermarket. About now the heavens opened. After returning to the boat we put on our best wet weather gear and set off. As we turned up the Rufford Branch a boat full of blokes joined us. They had been waiting for someone to go through with. About now the rain eased up and eventually stopped. After 6 locks we stopped and left them to do the last by themselves. We stopped where two other boats were for a bit of security. It turns they we unoccupied.
View from Kitchen window

Sunday 25. 5 miles, 1 lock, 3 swing bridges.
In preparation for tomorrow I gave the boat a good checkover. Engine & gearbox oil, water, fan belts, cleared some rubbish from around the prop, emptied a build up of rainwater from the bilges etc. With this all done we passed through Rufford and stopped to look through Old Rufford Hall a National trust property. A couple of hours later off to Tarleton. As we pulled into a mooring at Tarleton a lock keeper from the Canal & River Trust came and gave us a briefing for tomorrow. I then rigged the anchor, and we made sure we could fit our life jackets before going to bed dreaming of what tomorrow might bring.
Just one more lock yo sea level.

One of many Top
Old Rufford Hall

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Two very different days

Wednesday 21 May. 5 miles, 27 locks, 1 swing bridge.

So this is going to be a big day. The weather threatening but fined up to be a reasonably warm day with no rain. They recon a 9 hour day to pass through the unsavoury part of Manchester. Set off at 0700. the boat moored next door last night left about 0530 so we knew all the locks would be empty. First lock and several after Diana had difficulty with the anti vandal key. Gates were heavy, paddles were the hydraulic type so not to hard to wind up. At about 1/2 way I was thinking we could only get through the first 18 locks and have to look for a place to moor in Piccadilly village. I could tell Diana was getting tired when I reminded her that the tub won't fill if you forget to put the plug in. Then along came help. A hire boat with a crew of 4 caught us up so they helped us through to speed up their passage. About now I started plotting how we could use them to complete the last 9 locks, known as the "Rochdale 9". These locks are double width, and yes that was the way they were going. We paired up with 2 boats in a lock and 4 working the locks. Double locks means double the weight of the gates. Some so heavy that chain and ratchet required to move them. What a disgusting introduction to Manchester. The first 3 were under buildings where the homeless live and pee. The  smell was worse than any urinal I had ever been in. I was concerned for the female crew working the locks, especially Diana, with her poor eye sight picking her way through the garbage under dark bridges. The ones not underground were not much better as we picked our way between old buildings to eventually emerge into a basin full of boats with only one space big enough for us to fit. We did make it in 9 hours but only because we had help. Dinner at a local restaurant and early to bed.

Thursday 22 May. 16 1/2 miles, 1 swing bridge, 1 lift bridge.

Our plan had always been to do short days and stay in one place for more than 1 night in interesting places. Today we just have to do the miles. Our spare days have been used up and we have a booking to go onto the Lancaster canal on Monday morning so we need to get closer. Rained most of the night and I was looking at standing on the back getting wet. By the time we got away the rain had eased to a few spits every now and then. I dressed in thermal vest, Tee shirt, Pola fleece jacket all covered up with a Gortex coat. Thanks Barry for leaving them on the boat. It was just as well. The day was cold and we have the heater on tonight. Headed off down the Rochdale to, Waters Meeting, turned right onto the Bridgewater, Leigh Branch and stopped for lunch at Worsley. A quaint Victorian town. Would have stayed the night if we hadn't used up those spare days. Continued on through the type of canals and country we enjoy. A bit like the Shroppy of 2010. Put the hammer down a bit to try and make it to a maned swing bridge which closed for the night at 1800. We arrived at 1750 to find out it is an automated lift ridge that can't be lifted until after 1800. Carried on for another hour on our way towards Wigan. Moored up on a picturesque bit of canal with nobody around..
The swing bridge: well it was the Barton Swing Aqueduct over the Manchester ship canal. The canal swings to let Ships go through. No ships today so we sailed straight over. It is listed  #4 of the 7 wonders of the waterways

No pictures today. More when I am not so buggered. Looking forward to the relaxing when we get to spend 3 weeks on the 41, lock free, miles of the Lancaster Canal next week

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

On to the Ashton

Saturday 17 May. 0 miles Zero Alternator.
Last night after pumping out the loo we backed out from the Portland Basin Marina and I noticed the charging warning light was on.
This morning Guy from the marina confirmed it busted and the best he could do was to have it sent to the re conditioner on Monday. Mean time we could put the boat on one of his mooring with power and he provided a battery charger to keep the batteries alive.We had a look around Aston-Under-Lyne. It was their once a year market so plenty to see and eat

Sunday 18 May. 0 miles.
We had intended to take the tram into Manchester but Diana was reluctant to go far from the boat.
During the night she woke me saying someone was on the boat. I couldn't hear anything but got up and looked around and couldn't see anything. In the morning the bow mooring line was missing the rear line was undone and the center line was very slack. She was right someone had been on the boat.
I attach the lines differently now.

Monday 19 May.0 miles.
First thing was to get the alternator off and into the Marina for them to organise fixing.
Diana made a quick trip to AZDA to return a Duvet we bought yesterday. She had seen an "IKEA" store and needed to go there so buying a Duvet there was a good start. She came back to the boat for lunch then we went to town to the bank and I left Diana at Ikea. A new alternator arrived at 4:30 but by the time it was in it was too late to move.

Tuesday 20 May. 2 1/2 miles.
The advise going through Manchester is to start the 18 locks before 10am. there was no way we could do that. By the time we had my engineering skills! checked and sorted payment to the marina it was 1130. We have moved down the Ashton as far as the locks and are in a new secure marina which is still being developed.

Friday, 16 May 2014

End of the Peak forest.

Friday 16. 5 1/2 miles, 1 lift bridge, two tunnels.
After yesterdays hard graft an easy morning was had at the bottom of the locks before heading off through more country side with the odd motorway crossing overhead. The boat got a couple of bruises. the first when we went through a tunnel that was so narrow that the top edge fit the side. The second when a sharp turn to go under the motorway was taken a bit fast and we bounced of the approaches. I hope to improve my skills with time.

Around the corner is the end of the Peak Forest Canal

From our lounge window.
The chimney is owned by a collector of chimneys

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Marple 16

Monday 14. 5 miles 2 swing & 2 lift bridges.
Hooray. The weather is fine and we are away. Paid a few bills at the marina. Didn't have that problem in 2010 when we swapped the 5th wheeler for Dave & Lynn's "Llanarrow". A gentle and peaceful run through the country side. If you want to enjoy the smells that we got as we passed the Matlows factory at New Mills, put a few boiled sweets in a pan and melt at a low heat. Marple top lock was the destination for today. A coffee in town then a walk down the locks to see what was in store for tomorrow.

Thursday 15. 1 mile, 16 locks. 214ft vertically
The day started with finding that I hadn't tightened up a jubilee clip enough when I replaced a leaking pipe last week. Under the sink was saturated. The clip is now tight. Off to the top of what we have been told are some of the toughest  and deepest locks on the network. Yes Dave, you were right, especially as Diana had not swung on a windlass in almost 4 years.
As we approached the top lock Diana indicates that a boat is coming up. This is good news as all the locks will be full for our trip down. Wrong. The person approaching was a CRT volunteer to tell us we were not going anywhere as most of the ponds were empty. Still not sure if a paddle had been left open or there was a leak in the canal. A couple of hours later he decided there was enough water for us to start down. What a god sent this volunteer was as he help Diana with all 16 locks. Some of which she just could not open, I tried to help and yes they were tough.
2 1/2 hours later we were at bottom lock and tied up for the Night.
Lock 16 Going down
Lock 1. Made it

This volunteer made our day

Tuesday, 13 May 2014


Monday 12
Nick at T W Marine is very good at what he does and has customers all around the world. Trouble is he is in such demand and being at his door step doesn't put you at the head of the que but he will get to your problem on the day. Eberspacher was fixed late in the day and the leaky flange will be repacked first thing in the morning. We settled in for the night in a nice warm boat.

Tuesday 13
Nick calls in Jim to fix the leak. Not the simple job it should have been. After much discussion it turns out that a modification has been made since last time it was repacked and the engine will have to be moved to do the job. At this point Diana and I decide to walk to New Mills to see the bank about the debit card. British banking not getting any easier. The fantastic manager had spent the morning trying to sort out what had happened to the card to be told a card can't be issued on that type of account. He then managed to find a solution by opening a new account. Half an hour after we started they needed to see my passport. Your right, passport on the boat, time is 1430, bank closes 1530. A quick return trip to the boat 55min. I left the bank at 1630, everything signed and sent off. We now wait to see if it works as intended.

Back to the boat issue: We arrive back after every one had gone home to find boat all closed up and tidy.Talked to Nick later and they couldn't repack the flange but have changed things around enough to tighten it up to stop the leak. Looks like next winter they will move the engine forward enough to make repacking the flange an easier job. So although we are a day behind the program waiting should be over tomorrow and we will be in Marple for the night.

Finished the day with dinner at our local pub, the "Soldier Dick" voted the best pub in Derbyshire 2013.

Last time on the canals we watched the ducklings grow as a way to measure the passing of time

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Shake down cruise.

Thursday 8 May.-3 miles, 1 swing bridge (twice).
Weather not the best and no boats were coming past so waited for someone to tell us they got passed the sunken cruiser. Got away after lunch heading north to the first winding hole (A wider part of the canal where you can turn around. Turned and passed the Marina again before mooring up at Bugsworth Basin. The busiest inland port on the canal network. The preservation society have done a great job of restoration and promoting the history. Dinner at the Navigation Inn.
Diana's first swing bridge.
The empty space

Friday 9 May.
English summer not improving. Picked up for a while in the afternoon so explored the basin before hunkering down for the night.
Molly Rose in front of The Navigation Inn

Sat 10th May.  less than 1 mile. A significant day. Brother Al should have turned 60.  
Forecast max temp 9C. Moved to Whaley Bridge. Why? because it was near. Took a walk through the town to find it full of interesting antique shops. Closed! Back to the boat to dodge the rain and warm up. Yeh Right. The Eberspacher (diesel heater) decided not to work. Hottie and a feather duvet got us through the night.
An old tramway that brought limestone to the Whaley Bridge Canal

15 years in Wellington winds couldn't blow out an umbrella But one day in Whaley Bridge could.

Sun 11 May. Just over a mile.
Tesco supermarket is alongside the canal so we did a bit of shopping. Now I have rum on the boat and Diana has whiskey. Just to help keep us warm of course. Now back on the Marina at Furness Vale so Nick, the boat expert, can sort out some of the issues and help me understand a bit more about the workings of Molly Rose. Backing into the marina was an interesting exercise but the owners of the boat next door were very helpful. A great way to meet your neighbors. Even better when they offer an electric heater for the night.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Too wet to move

Today was to be the day to move off. The plan was to move towards Manchester. Well about a mile, where we would moor up and then walk another mile to New Mills so Diana could go to the dentist. The idea of arriving at the dentist cold and wet didn't impress Diana so we took a taxi. Dentist visit successful and now there is a lot happier girl, Drugs haven't worn off yet. Walked home via the tow path to find the canal closed with a sunken cruiser (plastic type) on one side and a narrow boat gone aground trying to get passed. Guess we were meant to take a taxi.
The positive side of still being on the Marina is that the local and proclaimed to be the best Fish & Chip shop is only open for diner on a Wednesday & Thursday so Haddock & chips for me. Lovely fish, the chips a bit different so I reserve my opinion on them.

Lyme Park. A quick visit when returning the car.
A full day visit required in the future

New Mills from the tow path

Molly Rose & friends from tow path.

Monday, 5 May 2014


We are back in the UK.
30th April...Arrived at Manchester from Abu Dhabi on Wednesday night. A long time through immigration. While they spent their time sorting out one couple the rest of us waited. We had expected to go through the EU line with Diana's Irish passport but no she had to come through "the others" line with me. Met Uncle John, the uncle of the previous owners. What a delightful 85 year old gentleman who was looking after us while we get sorted.
1st May...Thursday was Stockport to sort out sim cards for phones. Picked up a rental car then off to the boat with Uncle John. Molly Rose was in good condition considering she had been feeling unloved for the last 8 months. It was great to have John with us as he has spent many trips on her and knew how Barry & Kath did things.
Diana & Uncle John

2nd May...Friday. I have had a very bad throat and now with a bit of jet lag didn't get under way till late in the morning. Drove to New Mills to see the bank about a debit card. Very helpful but the banking system is "Very British" and after three attempts and over an hour I hope they will have a card for me next week. Off to the boat with Nick from T W Marine, who has serviced the boat most of its life, took me over all the things I should know. Barry & Kath had given us a very good rundown when we saw them in February but nothing like seeing what you are talking about. Diana has been bringing back to life the interior and I raised the N Z flag to complete the Ownership change. We finished the day on the boat with a cuppa, a bit of reminiscing about our time on Llanarrow in 2010 and looking forward to the next 5 months.
The Kiwi flag is flying
3rd May...Saturday we packed up from Uncle John's and arrived at the boat to settle in. As we needed a duvet we went to the Town of Buxton 10 miles away. A couple we meet at lunch in New Mills on Friday told us it was a Spar town as good as Bath, which we love. They were right and Diana has a heap of photos to prove it. Back to Molly Rose for our second meal on her. The first had been as guests of Barry & Kath 4 years ago. Followed by a great nights sleep.

Railway Hotel & bridge, Buxton.
4th May.... Sunday a day of more sorting out our things and continuing to find out more about the boat and how it all works. Back to Buxton to buy more stuff to make life easier.
5th May.. Diana has been cleaning windows and I have been polishing the exterior, still a bit to go. We return the car tomorrow so a big shop at Tescos and then we cooked dinner for Uncle John as it will be our last chance to spend an evening with him until we return in September.