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