The hardest day so far. Of course it’s the L&L!
We are finally back on the Leeds & Liverpool canal albeit the Leigh branch after leaving the Bridgewater canal at Leigh bridge. Our first welcome was the electric lift bridge at Plank lane which was very busy with motorists – we hate being a nuisance. Poor motorists confused by traffic lights which can’t be seen from the bridge control box so it’s impossible for the bridge operator to wait for a break in the traffic to raise the bridge. Nightmare.
The canal was very pleasant to cruise on going through open countryside that had been transformed from its previous industrial past. The huge old cotton mills were an awesome sight – this place must have been terrible when they were all working.
By around midday we were coming to the outskirts of Wigan and the Poolstock 2 locks. They rivalled the Bosley locks for awfulness especially as from now on they are all broad locks. The Pound between the first and second locks was as low as we have seen anywhere including the Huddersfield Narrow. We only just avoided getting grounded – not helped by a hire boater ahead who had neglected to close the ground paddle after leaving the lock which drained the next pound.
Anyway, we got through and arrived at Wigan Junction earlier than anticipated when we set off this morning.
So we were now stuck on the horns of a dilemma. It was only 1.30pm, a beautiful sunny day and we didn’t fancy mooring up just yet but we were at the bottom of the Wigan flight – 21 broad locks in less than an ideal state of repair, minimal mooring between the locks, no other boat in sight to pair up with and share the work and the first lock at least was set against us !😩
So in typical WYVERN stubbornness we set off up the flight. If anything it was more difficult and tiring than anticipated as we were following another boat so every lock was against us and it was taking around 30 minutes to go through each one. You don’t need to be Stephen Hawking to do the math – this was going to take an awful long time!
After a couple of locks the boat ahead (really nice couple on a wide beam) became grounded so with “permission” we took their lock and doubled up with another narrow boat for a few more locks. Around 3.30pm we were exhausted having set off at 7.00am and decided it was wise to call a halt between the only 2 locks on the flight with dedicated (safe) mooring. By then we had done 10 locks (8 of the Wigan flight proper) and 16 miles today so not bad going.
On the last lock today we met a bunch of delightful boys of about 11, swimming in the lock, so gave impromptu lock lesson (with dangers stressed) and exploited them to help open and close the lock. We repaid by retrieving their swimming stuff with the boat hook. Really nice kids. The lockies who turned up later said the locks ahead on the flight are treated as swimming pools by the local kids and it’s locally fine. (?)
Not totally happy with the mooring but it seems ok, just a busy towpath and we are quite tired so traffic noise seems a bit grating. So early supper and early night I think.
Tomorrow we will be off early to do the remaining 13 locks – it would be really nice if a boat came down tonight to set the locks for us 🤞. It has been a total hard physical slog today. Clothes were binned because they were beyond washing and instead of a glass of wine it was voltarol gel max all round (thanks mum!).
The weather is on the change this evening, the barometer had dropped and it feels like rain although the weather app says not. We would much prefer tomorrow to be overcast, no sun and no rain. We don’t ask for much 😉