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Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Epic Journey - Tick!

WHAT a weekend that was...

Everyone we talked to said "it's impossible - you'll never make it - you're mad"... you get the gist.

You really think folk would have learned by now not to say that to a 'ginger super hero' wouldn't you?

Now OK - even I thought we wouldn't make it but that wasn't going to stop us trying...  BEFORE we began, I'd already primed my brain to expect AND accept defeat and talk itself into thinking it'd be nice to spend 3 weeks trapped in the long pound between Wigan top and the bottom of Johnson's hillocks.... which isn't actually a bad place to be.

Crt had (via badgering of the business manager bloke) agreed to open the bottom lock at Gargrave at 8am Friday instead of 10am, in a bid to give us a chance of getting into Barrowford locks before they close entry at 3pm.

Working on the principle we might get delayed by other boats, (and with a birthday cheque from dad to finance it) I asked for help off a couple of chaps...  THATS something I'm learning as I go through life ... to ask for help when you can't do things on your own.  NOT an easy thing for me but as time trundles on, something I can accept.   I suppose in business terms, it's just a matter of knowing how to respond to situations you can't control yourself and know WHEN to ask for backup.

I'd asked a day boat skipper if he'd fancy a days boating (socially distanced of course) and if he had a mate that might come along and crew too - turned out, his mate was also a friend who I'd not thought to ask, as he had further to travel and BOTH of them are far better skippers than 'Capt. Ellis' lol.

In TRUE boating form, Friday morning arrived Wet and VERY windy...  so, after a night of NO sleep through a combination of fretting like a fool pitching and rolling, at 7.30 the first Adam arrived ... a few minutes later the CRT chaps turned up (earlier than expected) and before 8, the lock was emptying and we were on our way.

The wind and rain made for a very unpleasant start...HOWEVER, as well as the recruits, the CRT chaps also worked in relay with our team going ahead and having the Gargrave AND Bank Newton locks set ready - especially useful in the wind.    I didn't take my first photo until half way up Bank Newton


We made it up to the top of there in record time (10.30) which meant nearly an hour ahead of my planned schedule)... an hour we WERE to need however as by Greenberfield locks (the summit) we came across a boat coming down - followed by 2 others also doing the same - BOTH Of which effectively Stole the locks! NOT cricket with water being so scarce...  THAT Said, you can see why given how much pisses leaks through the bottom gate of this lock...  perhaps THAT could have been patched up during the last 12 weeks of no boat movements eh?

ANYWAY - stolen  locks a side, we were up and into the bends in still 20 mins ahead of where we'd planned...  

The next bit was a slower than hoped due to the depth - I left Adam 2 (both helpers were called Adam) in charge whilst I went below to make bacon butties... it was funny hearing him try and sneak a bit more speed out of 'Ellis' and then accepting more power would slow us down due to a combination of shallow water and deeper draft... he seemed to really be enjoying himself and made the journey far more sociable than it might otherwise have been.  

We hit the tunnel Just  before the  light was changing to red and knew we'd need to get a move on (20 mins available from red one end, to green at the other) - usually you can get through in about 16 and I've done so MANY times... SOD's law this time dictated  a prop foul not far from the exit and just as we came out, another boat was coming in - a bit shirty to be honest accusing us of going in on  red...  I cheerily warned them to take it steady and be ready to hit reverse if they encountered whatever it was that hampered our progress.

We got to the top of Barrowford around 2.30pm 

as we descended, I couldn't resist a quick selfie


The rain and wind had eased a bit now and the sun kept sneaking out too!

Once down Barrowford, we stopped to say our goodbyes to Adam 2 and he seemed disappointed not to be coming along...  WE still had a long way to go before bed ... about 3.30 we then chugged onward whilst the weather was still ok.  

We did have a few prop fouls - the worse being a scarf and a fishing net... the rubbish in the canal through Burnley being as bad as ever... such a shame.


Stopping off at Rose Grove Services to fill the water tank, we had to clamber over a boat "conveniently" marooned there due to a combination of Lock down and then illness... there WAS space further back for it to be tied up but in true selfish form, they were ON the water point to save buying a longer hose ... they'd only been there for 12 weeks! - no hope of using a click and collect or post restante service to get a bigger hose??? hmmf.... ANYWAY - after I'd made my point with noisy clambering, the tank was full and we chugged off.


We finally made it through to a nice bit just between Church and Rishton. by about 9pm.

When I picked up my laptop to update the 'Thunderboaters' on our days progress, I notced I'd received a message from a chap I'd exchanged a few pleasantries in 2018... HE lives in the area and offered to meet us at Blackburn in the morning to speed us down the flight and ALSO Johnson's Hillocks...

On chuggin off (5.30 am) I was NOT as enthusiastic as the former selfie. I figured as there were no swing bridges ahead, I'd leave David asleep whilst I get ahead of the weather...  apparently I am NOT very quiet when pulling ropes through chains and taking fenders off lol.


We got to Blackburn WAY too early as it happened...(7.40) but I sent the ops manager a text message on the off chance asking if he might be able to get them opened before 10...  AS it happened, the crt chap arrived just before 9 and kindly opened up - and by this point Pete the helpful "wrong side of the border" bloke turned up too  and we were one our way in no time.



With Blackburn behind us,  once again Pete came to our aid at the top of Johnsons Hillocks.  The top lock proving a popular place to drink in the sun even though it's closed... with folk turning up with cans to watch the boats moving.



Once down the locks we carried on with the final leg of the journey to Wigan top...  the sun was out, day boats too and "canal life" felt normal again...


On arrival at Wigan, there was a space available right by the lock just after the water point, and we tied up there circa 5.30pm...  

We'd arranged to pair up with Ted and Judith on Goldilocks- a couple I'd met last year and done a pub quiz in the Anchor...  THEY had arranged for a group of helpers to come along the following morning to help work them down the locks.  ALSO at the top, was Pete the chap who had been do helpful to us earlier in the day.

We took our chairs over and sampled a few gins a mate of his makes... all I supplied was the tonic - it did feel a bit cheeky but the wine stocks were gone and a side from a couple of cans of beer, we had nothing on board to share.  RAIN came and we retired around 9pm.

Pete was first in the queue to work a pair down and because we had such a big crew, David kept going ahead to set locks and help him to ... a bit of karma re-balancing...




Ted and I (for the most part) exited and entered locks in parallel like pros... a couple of the by washes messing things up but we actually looked like we knew what were doing at times!

AT the bottom, the helpful crt bloke came and unlocked early for us and we had an impromptu picnic lunch along with the other boats in the flight... 

I've missed out a couple of negative comments in regards some older boaters that were NOT being very helpful to a boat that kept breaking down during it's descent of the flight - a little un kind in my opinion... this boat had been bought by a lovely woman and she was travelling home with her son - their first lock ever , being the top of Wigan!!! ... the 'older boaters' refusing to tow them on the basis that their engine wasn't brilliant... (or rather didn't want to put it under any strain).

Long story short, I sent word back up the flight for them NOT to worry as 'Ellis' would tow them out of the area and to somewhere nicer...

THEY went on ahead at tickover (they can manage about half an hour on tickover before it overheats) and we came across them around Scotsmans flash -the 'oldies' having over taken them and carried on their way.

We stopped along side, breasted up and towed them for a couple of hours until we got to Pennington Flash where we'd planned on stopping for the night.



This gave the young bloke chance to tinker...

As we tied up for the night, they 'tickovered' off.

A couple of hours later, Goldilock arrived and we shared their supper with them (socially distanced of course) a keg of beer and some of my birthday cake - photos WERE taken but for some reason, my phone has changed from jpegs to .heic and I've yet to work out how to convert them!  I can only get this one to work...



Rain came again so we retired to our respective boats for a well earned rest.

Yesterday morning was glorious and having just spent 12 weeks under house arrest, I decided it would be nice to chug on a bit further...  as it happens, I got a message from the lady on the broken down boat to say they had a mechanic looking at their engine now but if we come there way, might we act as 'back up'.

That was the decider so after a late breakfast, off we chugged - stopping to get essentials in Aldi Leigh and then water at a hidden tap.

The weather didn't hold... by Worsley it was thundering quite badly so we tied up and sheltered for an hour...  and just when we set off, we came across them overheating again... We lashed together again and off we chugged for a few more hours.  Once at 'waters meeting' we untied them, they went right and we made a detour into Manchester centre for an impromptu attempt at the Rochdale 9 - just for fun.





CRT had other ideas however, as they were chained shut - when I then checked on line, a stoppage was in place from 15.59 due to an obstruction that would be moved today... oh well... a night in Castlefield Basin it was then... which is where we start today!

I've exchanged numbers with the breaking down boat - they are a lovely family and hope this first experience of canal life doesn't put them off too much... although to be honest, they've both got such a big grin on their faces, I doubt it will - we'll provide back up again in a couple of days when I suspect we'll catch up with them around Lymm.

Until Next time...






5 comments:

Tom and Jan said...

Jeez Mark, it would take a mortician a week to get the smile off that first selfie..... and a fortnight to fix the second! LOL

Carol said...

An epic journey! I bet you're glad to get that done!

nb Chance said...

Glad you made it off the L&L, hope enjoy your time in Manchester pity Im stuck in India I would have walked down to have met you, Glad all is OK Doug x

Unknown said...

Fantastic Mark, been wondering how you got on

Brian and Diana on NB Harnser http://nbharnser.blogspot.com said...

Good to see that smile back and that cake was something else