Saturday, 22 August 2020

Northwich to Manchester to Tarleton to Liverpool - at last!.. PHOTO HEAVY

It's been quite a busy time sine I was last here...  I'll explain.  Whilst down 'playing' on the Weaver, I had a call from a chap wanting to know if we could fit him in before our next planned trip.

Being skint thanks to covid and lack of support from Boris EVER amenable, we quickly worked out a plan to offer a 3 night trip on the river AND incorporate the return journey up the Anderton Boat lift at the same time.

This meant initially that we might have to abandon the planned trip the other way (down to Runcorn) on the river given the restricted locking operational days.

Tying up in Northwich the night before the chap was due to arrive, it  had all gotten a bit congested and when we went to fill the water tank, we "lost" our space.  Looking across to the Marina (with apparent spaces) it seemed logical to give them a call and see if we could tie up for the night - plugged in to shoreline.

The lovey Heather was most helpful and we were able spend the night on a floating pontoon - plugged in to the national grid.

Having developed a bit of a rapport with the chap arriving, I'd explained he'd need to sign our covid disclaimer and agree to having his temperature taken twice daily - (infrared rather than rectally)😉  and David even made a valiant effort at a "duck" towel for him...

If you are coming along at some point, don't expect this every time... we had time on our hands lol.

Once our guest was on board (and covid proofed), we discussed options... he was game to head down stream and try to get to the end of the river and back in the time... in the end, we had MORE than enough and ended up almost wasting  time.  At least heading down stream meant we wouldnt get stuck if the lockie was forced to work to rule - the locks holding up to 24 boats at a time!

We spent our first night together moored just after the last lock - the plan being to chug down to the "end" the following day before overnighting at Devil's Garden (referred to as enchanting in the guide) in readiness for our return up stream the next day...

It was a nice enough evening, but the next morning the wind had gotten up and rain was intermittent.

The run down to Runcorn was uninspiring and the squalls coming and going made for some miserable cruising - still, we made the best of it and stopped off to take a look over at the ship canal.

ON our return, the rain was awful and on tying up at Devil's Garden, we STILL decided to go for an exploratory walk... in the mud!

Still, AFTER our walk, the sun DID return and the evening ended nicely.

Next day we returned to Northwich for our final night with our guest and then went up the boat lift as planned.  Saying goodbye to him, we winded and then began our journey to pick up the next guest.  Alas, he emailed to cancel as due to the quarantine restrictions imposed (he was coming from overseas) he'd be unable to join us in Runcorn on Sunday as planned.    

Rather then detour to Runcorn, we hatched a revised plan to head straight to Manchester and have a couple of nights in the Marina again - where I planned to paint the roof, fit some fairleads and give the boat a good clean.  Once again, PLANNING to do jobs meant something would break... THIS time it was my drill - it finally burned out drilling the holes for the fairleads and that necessitated a walk to screwfix to buy a replacement (I'd only drilled 1 of the 4 holes when it melted)...

The walk from the marina to the shop wasn't too far (circa 1.5 miles each way) but in the  heat by the time we'd got there (and put on the required mask to enter the store) I could understand perhaps why so many folks get agitated wearing them... I have to admit it should be ALL folks in the shops not just the customers... no point in moaning about that however.  The walk back, did introduce me to a sad sign of the times... masks now beginning to litter the streets!

Once back in the marina, I finished fitting the fairleads, washed down the roof of the boat and then applied a coat of paint.  To be honest, it was WAY too hot to be painting but I added a bit of white-spirit to the paint and made as good a job as I could ...  it's ok and has at least sealed in the non-slip granules properly now.

IT really did get hot though - being in the marina (in full sun all day) the boat was like a sauna...

Although for some reason, "Vinny" the marina managers dog, didn't seem to want to sit in the shade of the parasol -opting for full sun!

When our time was up, we left and headed off towards Appley Bridge where our next guest was due to join us.  The weather still kind to us, we enjoyed the trip along the Bridgwater to the Leigh Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool

We spent a night at Pennington flash where I witnessed my first "live" mirmiration (sorry no photos - I did take a video but can't find it now)and then went on through Wigan in the sun (for a change) before tying up in the old lock arm after Appley Bridge - a leak recently occurring there has meant crt have filled the hole, cut down some trees and taken the edge off the mooring... THAT said, I did at least see many kingfishers whilst there so it's not all bad.  I've got some photos somewhere that David took and once I work out how to get them out of Whats app into my normal gallery, I'll upload them!

Once our guest arrived, we chugged off towards our ultimate destination of Liverpool.  Having looked at the map, we decided there'd be time for a quick diversion down the Rufford branch to Tarleton (Ribble link) so that was a nice detour.

Although a lot longer than I remembered it from 2018

Once back on the mainline, we chugged on to Maghull and through to Melling where we planned to stop the night before the run into the docks - reputation of the rough areas ahead being our primary motivation.  The canal beyond Maghull was quite weedy and after way too many trips down the weedhatch, once tied up for the night, we decided to head out to the Bootle Arms for tea (taking advantage of Boris's "eat out to help out" discount.  

It was nice enough  - if a bit chaotic.

The journey next morning towards Litherland left a lot to be desired...  the canal being full of junk and general yuk.  

Once at Litherland services, we stopped to get rid of rubbish and top up the water tank .  As the wind began to get up again that proved to have been a good idea... 

It rained solidly from Litherland through Bootle to Eldonian village and by the time we arrived at the locks, I was soaked to the skin.  Jules (the lockie) was there and helped work us down through the flight - providing information and advice at each lock.  

Not many boats in ... and even less as I type this (Saturday morning) as 2 left yesterday before the link was closed due to high-winds....

More are due to arrive today (them being held at Eldonian village over night) so hopefully we'll have a few neighbors before the day is out.

We got  until Wednesday now to explore and experience Liverpool - it's good to FINALLY have made it here on the boat after a couple of thwarted previous attempts.

Until next time...

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