Book 12

Canal Cruising 2016

An e-Book and website by Cyril J Wood

The title photograph shows Salford Quays on the Manchester Ship Canal at dusk


Click here for the latest entries or on the required section below to follow links

Chapter 1 - Canalmanac 2016

  Chapter 2 - Easter Escape


Chapter 3 - Scouse Saunter - Summer Cruise 2016

Canalography 2016


Return to Introduction


Chapter 1 - Canalmanac 2016

I usually receive at least one Christmas or birthday card that has a canal scene on it and 2015 was no exception. I received a birthday card from my grandchildren showing a wide-beam trip boat being pulled by a horse on, I think, the Kennet and Avon Canal near Newbury, which I have reproduced here for your appreciation.

Illustration from a birthday card showing a horse-drawn trip boat on (possibly) the Kennet and Avon Canal

Our first visit to Lymm in 2016 was on the 16th January when we braved the cold weather to check on the boat and do a couple of jobs. On arrival the canal was frozen but the ice wasn't very thick. Our mooring was not frozen due to the land drain that runs down the location of the old gas works arm that once branched off the canal here.... hence the increased width of the canal. Even so we turned on the central heating and whilst we waited for the boat to heat up did a few jobs and then had lunch. We decided to stay on board overnight and after tea it started to snow quite heavily.

Lymm Jetty Moorings covered in a blanket of snow...

...and looking down the moorings in the opposite direction

We were cosy and warm on board and every so often looked out of the window to see if the snow was sticking... which it did. Next morning everywhere was covered in a blanket of snow and Ruby had to be coaxed out for her morning constitutional. It was her first real experience of snow as she was only a small puppy when it last snowed. She eventually enjoyed it though and tried to eat the snowballs that Ange threw for her.

Ruby playing in the snow

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Before we left for home a boat went past breaking the thin ice and leaving a narrow ribbon of clear water in its wake. As we journeyed home along the M56, the closer we got to the Wirral (and home) the more the snow dissipated. As usual the warming properties of Liverpool Bay plus that of the rivers Dee, and Mersey ensured that Wallasey is well insulated and protected from inclement weather. The result being that when we reached home one would not have known that it had been snowing!

Hardy souls braving the snow and ice

Looking towards the Winding Hole along the Lymm CC moorings

The following weekend we travelled down to the Isle of Wight to visit Ange's brother Colin who was celebrating his fiftieth birthday. Although not canal related it is hard not to visit an island such as this without there being some boating connections. Ruby did not accompany us this time but was having a small holiday of her own by being looked after by my daughter Lisa. On the journey down to Southampton I passed the time away in my usual way by canal spotting. There were tempting glimpses of the Trent and Mersey, Birmingham, Coventry and Oxford canals not to mention passing beneath the isolated aqueduct that will one day carry the Litchfield Canal across the M6 Toll Motorway. One day in the not too distant future we hope to be able to navigate this canal once restoration is completed.

The isolated Litchfield Canal Aqueduct over the M6 Toll Motorway

Whilst Ange and the rest of the family were entertaining the children I took myself off for a walk to take photographs. Whilst the light was not perfect for photography at least it wasn't raining and there was some detail in the sky. Using my over-sixties bus pass I caught the number nine bus to Wootton Bridge where there are quite a few boats moored on tidal moorings to look at. Most of the craft are sailing boats but I came across at least one that was worthy of capturing photographically.

Tidal moorings at Wootton Bridge on the Isle of Wight

A beautiful cruiser seen at Wootton Bridge

Back in Ryde there is a marina (unsurprisingly no narrowboats were present) and whilst walking around it a smile came to my face when I came across a boat owner power-washing his boat on the slipway in preparation for repainting. I knew exactly how he was feeling and thought his will be me in a couple of months when nb Squirrel comes out of the water for hull cleaning and re-blacking. He had to use a generator to provide electricity for his power washer... Lymm CC members don't know how well off they are with having electricity provided for doing this!

Ryde Marina

A boat owner at Ryde Marina power-washing his boat prior to repainting

Our time on the Island was over all too soon and we made our way back home. We are looking forward to our next visit when it will hopefully we will be accompanied by Ruby (we have already found a dog-friendly hotel and café) and it will be warmer than it was on this visit. In the future it might be possible to reach the South Coast by narrowboat once the Wey and Arun Canal is restored from Guildford on the River Wey to where it meets the River Arun. From there it is only a stone's throw to Portsmouth were there is a ferry service to Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight. This waterway was highlighted in Series Three of Channel 4 Television's Great Canal Journeys featuring Timothy West and his wife Prunella Scales. Unfortunately I do not think that we will see this restoration project completed in our lifetime but we can dream can't we? For more information about this waterway visit the Wey and Arun Canal Trust's Website or have a look at P A L Vine's excellent book... "London's Lost Route to the Sea" published by the legendary David and Charles who were responsible for publishing many of my favourite canal (and railway) books.

Map of the Wey and Arun Canal

(Map - Wey and Arun Canal Trust)

Restoration of Gennets Bridge Lock on the Wey and Arun Canal

(Photograph - Inland Waterways Association)

Every so often one comes across a photograph that you wished that you had taken yourself. Such a photograph is Stuart France's photograph taken outside Marple on the Peak Forest Canal after a dusting of snow and I make no excuses for reproducing it here. Paul Savage brought my attention to the photograph after he had seen it on Facebook. Paul's son Oliver suggested that the photograph had been manipulated in Photoshop but after inspecting it closely I don't think that it was and the photographer was "lucky with the light" and in the right place at the right time (sorry Oliver).

Stuart France's beautiful photograph of Marple on the Peak Forest Canal

(Photograph - Stuart France)

After one of the wettest winters I can remember, the daffodils and snowdrops are now starting to push their buds through the soft, waterlogged ground without too much resistance. I am looking forward to when I can play the Enya album "A Day Without Rain" without the title being contradictory! We are also preparing our to-do list for the boat to get it ready for the forthcoming boating season as well as planning various cruises including our summer holiday cruise.

Enya's A Day Without Rain album sleeve (nice font!)

Lymm CC's AGM saw no fewer than seven Committee members (eight if you include yours truly) either resigning or not standing for re-election. The retiring Committee members were thanked by the Chairman for their efforts and when it came to my name being mentioned there was a big cheer of support. It is only at times like this that one realises just how much you are appreciated by your fellow members. It is going to be an interesting period for the Club with a new Committee bringing new ideas and I, along with many other members that I have spoken to, will be watching developments with interest.

The union that I belong to called a day's strike for Wednesday the 24th February so after spending an hour or so on the picket line (suitably sustained with bacon barm and coffee) Ruby and I headed up to Lymm to do a few jobs on the boat and pay our membership/mooring fees.

Yours truly and Ruby (far right) on the picket line

(Photograph - Peter Blood)

When we reached Lymm the day started off cold but soon warmed up when the sun rose higher in the sky. I had concerns about how one of our mooring ropes was secured on our jetty mooring so I fitted an extension to the support mooring pole which seemed to solve the problem. Other jobs included replacing a locking bolt on the rear sliding hatch and refitting some of the rear deck cover fittings which were secured with supposedly stainless steel self-tapping screws but had started to corrode and needed replacing (thanks a lot B & Q - not!). Quite a few boats went past with the crews well wrapped-up but by mid-afternoon it started to cloud over and it looked like rain so we put the tools away, tidied-up, put the boat to bed and headed for home. Half-way home the sun came out again so we pulled off the motorway at Ellesmere Port and stopped at Stoak to take some photographs of the Shropshire Union Canal. One can glimpse the canal from the M56 motorway but we seldom have the time to stop and explore. With having Ruby with me and time to spare it seemed only fair to stop and let her stretch her legs along the towpath. Sod's law came into play and half-way through our walk not only did it start to rain but hail stones fell as well. But this didn't stop me from taking a few photographs before sheltering under a bridge then returning to the car and resuming our journey home.

The "Shroppie" at Stoak in a hail storm

Regular readers might be interested in a new section to the Canalscape website... Gallery. Previously, the Gallery was located at the end of the Photography section but, due to increasing download times caused by the large amount of photographs, I have now given it a section of its own. The Gallery now includes the Photograph Gallery from Canalscape's sister website... Diarama. Virgin Media, in their infinite wisdom have decided to end the webspace facility offered to their subscribers. This is where the Diarama section of my websites was located and its removal necessitates transferring the pages to the Canalscape site which is hosted on a different Internet provider... 1&1. The Gallery was the first part to be moved and the remainder of the Diarama site will be moved within the next few weeks. There should be no disruption to readers but you may have to update your bookmarks and favourites before the old part of the Diarama site is deleted at the end of April.

Brenda Davies... an ex-colleague of Ange's that recently retired had been on a painting course at her local college. They arranged to meet for lunch and she presented Ange with one of her paintings. It was a canal scene that I think is of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near Scarisbrick. We have decided to hang the painting on the boat as we have a space in the front cabin that is crying out to be filled. Also, the subject material and the frame it is mounted in matches the painting on the on the opposite wall in the front cabin of the Packet House in Worsley.

The painting of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal by Brenda Davies... Ange's retired colleague

The Runcorn Locks Restoration Society have released its "Unlock Runcorn" film to promote the restoration of the in-filled flight of locks that, if restored, would reconnect the Bridgewater Canal to the Manchester Ship Canal adjacent to Bridgewater House and ultimately, the Weaver Navigation. This short film is narrated by Liverpool Comedian John Bishop who was born in Runcorn so it was fitting that he became involved in this worthwhile project. It was nice to see some of the archive photographs from "The Duke's Cut" used in it as well.

The week following Easter Weekend we had booked as holidays and we planned to spend the week on the boat cruising to Barbridge Junction. The Wednesday before Good Friday I took the day off work, drove to Lymm with ruby and took up some of our clothes, bedding and non-perishable food. I also made sure the inside of the boat was clean (which it was), filled up with water and ready to go when we arrived on Good Friday. Our week's holiday is covered in "Easter Escape" further on in this section. I took a day off work in the last week of the Easter Holidays to go up to Lymm, do a couple of jobs and bring home the clothes we didn't have room for in the car after our Easter holiday. The day started off foggy but the heat from the sun soon chased it away. On the way to Lymm I stopped at the Boat Museum to let Ruby relieve herself and took the photograph below.

A misty Manchester Ship Canal at Stanlow

Once at Lymm I fitted LED strip lighting beneath the gunwale in the corridor leading from the aft cabin to the lounge, tidied up and cleared the old wood left at the end of our jetty as well as removing some of the plant growth. By lunchtime the mist had cleared and the sun was warm enough to allow me to work in shirt sleeves. When the I had completed the jobs that I planned to do I locked up the boat, put the things in the car that were to be taken home then Ruby and I headed for Wincham Wharf near Northwich on the Trent and Mersey Canal to see how my daughter Lisa and her husband Nathan were getting on with the boat they had purchased (see Chapter Two - Easter Escape). They also wanted some advice regarding repairing the glass fibre hull of their Creighton Inlander 32. When we arrived I was amazed at the amount of work they had already achieved. The rear cabin was completely stripped as was the front cabin and Lisa was on her hands and knees cleaning the inside of the hull. I suspect that they are going to have a good bonfire with the timber that they have removed. With the inspection complete and advice given it was time to head down the M56 before rush hour after a productive day that turned out to be the warmest day of the year to date!

Lisa on her hands and knees cleaning the stripped front cabin of Adeline

The following weekend was Lymm CC's cruise to George Gleave's Bridge near Daresbury. We were not able to attend due to a prior engagement... Paul Savage's fiftieth birthday party. We had considered cruising to George Gleave's Bridge or Stockton Heath and getting a taxi to the party venue in Warrington. In the end we decided to stay on the boat and drive to the party returning to Lymm afterwards. Ruby was being looked after by my sister-in-law Norma as it would be unfair to Ruby to leave her on the boat alone for that period of time. The party was well represented by Lymm CC members. As well as ourselves Bonnie and Mike Goldberg were there as were Mike and Phil Savage with their respective partners and families.

Birthday boy Paul with his beautiful cake

Paul's birthday cake is worthy of mention as it was in the shape of a canal scene complete with narrowboat (called Adreva), a lock and hump-backed bridge (numbered 50). It was a shame to cut it but at least it tasted as good as it looked. After the party we drove back to Lymm and spent the night on board our boat before returning home the following morning after a catch-up with some of our friends in the Club yard.

My nephew asked me to look at the laptop that once belonged to his father (my late brother) as it was running slowly and he wanted me to install some programs onto it. Whilst cleaning-up unwanted files I came across some old photographs of our family that I had not seen before. As well as family photographs there were some of canals that readers might find interesting. The first one is of a narrowboat possible taken in the 1940's or 1950's and judging by the profile of the bridge could be on the Shropshire Union Canal. My initial thoughts were of Bridge 109 at Beeston adjacent to where the Shady Oak is but I am open to suggestions. There looks to be a bridge number plaque in the centre of the bridge arch but the quality of the original photograph is not good enough to make out the number on it.

A narrowboat on possibly the Shroppie at Bridge 109 - Beeston

The second photograph is of a horse-drawn barge that looks suspiciously like a Leeds and Liverpool Canal Short Boat and the location could be on the Bridgewater Canal at Moore close to where the Post Office is today. Again... any suggestions for alternative locations are welcome.

Could this horse-drawn barge be at Moore on the Bridgewater Canal?

The third photograph shows what looks like a horse-drawn Llangollen Canal trip boat on the section above Llangollen towards the Horseshoe Falls at Llantisilio but the inlet on the towpath side of the canal is confusing as I do not recall a feeder running into the canal along that length of canal.

This looks like the Llangollen Canal near Llantisilio

May Bank Holiday weekend we went up to the boat on the Monday and planned to stay until the following day. The weather was warm and sunny and after lunch we cracked on with our job list. Ange changed the shower curtain and gave the bathroom a good clean whilst I was concentrated on finishing the under-gunwale LED lighting. After fitting an in-line connector box to the new 12 volt feed cables and located the switch, the power was connected and hey presto... it worked first time!

The under-gunwale LED lighting completed

After putting everything away we had visitors in the shape of Wendy, Paul and Oliver Savage who were returning from the Between the Tunnels Cruise then we had our tea and chilled out for the rest of the evening. Tuesday dawned bright and sunny and we cruised down to Stockton Heath to visit Thorn Marine to collect the new pipe fenders that I had on order as well as a couple of other items that we required.

The view from our mooring

On the way out of Lymm we were treated to the sight (and sound) of President... the steam powered narrowboat towing the butty Kildare making their way to the Steam on the Dock steam fair at Liverpool's Albert Dock (which we planned to visit the following weekend - watch this space). It is not very often that we have such distinguished visitors on the Bridgewater Canal and I later learnt that this was the furthest northerly trip that the pair had made. Needless to say the event was captured photographically.

Steam powered narrowboat President towing its butty Kildare

We had bought Ruby a new dog bed for the boat and she christened it on the back deck in the warm spring sunshine... money well spent I think. The cruise back to Lymm was very pleasant but uneventful and after putting the boat back on its mooring we made our way home after a both productive and relaxing couple of days.

Ruby basking in the sunshine on her new dog bed

Regular readers might remember that I reported on the delivery of five giant container cranes to Peel Holdings' new container berth at Seaforth known as Liverpool 2. Well completion of the terminal came a step closer this week with the delivery of another six container cranes... albeit smaller examples than the previous delivery. They came welded to the deck of the 233 mtr long Zhenhua 25 heavy lift ship, specially converted from a redundant oil tanker 30000+ km (18000+ miles) from the Zhenhua Heavy Industries Company (ZPMC) manufacturing facility in Shanghai. The photograph below and the first one featured in Canalscape Book 11 will be published in "Mersey Connections".

The second delivery of container cranes at Peel Holdings' Liverpool 2 container terminal

We had arranged to meet Paul and Wendy Savage at Liverpool's Albert Dock where the previously mentioned Steam on the Dock steam fair was being held. It was the first outing of the newly restored steam tug Daniel Adamson or "Danny" as it has been fondly Christened. All around the dock there were steam traction engines, steam rollers, a Foden steam lorry and a visitor from the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Narrow Gauge Railway in the shape of Lilla, an 0-4-0 Hunslet steam locomotive built in 1891 that was running on a short length of track specially laid for the event. We paused looking around the steam exhibits when we had lunch in one of the food emporiums that line the Albert Dock and with suitably full stomachs we continued our walk around the dock.

Steam on the Dock promotional poster

A traction engine visiting from Lymm

Salthouse Dock was next and when we reached the visitor moorings we visited President that was moored a couple of berths away from S4 where we were going to be mooring in a couple of months time on our summer cruise. I took photographs of President and was shown around the engine, boiler and how the coal hopper works by Dave Stott... President's chief engineer who was steering the boat when we passed it a few days previously at Lymm. Further discussions with Chris Walker... one of the volunteer steerers revealed that this trip was the furthest north that the boat and its butty had ventured. The Friends of President... the society that looks after the boat and its butty Kildare are looking for volunteer crew members and steerers. Needless to say an application form was requested as this is something that I would like to spend some time doing (if and) when I retire.

Berth S4 - where we will be mooring in August

President moored in Salthouse Dock

Dave Stott -  President's chief engineer

A samba band was giving a performance that included a couple of their musicians playing drums from the roof of President. Their playing was accompanied by yellow smoke from the boat as well. Needless to say the Leica was working overtime as there were photographs to be taken everywhere one looked. Good job I carried spare batteries!

President getting into position for the samba band performance

Members of the samba band performing aboard President

The samba band performing on the slipway

Coloured smoke accompanying the performance

All too soon it was time to head for home after an event that encompassed so many of my interests and passions. So we reluctantly said goodbye to our friends and looked forward to when we return to Liverpool on board our own boats in August.

Paul, Wendy, Ange, Shannon and myself at the Albert Dock

Our next outing on the boat was to be to the Federation of Bridgewater Cruising Clubs Annual Rally being held over the Bank Holiday Weekend. Last year it was hosted by our club... Lymm Cruising Club and this year it was the turn of the Bridgewater Motor Boat Club at Runcorn. We had received our mooring number (13A - just before the Brindley Theatre) and were looking forward to cruising down the Runcorn Arm which we seldom venture down and catching up with old friends at the rally.

We were saddened to learn of the death of Brian Gornell. Brian and his wife Joan were Lymm CC members who owned the narrowboat Forty Winks. Brian was a past Commodore of the Club and we had spent many happy hours in his company. We also cruised to Liverpool in 2007 when it was his Commodore's Summer Cruise ((see Canalscape Book 4 - Is There Still Life Below Wigan?). We shall be thinking of Brian whilst we are retracing our steps on the cruise to Liverpool this year (see Scouse Saunter).

Brian Gornell who recently passed away

When we bought Squirrel we noticed an additional Desmo table leg socket in the aft cabin and we had, on our "to do list" making an occasional table to fit to the socket. We had previously bought a new table leg and I had a couple of table sockets and a piece of ply wood (originally one of the bunk lids on our old boat Total Eclipse) cut into an oval on the band saw at work. Once home the Desmo socket was fitted, table top sanded down, cleaned and five coats of varnish applied. The resulting finish exceeded my expectations and we couldn't wait to try it out on the boat. When we did try it out the Desmo leg wouldn't fit securely in the floor socket. On inspection I discovered that the bottom of the socket had been trimmed in order to clear the ballast immediately below it so the leg had to be trimmed accordingly. this was done at home using my small angle grinder fitted with a cutting disc and did the trick.

Our new occasional table after five coats of varnish applied


One of the Bridgewater Canal's iconic locations - Lymm Bridge

The long Bank Holiday Weekend soon arrived and when we arrived at Lymm on the Friday afternoon after work we loaded the food, clothes, etc onto the boat and set-off for the FBCC Rally at Runcorn in the hot summer sunshine. The good light promised the possibility of renewing photographs of the Runcorn Arm and it did not disappoint either. The Runcorn Arm was a revelation... it was clean, a little bit weedy in places but on the whole a very pleasant waterway to cruise down. We can honestly say that we enjoyed our cruise to Runcorn helped, no doubt, by the wonderful weather and I would have no hesitation to cruise down this underrated stretch of canal again in the future.

Ange on the front deck whilst cruising down the Runcorn Arm

One of the few turnover bridges on the Bridgewater Canal - Norton Changeline Bridge

The Runcorn Arm near Norton Priory

In the past the Runcorn Arm has had a bad reputation caused by unruly youths and troublesome children but we did not experience any problems. This might be due to the fact that the Castlefields tenement blocks just past Norton Priory have been demolished and new, high quality houses constructed along the canal. I was interested to see the new Mersey Gateway (the new Runcorn Bridge) Approach Road Bridge across the canal, the construction of which will have far reaching implications for the canal in the respect of restoration of the Old Flight of Locks at Runcorn and the renewed connection to the Manchester Ship Canal.

Partially completed Second Mersey Crossing Approach Bridge across the Bridgewater Canal

When the new Mersey Gateway bridge is completed the existing Runcorn Silver Jubilee Road Bridge is to be used for local traffic only which will remove the need for a feeder road from the Runcorn Expressway which crosses the canal at Waterloo Bridge at low level blocking the navigation at this point. This feeder road bridge will then be demolished leaving the line of the canal unobstructed and allow the restoration of the Old Line of Locks and connection to the Manchester Ship Canal to take place. Construction of the new bridge is moving quickly and we could see the concrete support towers in the River Mersey rising above the trees and houses. More information about the proposed restoration is available from the Runcorn Locks Restoration Society at its "Unlock Runcorn" website and also the video about the project with a commentary by comedian John Bishop can be viewed from the website.

One of the Mersey Gateway Bridge support towers under construction

We arrived at Runcorn at tea time and found our mooring just before the Brindley Theatre. We were due to be the outside boat on the mooring (A13) but there was no other boat there when we arrived so we moored adjacent to a very pleasant stretch of towpath which had well cut grass for Ruby to play on. Once moored we went to Rally HQ to register our arrival and collect our "goody bag". When it was the previous year's rally at Lymm Ange was in charge of the Rally HQ and it must have been strange for her to be on the other side of the counter for a change. My daughter Lisa and her husband Nathan (Snr) are members of Runcorn BMBC and we had a chat to them and two of our grandchildren in the shape of Nathan (Jnr) and Grace. They were both helping out at the rally and were staying on Barbara Wood (my first wife) and her partner Paul Gourdji's boat Jusromin. There would not be a lot of space on the boat for them so seeing as we didn't have Shannon with us (she had hurt her foot and was on crutches) we agreed to let Nathan sleep on our boat.  Next we made our way to the rally marquee and collected our pie supper before sitting with fellow Lymm CC members for a catch-up on the latest news and happenings.

Ange and some of our friends at the FBCC Rally

The next day... Saturday was also hot and sunny. Ruby sat in her dog bed basking in the sunshine on the rear deck people (and dog) watching and even though she was not on a lead she made little attempt to get off the boat unless it was to say hello to passing dogs she liked the look of. We went to the Clubhouse for breakfast then had a look around the stalls selling books, bric-a-brac and boat related items. Needless to say a visit to the book stall provided a few additions to my canal book library! Later on in the morning it was the dog show. Ruby won a prize for performing her "high five" trick and was one of the better behaved dogs present. Everyone admired her glossy coat, pleasant temperament and her good manners. She delighted onlookers with her antics chasing a feather and soap bubbles. Ruby definitely made many new friends who greeted her by name... some of whom we didn't even know!

Ange and Ruby with her rosette at the dog show

Solar Reflection - the Sun reflected in the canal

The theme of the rally was Disney characters and that evening it was the Adults' Fancy Dress Competition. We both dressed-up... Ange as the Queen of Hearts from "Alice in Wonderland" and me as Darth Vader from "Star Wars". There were many entries in the Fancy Dress Competition ranging from the obvious Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Mary Poppins to name but a few. The standard of entrants was extremely high and the judges couldn't agree on an outright winner. In the end it was whittled down to eight winners, two of which were Ange and myself accompanied by my grandson Nathan Jnr who was dressed up as Kylo Ren (Darth Vader's grandson - ironic). After the competition we received our prizes, sat with our friends for a while then returned to the boat as we didn't want to leave Ruby on her own for too long and then went to bed after a most enjoyable day.

Ange and me in fancy dress (check out my light sabre!)

Sunday proved to be another hot, sunny day and in the morning I did a couple of jobs on the boat before we made our way to the rally site. We spent the afternoon chatting to friends both old and new and I went for a walk to take photographs of the remnants of the Big Pool... a lake that was once connected to the Bridgewater Canal via the Sprinch Arm located just after Runcorn BMBC's Clubhouse.

The location of The Big Pool...

...and all that remains of it today

After tea we spent another enjoyable evening in the marquee and afterwards returned to the boat with our temporary guest... Nathan. The next morning we were due to return to Lymm. After breakfast we went to the rally site to say our farewells before making our way home in yet more beautiful sunshine. On the way back we made a quick stop at Midland Chandlers for a couple of clips to hold the new occasional table Desmo leg and at Thorn Marine, Stockton Heath for ice creams before carrying on to our moorings and home. I can honestly say that this is one of the best FBCC Rallies we have been to (after Lymm CC's of course) helped, no doubt by the wonderful weather and judging by the comments from everyone we have spoken to and those made on social media it was also enjoyed by many others. Well done BMBC!

BMBC's Clubhouse during the 2016 FBCC Rally

I was off  work for the rest of the week as it was half-term and I planned to go up to Lymm later on in the week to cut the grass on our moorings, do a couple of jobs and clean the boat. After seeing the weather forecast for the rest of the week I decided to go up on the Tuesday before the weather took a turn for the worst (which it didn't). Once up at the mooring I spent the morning cutting the grass and clearing the weeds from the steps leading down to our jetty as well as the coping stones on the side of the canal. The afternoon was spent installing the wiring for our new solar panel which was to be fitted later on plus a couple of other odd jobs (ably assisted by Ruby) before cleaning the inside of the boat and heading for home exhausted.

Our mooring with the steps cleared and the grass cut

The following day my daughter Lisa and son-in-law Nathan's boat Adeline (as mentioned in Easter Escape) was due to be launched at Wincham Wharf and taken to Runcorn BMBC where it was to be slipped for a couple of weeks whilst they rubbed-down the hull and painted it with two-pack polyurethane. Then it is to be taken to their new mooring at Top Locks next to Waterloo Bridge also at Runcorn whilst the refitting is completed. I would have liked to have been there to document the launching photographically but I had a mountain of jobs to do at home. At Lunchtime I received a message to say that the boat had been successfully launched and that they would soon be making their way to Runcorn being towed by Barbara and Paul's boat Jusromin. It was being towed because the engine had not been overhauled yet and they did not want to risk damaging it. Another boat in the family! We look forward to when it is finished and we can cruise together.

Adeline just after launching at Wincham Wharf

That weekend we had to go to Liverpool shopping and it just happened to co-incide with the International Mersey River Festival and the Northern Boat Show. We had arranged to meet up with our friends Wendy and Paul Savage and their family who were visiting the Festival as well. There were many attractions including a demonstration of Fly-boarding. This is where a brave soul (Jay StJohn) balances on a board and lifted into the air by water jets generated from a pipe connected to a jetski. We had seen this performed on the Gadget Show but this was the first time we had seen it in real life... most impressive!

A demonstration of fly-boarding

The narrowboats that are normally moored in Salthouse Dock were temporarily relocated to the Albert Dock and amongst them were many boats that we recognised including friends from Lymm, Runcorn BMBC and Broken Cross Boat Clubs some of whom had braved the Mersey and crossed over to Liverpool after travelling down the Manchester Ship Canal. The weather was as it had been for most of the previous week and needless to say the Leica got a good airing.

Just a few of the narrowboats moored in the Albert Dock

Before heading for home we visited some of the canal-related exhibits that were part of the Northern Boat Show but managed to walk away with our wallets intact! Next time we visit the Albert Dock we hope that it will be on our own boats... can't wait!

Flags on narrowboats moored in the Albert Dock

The following weekend Ange was going for a "pamper weekend" at the Lion Quays Waterside Resort on the banks of the Llangollen Canal near Chirk (where the A5 crosses the canal at Morton Bridge - 17 West) with her son Michael. Long-standing members of Lymm CC will remember this location as the place where Bill Edsbury's girl fiend at the time made him moor his narrowboat... Mister Ed here whilst on the summer cruise to Llangollen and get her a room in the hotel so that she could watch Wimbledon tennis finals because Bill couldn't get a TV signal on the boat! I also remember this place from when I was a child as there was a garage opposite that we usually stopped at to buy petrol/oil mixture (fifty to one ratio) for the Stuart Turner engines that powered our hire boats. There was a landing stage next to the linear moorings here that allowed access to the garage forecourt. I can remember one of the boats was a varnished centre cockpit cruiser called Acorn which was similar to a Taylor boat that was moored here for many years but today there are no traces of the moorings that once lined the canal at this location.

View of the Llangollen Canal and moorings from Ange's room

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Consequently, Ruby and I went up to Lymm on our own on the Sunday to do a couple of jobs. These jobs included trying the trimmed Desmo leg and table in the aft cabin (fitted perfectly) and connecting the new 12 volt electrical feed to the stereo, aerial booster and sockets plus tidying up the electrical wiring in the lounge. I had also planned to do some of the wiring for the solar panel but it started to rain rain and Ruby rolling in something really smelly cut short the visit. Even so I accomplished the jobs that I set out to do. Needless to say when we arrived home Ruby went straight into the shower and afterwards smelt a lot better than she did beforehand!

The aft cabin with the new table in place

One humorous happening in the week following was whilst talking to Ian Fogarty... a work colleague asked how "Bargey McBargeface" was doing. Ian always refers to our boat as a barge (even though he does know better) just to wind me up! The name he was using is a pun from the arctic exploration vessel soon to be built at Cammell Lairds shipyard in Birkenhead. There was a nation-wide on-line poll requesting name suggestions for the vessel with "Boaty McBoatface" being the overall winner of the poll. However, the builders, in their infinite wisdom settled for RRS Sir Richard Attenborough as it is more in keeping with the nature of the vessel. But "Boaty McBoatface" is not dead as one of the remotely operated submarines is going to be christened with this name.

RRS Sir Richard Attenborough (aka Boaty McBoatface)

(Image -

With having so much currently going on during the weekends at home recently (decorating, etc.) I have found it difficult to find time to go up to Lymm at weekends to complete jobs on the boat in preparation for our summer cruise without taking time off work. This I did the last Tuesday in June when Ruby and I travelled up to Lymm with a big job list. I had electrical cables to install in the engine compartment for the solar panel, a faulty bolt to replace on one of the front doors, an electrical socket back box to replace, new USB charging sockets to fit and connect in the lounge cabinet beneath the TV/Blueray player, brass corner protectors to fit to the rear doors and sliding hatch plinth and finally connect a redundant electrical cable to the un-isolated electrical feed that powers the bilge pump and central heating programmer to allow the stereo to maintain its memory when the power is switched off when we leave the boat. Guess what... Ruby and I completed them all before the rain that was forecast began to fall and we headed for home having accomplished all we set out to do.

Whilst we are cruising through locks or with another boat we often use walkie-talkie two-way radios for directing when passing through locks or to advise of on-coming boats, especially at blind bends and bridges. One problem we have with the walkie-talkies is that it is not always possible to hear the transmitted message whilst steering above the engine (quiet though it is). On solution would be to install a CB radio that uses the same frequencies as the walkie-talkies. Whilst talking about this subject to Arthur Malcolm... a friend at Lymm CC who is into radio communications, he mentioned that he had a CB radio and mag-mount antenna that was surplus to requirements and that I could purchase it from him. This we did and the radio (a Team TS) which is one of the smallest and neatest examples I have seen, was installed in the electrical cupboard (along with an SWR meter for matching the antenna) with the microphone and extension speaker being on the back deck for ease of use. The antenna is of the magnetic mount variety and, to protect the paintwork on the roof a suitably sized piece of waterproof material is placed between the mag-mount and the roof surface. We are now looking forward to using this unit on our Summer Cruise to Liverpool when it will, no doubt, be put to good use.

The Team TS CB Radio we have fitted to the boat

I receive emails and queries from canal and inland waterway enthusiasts all over the world regarding the Canalscape website... Australia, United States, India, Russia, New Zealand to name but a few but one country that I have not had communications from is China. I do not know if this is due to the "Great Firewall of China" which blocks Internet access to that country or if the residents are just not interested in the subjects covered by the website. When my friend Paul Savage told me that he was having to go there on business he told me that he would try to keep abreast of happenings on the Bridgewater Canal by logging onto the Canalscape website. He told me that if he was successful in accessing the website from China he would let me know if it was accessible from there. When Paul had reached Shanghai he sent a message and photograph of his laptop logged onto Canalscape with the view from his hotel room in the background via Facebook proving that Canalscape had in fact breached the "Great Firewall of China" and is included below.

Canalscape in Shanghai on Paul Savage's laptop with the view from his hotel room in the background

(Photograph - Paul Savage)

This was the weekend of Ange's birthday and we went up to Lymm with Shannon for the day. Once on the boat cruised up to Agden where we borrowed nb Starlight's mooring for the night. We had a chill-out afternoon before going to the Wheatsheaf just up the road for an enjoyable meal with Alan and Lyn Savage. The next morning we headed back to our moorings and took an inventory of our cupboards in preparation for the Summer Cruise to Liverpool in a couple of weeks time.

The Bridgewater Canal near Agden

Readers may remember that I dressed up as Darth Vader at the FBCC Rally at Runcorn. The costume that I wore was my own as I am a confirmed Star Wars enthusiast. One of my Christmas presents from Ange was a visit to the Star Wars Celebration being held at the Excel Exhibition Centre in London's Docklands. Whilst attending the celebration I did not expect there to be any connections to subjects covered in the Canalscape or Diarama Websites... how wrong can one be? The journey down to London was on board a Virgin Trains Pendolino. Historically I like to watch out for canals and waterways flashing past the train windows but on a Pendolino this is extremely difficult due to the speed of the train (it is even impossible to read the station names as one passes through) and I can liken it to the Westlife song... "Flying Without Wings". Liverpool to London in under two hours... spectacular!

I will not bore non-Star Wars enthusiasts with too many photographs taken at the Star Wars Celebration (which was absolutely wonderful) but I have to say that it was an eye-opener. There were enthusiasts visiting from all over the world... Australia, Japan, the USA to name but a few. I thought that I was a Star Wars nut but many take things to the extreme dressing up as their favourite characters such as Stormtroopers, Jedi Knights, Younglings, etc, and spending thousands of pounds refining their costumes (eg: £2000 for a replica Darth Vader helmet that doesn't even have the voice-changer unit in it). Not many people can say that they have shared a lift with a Jedi Master or seen Princess Leia shopping though!

Not the "real" Darth Maul but an enthusiast dressed up as the Sith villain (there are always two!)

"Princess Leia" shopping at the Star Wars Celebration at the Excel Exhibition Centre

Yours truly and a Stormtrooper (Yes... I did think he was a little short to be one!)

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Next to the Excel Exhibition Centre is the Royal Victoria Dock. Spanning this dock is the Royal Victoria Footbridge. This bridge, opened in 1997, was originally planned to be a transporter bridge but the transporter feature was never completed even though the gondola track is present. The deck of the footbridge is high above the dock and accessed by flights of stairs or by a lift. Needless to say I made an excursion to the bridge, crossed the dock on it and took many photographs of it. Details of this bridge can be seen in "Flying Bridges"... the History of Transporter Bridges section of the Diarama Website.

The Royal Victoria Footbridge with the Excel Exhibition Centre in the background

Close to our hotel is the Thames Barrier and, whilst having a break from the celebration, I went for a walk along the banks of the River Thames to see this iconic structure. The Thames Barrier is featured in "The Big Ditch - Manchester's Ship Canal"  section of this website. A couple of hundred metres downstream from the Barrier is another, lesser known icon... the ex-Wallasey Ferries ferry boat "Royal Iris". Lying on a tidal berth this once beautiful vessel is rotting away and I suspect may soon end its days in the breaker's yard. It first came into the River Mersey in 1951... the year I was born, and I remember it in its heyday when it ferried me, along with hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of commuters across the River Mersey from Wallasey to Liverpool. It is a shame that funds cannot be raised to return this vessel to its rightful home where it would make a wonderful addition to the Maritime Museum for housing the history of the Mersey Ferries. The vessel's history and how it ended up on the River Thames is covered in the section of the Diarama Website dedicated to the Mersey Ferries.

The magnificent Thames Barrier

A neglected maritime icon - the Royal Iris at Woolwich

On the Sunday it was time for us to leave for home. As we had a bit of time on our hands before catching the Pendolino back home we caught the driverless Docklands Light Railway to Canary Wharf... part of London neither Ange or I had visited before. We admired the architecture , took some photographs (see the Diarama Photograph Gallery) then went underground to the subterranean station that was used as one of the locations in the up-coming Star Wars movie - "Rogue One". The London Underground then whisked us to Westminster where we planned to look at Big Ben (not the bell), the Houses of Parliament and have a walk along the Thames Embankment. A lady stopped us and gave us two all-day tickets for a river sightseeing trip which we accepted gratefully. The resulting trip took us as far downstream as Tower Bridge then back to Westminster Pier after an enjoyable excursion we had not expected. The London Underground then returned us to Euston to catch the Pendolino home after a different but really enjoyable weekend break in London. Next time we come we want to visit the capital by narrowboat though!

The Tuesday and Wednesday after the Star Wars Celebration weekend I planned to spend on the boat putting the finishing touches to it before our Summer Cruise to Liverpool. We had been offered Arthur Malcolm's mooring at Agden which would be more convenient than our jetty mooring whilst working on the boat. Ruby and I arrived at Lymm (Ange was at work) early on what was to be the hottest day of the year so far. My first task was to cut the grass and remove the weeds on our mooring. With this done I then took the boat to the Clubhouse to fill the fresh water tank and load the Kärcher, tools, food, etc. I had brought with me onto the boat. With these tasks completed and the boat loaded up we left the car at Lymm and cruised up the canal to Agden in absolutely glorious weather... 30˚ centigrade at its hottest!

After arriving at Agden I had lunch then started on my list of jobs. Top of the list was to fit the solar panel to the aft sliding hatch. The panel was placed on the hatch and the outline of the panel marked out. As I was working on my own (except for Ruby passing me the tools) I had a plan to make it easier to accomplish and negate having to lift the hatch off the boat with the panel attached single handedly. With the marking out completed the panel and the hatch were removed. The mounting holes in the hatch were drilled and the hatch put back in place. The panel was again mounted and the first hole in the panel drilled from beneath with a smaller drill bit through the previously drilled hole in the hatch. After checking the position the first self-tapping screw was screwed in place and the process repeated for the remainder of the holes and screws. It was at this time that I questioned the wisdom of accomplishing a task such as this outside on the hottest day of the year so far.

The solar panel in place

The electrical cable folds beneath the sliding hatch when it is open

After having a rest and a drink I decided to continue with this job later so I retired to the relative coolness of the inside of the boat. I next fitted the CB radio transceiver and 12 volt power sockets which brought me nicely up to teatime. By the time I had given Ruby her walk and we had both finished our evening meals it had cooled down sufficiently for me to continue with the electrical wiring of the solar panel. To do this the cable from the panel was threaded through the nearest mushroom ventilator and after removing the centre section of the boat's ceiling the cable was threaded through the ceiling. As the lighting cables pass through conduit that did not have sufficient room to accommodate additional cables I coiled the end of the panel cable to continue at a later time. I came to the conclusion that I would have to find a different route to feed the cable to the electrical cupboard and the current/voltage regulator. The new route will most probably require drilling a new hole through the ceiling batons and electrical cupboard bulkhead. With the day drawing to a close I relaxed on the rear deck with an ice cold Kopparberg cider in my hand, Ruby by my side and watched the sun go down before retiring to bed.

CB radio transceiver and 12 volt/USB electrical sockets in the electrical cupboard

Sunset at Agden on the hottest day of the year so far

We were awoken next morning by a torrential downpour of rain but by the time to get up the rain had stopped and the sun was shining. After walking Ruby and having our respective breakfasts it was down to work again. The ceiling panel was put back in place with the cable coiled up, the CB radio antennal was fitted and the transceiver tried out. It worked perfectly. I had brought the Kärcher power washer up with me to clean the roof initially as the non-slip coating is difficult to clean any other way. I was a little reluctant to start cleaning the boat in brilliant sunshine and as time was cracking on I decided to clean the roof at the weekend when we planned to bring up some clothes and non-perishable food. As midday approached we walked to Lymm to bring the car back to Agden. After locking up the boat and leaving the moorings Ruby and I walked down Agden Lane, under the canal at Agden Underbridge then along the towpath to Oughtrington. Needless to say I had brought a camera with me and took the opportunity to take some photographs of locations from viewpoints not normally seen when cruising past on the boat.

Inside Agden Underbridge

Grantham's Bridge next to Spud Wood

At Oughtrington we left the towpath, crossed Lloyd Bridge and joined the bridal path that runs alongside Lymm CC's Oughtrington moorings, past Oughtrington Woods and leads to Lymm. The path had quite a few muddy patches and Ruby delighted in running through them. No doubt a good way to cool down hot little paws!

A tranquil mooring at Oughtrington Woods

Ruby enjoying herself in the mud down Oughtrington Bridle Path

With the car retrieved from the club yard we drove to Agden and had lunch. Whilst sitting on the foredeck eating lunch we were treated to an unusual sight in the shape of a Taylor mahogany canal cruiser... Lady Avon passing. The varnished mahogany woodwork looked stunning in the summer sunshine. The last time I had heard of this boat was on Taylor's Wooden Boats website which informs that the boat was up for sale at Peter Freebody's Boat Yard at Hurley, Berkshire on the River Thames. After lunch I tidied the storage area that I use for tools etc. (the really important items that Ange calls "junk") Anything that would not be required on holiday was put in the car as was the substantial packaging from the solar panel. Next the boat interior was cleaned from one end to the other (despite muddy paws) and we reluctantly headed for home in brilliant sunshine after a good couple of days both weather and job-wise.

Taylor mahogany cruiser Lady Avon

The following weekend after buying food and packing other items for the holiday cruise we headed to Agden in bright sunny weather. On arrival we had lunch then Ange started packing the food and other holiday items away whilst I started to power-washed the roof. I had planned to do this when I was up earlier in the week but the very hot weather prevented such an activity. The Kärcher removed the dirt and grime that had accumulated in the non-slip finish on the roof far more efficiently than any other method. I was about to start washing and waxing the sides of the boat when rain stopped play! The rain was only a shower and after a quick drink I soon was continuing with my tasks. Afterwards, we went out for tea with Jack and Glenys Kershaw and on our return sat outside chatting in the lovely evening sunshine. Ruby found a new friend in the shape of Fudge from nb Miss Behavin' which is moored further up the Agden moorings. The two dogs ran for over an hour playing chase me!

Ruby playing with Fudge

The following morning after breakfast we had a cuppa with Lyn and Alan Savage then I started to wash the boat with the Kärcher and then polish the sides of the boat but again rain stopped play for a while. After lunch I finished polishing one side and all too soon it was time to pack up our things and put the boat to bed after a really productive weekend. If we were on our jetty mooring at Lymm I do not think that we would have been able to accomplish as much and I do not think that Ruby would have enjoyed herself as much either. Just as we were leaving the moorings Wendy and Oliver Savage arrived (Paul was still in China). We had a chat to them comparing holiday cruise preparations then headed for home hoping that on our forthcoming cruise we would be blessed with good weather as much as we had been during the last couple of weeks.

The following week was spent making final preparations for the holiday cruise such as taking Ruby to the dog groomer to have her holiday haircut and doing shopping for the holiday. On the Thursday prior to the holiday I had a day's holiday to use up so I went up to the boat with Ruby to take up some of the clothes, dog food, etc. The weather started off fine then showers were intermittent and in-between showers I turned the boat around and power washed it. As I finished the sun came out  right on cue to help dry off the paintwork allowing me to polish it with Mer wax polish. With this completed and the items that I brought up put away the Kärcher car was packed into the car along with some other items that we were not taking on holiday and headed for home along a very wet M56 motorway.

A shiny Squirrel at Agden ready for our holiday cruise to Liverpool

After we returned from our Summer Cruise to Liverpool - "Scouse Saunter" we had a week to recover (and catch-up with the washing) then we were on the boat again for the August Bank Holiday weekend. Historically, Lymm CC usually have a cruise to Salford Quays via Pomona Lock and the River Irwell. This years though the cruise was changed to Sale Cruising Club's Open Day due to damage at the mooring we usually use at Salford Quays plus a build-up of rubbish. We did not fancy going to Sale (along with quite a few others in the Club) so we decided to have a weekend in Manchester instead. Ange had booked the Friday afternoon off work and I finish work at lunchtime anyway so after a quick cuppa we loaded the car up with our clothes, etc. and made our way to Lymm stopping at our local M & S for food shopping on the way. We set off up the M56 and once at Lymm loaded our stuff onto the boat and were cruising in the hot afternoon sun by 4.00pm. We had arranged to meet Wendy and Paul but they were late reaching their boat and promised to keep a space for them at Castlefield. We arrived at Castlefield early evening and the first thing we saw was the classic mahogany Taylor cruiser that passed our mooring a few weeks previously. As we cruised along Castle Quay the sun was setting and there was only one space available (a few inconsiderate moorers kept about five metres space front and back between themselves and adjacent boats) so we grabbed it and when Paul arrived he moored alongside us.

Castlefield at sunset

After chatting with the boat in front we discovered that they would be leaving the next morning which would free-up a space for Paul. There were a couple of other boats at Castlefield from Lymm CC who also did not want to go to Sale CC's Open Weekend and one of them was Miss Behavin' owned by Beryl and Colin Wills. Their dog... Fudge is one of Ruby's friends and they played chase-me for quite a while before they had tired themselves out.

Nocturnal Castle Quay from our mooring

We usually go to Bury Market by tram when we are at Castlefield but dogs are not allowed on the tram (not even well behaved Cavalier King Charles Spaniels) so we went by bus instead. We left the boat early and as it was the day of the Gay Pride Parade a lot of roads were blocked off necessitating a walk to the bus stop in the middle of the city. Before long we were travelling through the outskirts of Bury. We walked around the market but didn't buy much. Ruby bought a couple of rice bones from the pet stall with her pocket money so she was quite happy with her purchases!

Ruby checking out the goods at the pet stall in Bury Market

Bury is the home of the black pudding and no visit would be complete without looking at Chadwick's Black Pudding Stall. They sell various types of black pudding... white pudding, fat-free, etc. After I had tried a couple of samples Ange took a photograph of me at their stall... is she trying to tell me something?

Is there a message here?

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

We had lunch at a café in the market and had another quick look around before heading back to the boat. Back in Manchester we walked from the bus stop along Deansgate and Paul showed us one of Manchester's hidden gems... Barton Arcade. This Victorian shopping arcade runs between St Anne's Square and Deansgate. This cast iron and glass masterpiece was constructed in 1871 and houses twelve shops on the ground floor with offices and showrooms on the three floors above. The delicacy of the tracery in the cast iron framework has to be seen to be believed. Nearby is another arcade... St Anne's Arcade, which is of a similar design. It is also home to one of my favourite shops in the world... Stephen's Leica Store but unfortunately we did not have time for me to indulge myself on this occasion. Maybe next time! After this little excursion we resumed our return trip to the boat after a most enjoyable afternoon out. We had tea on board then the table and chairs came out and we sat people watching and chatting over a drink. Beryl and Colin had visitors that had joined them the and we were looking forward to meeting them.

Inside Barton Arcade - one of Manchester's hidden gems

On Sunday we had a lie-in then Paul and I went around the Museum of Science and Industry whilst Ange and Wendy chilled out reading their respective books. After lunch I gave Paul and Wendy a re-run of my Castlefield Heritage Walk which they enjoyed. Whilst looking at Grocer's Warehouse Paul was puzzled about two gated brick arches about a metre behind which is the original sandstone cliff. The purpose of these arches is unknown as there is not a great deal of space behind them... just enough for a person to squeeze through.

Grocer's Warehouse in 1985 - the arch in question is the third one on the right

I have looked at my archive photographs of the site taken prior to restoration and, although present, their function is not clear. Research into them has not shed any light either. If you would like to know more about the Castlefield area follow this link... Castlefield Heritage Walk. We had booked a table for eight of us at The Wharf for our evening meal and we later enjoyed a beautiful meal in good company. Whilst at the Wharf we looked at the pictures and photographs on the walls (some of which are mine).

Our gang in The Wharf

When we returned to the boats the chairs and table came out again and we put the world to rights over drinks and apple pie and custard courtesy of Wendy. The beautifully clear sky gave me the opportunity to take some nocturnal photographs... some of which I have included here and also in the Canalscape Gallery.

Having a drink on the towpath at Castle Quay

A nocturnal photograph of Grocer's Footbridge

Miss Behavin' at Castle Quay with Beetham Tower in the background...

...and a modified version of the same photograph

After breakfast on Monday morning we left Manchester to make our way to Lymm. On the way we stopped at Stretford Marine to empty the loos. Lunch was eaten on the go and once back at Lymm I filled the water tank whilst we packed the car. This was most probably the last weekend for good weather so we were glad that we made the most of it.

View from the tiller at Sale on a sunny Bank Holiday Monday afternoon

The following weekend was the Lymm CC President's Cheese and Wine Cruise to Dunham Massey. Even though we had a busy Sunday planned we went up to Lymm on a drizzly Saturday afternoon and set off for Dunham Massey. The destination for the cruise was adjacent to the Obelisk at Dunham Massey. The cruise up to it was pleasant if not wet. The drizzle gave way to rain and I was soaked by the time we arrived there. After mooring the boat a change of clothes was required. Later in the afternoon the rain ceased and the sun came out... albeit briefly but long enough to take the photograph below which I later discovered was used by Granada TV as a weather photograph.

A moody sky at Dunham Massey

(As used by Granada TV for a weather photograph)

Around the brazier as dusk falls

After tea we took our chairs down to the gazebo that had been erected and sat around the brazier fuelled with wood brought up by boat. We chatted to our fellow Lymm CC members and enjoyed the friendly atmosphere fuelled by the cheese and wine. Next morning we returned to Lymm early as Ange had a busy afternoon with family commitments planned. It was not raining even though the sun was not shining and whilst passing Lymm CC's Oughtrington moorings a kingfisher flew past. As usual I was not able to capture it with the camera. Had I not been steering at the time and had the Leica V-Lux with its fast shutter speed and long zoom range at the ready instead of the C-Lux I might have had a chance of taking a photograph of it. We were back on our mooring by 10.00am, loaded the car up and made our way home after a pleasant, if not short, weekend cruise.

The following week Granada Television used another of my photographs as a weather photograph. The photograph was of Liverpool's Pier Head at dusk taken from Egremont Ferry in Wallasey and is reproduced below for your perusal.

A screenshot of the Granada Weather Forecast showing my photograph of Liverpool's Pier Head at Dusk...

...and the original photograph itself

That weekend was the Lymm CC cruise to Moore. We arrived at our moorings lunchtime on Saturday and before we set off I had to cut the grass on our moorings. Once this was done we cruised to Moore in brilliant, warm sunshine. We arranged to cruise with nb Adreva and Paul, his brother and children had lunch at the Clubhouse whilst I finished my jobs and then we were off. This would most probably be the last weekend that we would have good weather before the onset of autumn and we were determined to make the most of it!

Leaving Lymm in the beautiful sunshine

nb Squirrel at Moore

Hay bales in the adjacent field at Moore

Once at Moore the chairs came out and we enjoyed a couple of hours chatting with our friends. I disappeared with Ruby and the Leica for a bit to take photographs in the sunshine. On our return Ruby was getting onto the boat and, unbeknown to us the mooring ropes had slackened off. Ruby then went for an unscheduled swim but was rescued from the canal by Sue Burden who was at the right place at the right time... thanks Sue. Few boaters are aware of the Anderson Air Raid Shelter that is hidden in the trees at Moore. I gave an impromptu tour to a couple of members that had not seen it before. During World War Two the Bridgewater Canal's lengthsman for this section of the canal would monitor the water level in case one of the Luftwaffe's bombs scored a direct hit on the canal. During an air raid the lengthsman would take refuge in this shelter but could still see the canal and drop the stop boards in place should the worst happen. The shelter is looking the worst for wear now and I do not think that it will last for much longer. Just as well that someone has photographed it for prosperity!

The Anderson Air Raid Shelter at Moore

That evening it was the illuminated boats competition and we strung fairy lights along the length of the boat to enter into the spirit of the competition. Our efforts paled into insignificance when the displays of some boats are seen, We had an early night and made an early start the next morning when we cruised back to Lymm in more sunshine.

nb Squirrel illuminated in the moonlight

We had our breakfast on the move made a quick stop at Thorn Marine, Stockton Heath before carrying on to Lymm. Once there we loaded up the car and I put the boat on its mooring then headed for home. That afternoon, once home, the skies clouded over and we had seen the best of the weekend weather whilst on the boat for a change!

Narrowboats moored in the sunshine at Stockton Heath

The River Mersey has a wealth of historic vessels moored along its length. With living close to the river I often have the opportunity to see some of these vessels as they ply the waters of this mighty river. One such vessel is the ex-Manchester Ship Canal tug Daniel Adamson. Whilst on my way home from work I saw the unmistakeable profile of the "Danny" as it is affectionately known passing Seacombe Ferry. It was the first time I had seen the Danny sailing up the river and captured the moment on my mobile phone's camera.

The ex-Manchester Ship Canal tug Daniel Adamson on the River Mersey

I suspect that it was making its way to the Acton Bridge Steam Fair to be held over the weekend of the 5th and 6th October via the River Mersey, Manchester Ship Canal and River Weaver. It will be on display at the Ellesmere Port At Acton Bridge it will be joined by many other steam powered exhibits including the recently restored 1913 steam tug Kerne.

The 1912 steam tug Kerne on the Manchester Ship Canal

(Photograph -

Another event related to the River Mersey was the arrival on the 6th October of the Zhen Hua 8 at the new Seaforth Deepwater Container Terminal. This heavy lift vessel had transported another consignment of six container gantry cranes from Shanghai in China to the nearly completed container terminal at Seaforth. This takes the total number of these cranes to twelve. With all the cranes delivered the terminal was complete and due to open for business within the next month.

The Zhen Hua 8 heavy lift vessel with the latest delivery of gantry cranes from Shanghai

A fortnight afterwards it was the Lymm CC cruise to Dunham Village. We had to take Ruby to the vet on the way to Lymm as she had got sand in one of her eyes the previous day whilst frolicking in the sand dunes at Leasowe Bay. After having cornea repair gel and drops prescribed she was given a "cone of shame" to wear to prevent her from scratching her eye.

Ruby wearing the "cone of shame" after getting sand in her eye

Needless to say she wasn't very impressed by this! Once on the boat we met our friends Paul and Wendy Savage at Agden. They had a canine friend with them in the shape of a cocker spaniel. Ruby got on well with him but she was not at her best and fell in whilst jumping on the boat. We caught-up with our friends' news and retired to the boat for dinner and a chill-out. The next morning dawned bright and dry but after breakfast it started to rain just in time for when we were setting off for Lymm. The waterproofs were donned and we set off in the rain.

Leaving Dunham Village in the rain

By the time we reached Little Bollington the rain had stopped and it had brightened up

By the time we had reached Little Bollington the rain had stopped and the sun was threatening to come out. At Oughtrington the sun came out and accompanied us for the rest of the trip to Lymm. We picked-up a hitch hiker at Oughtrington... fellow Lymm CC member Les Dell off nb Sulis who was going to the Clubhouse to retrieve his car. Once at Lymm we pulled into the arm, dropped off our guest and loaded the car before putting the boat back on its mooring and heading for home.

Oughtrington Wharf in the autumn sunshine

Autumn leaves floating on the canal at our moorings

The 2016 cruising season is now coming to an end and there was only the Closing Cruise left in Lymm CC's cruising programme. Unfortunately we were not able to attend the due to being busy decorating at home. There was, however, the Bonfire Party to be held at the Agden moorings on the 5th November to look forward to. We arrived at Lymm on the Friday evening as Ange and Shannon were going on an organised visit to a guide dog training school organised by Lymm CC member Sue Burden. The minibus was picking them and the other members going on the visit up at 08.30 on the Saturday morning so we all had to be up early... hence we stayed on the boat overnight.

Lymm CC members ready for the trip to a guide dog training school

On their return we took Wendy and Libby Savage up to Agden where we had arranged to moor alongside Paul's boat. The bonfire was lit after tea and we left Ruby on the boat with the stereo turned up to mask any firework explosions. With the bonfire and hot-pot stall in full swing it wasn't long before the fireworks were being set off by Mike and Phil Savage. Ange and Shannon handed out sweets to the children at the bonfire whilst the adults had to make do with Parkin cake (yukk!).

The Agden bonfire in full-swing

Fireworks at Agden

When they were over we retired to the boat and after Ruby had her last walk we went to bed. The following morning we bade farewell to our friends and after turning the boat around against the wind we made our way back to Lymm in the autumn sunshine.

Autumn berries at Agden

Autumn tints on the way back to Lymm

Fellow anoraks will be familiar with the exploits of Guy Martin... motor cycle racer, speed freak and excitement junkie. Guy first came to my attention when he bought and fitted a narrowboat for a TV series entitled "The Boat that Guy Built" and has since graced our TV screens in a couple of TV series where he performed speed-oriented tasks. In his latest series... "Our Guy in China" he explores China from an anorak's point of view. The first episode in the series is the one that will be most interesting to canal and inland waterway enthusiasts where he travelled to the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River. Here we were treated to a trip on the World's largest boat lift... a giant version of the Anderton Boat Lift completed in December 2015. This giant boat lift can accommodate craft up to 119 mtrs (390 ft) in length by 27·5 mtrs (90 ft) beam and lift them 113 mtrs (370 ft) over the dam in forty minutes... a significant time saving over the adjacent five-step staircase locks, passage of which takes up to four hours. After seeing this engineering masterpiece I could not let it go without sharing the enormity of the lift with Canalscape readers. Below are a couple of photographs of the lift courtesy of the New China and Shanghai Times websites.

The Three Gorges Dam Boat Lift

(Photograph - New China)

The interior of the 113 mtr (370 ft) boat lift makes the Anderton Boat Lift look like a toy

(Photograph - Shanghai Times)

We couldn't go up to the boat for a couple of weeks after the Bonfire Party due to decorating the lounge and fitting new wardrobe interiors and sliding doors in our bedroom but at the end of November I made a mid-week journey up after work to fit the front and rear deck canopies, empty the water tank, check the engine water level and antifreeze specific gravity with a special antifreeze hydrometer. The covers went on well but the rear canopy didn't fit over the rear hatch as well as it used due to the solar panel (which was still charging whilst I was there) adding to the height of the sliding hatch but longer "bungee" straps should cure the problem. The engine's cooling system took some antifreeze and the engine was started and ran for a while to circulate it. The remainder was added to the central heating header tank. I brought back a few items of tinned food that were nearing their sell-by date as well as some tools and other items that were required at home. With these jobs completed the boat was now winterised and signalled the end of our canal cruising year.

nb Squirrel with front and rear deck canopies in place ready for the onslaught of winter

Just before Christmas I accompanied my stepson Michael on an errand to Market Drayton, Shropshire in his beautiful five litre, supercharged V8 Range Rover Sport. As we sped along the A41 we passed many places that have canal connections... Chester, Nantwich, Grindley Book, Whitchurch, Audlem to name but a few. Needless to say a Leica or two came with me and on the way home a quick visit to Newcastle Road Bridge (number 62) gave me the opportunity to take a few photographs of one of my favourite locations on the canal network. I have included some of the photographs that I took below for the reader's perusal. The canal was still and unruffled and there were no signs of life at Talbot Wharf, once the home of "Holidays Afloat" in the 1960's and 1970's but someone had opened a lock somewhere (probably Tyrley Locks) as there was water moving beneath the bridge. As I stood on the bridge taking my photographs I remembered the first time I visited Market Drayton in 1960. Then there were only open fields opposite the moorings and a garage next to the bridge that possessed one of the old-style petrol pumps that required a handle to be turned to fill a glass reservoir prior to filling the motor car's fuel tank (or the boat's Jerry can). Many is the time we have asked for "two gallons of fifty to one" petrol/oil mixture! I also remembered the many happy hours spent here with my mother, father and brother when I was a child. Sadly... memories and old photographs are all I have of them now.

Looking south along the "Shroppie" from Newcastle Road Bridge (62) in Market Drayton

Looking north from the same location as the previous photograph

Talbot Wharf, Market Drayton... once the home of "Holidays Afloat"

The Saturday before Christmas we had arranged to have a meal  with some of our canal cruising friends. We travelled up to Lymm in the afternoon. On reaching the boat we turned on the central heating and relaxed until it was time to head to Elma's in Lymm Village. The meal was superb and we enjoyed it in good company as well. After the meal we returned to the boat and stayed overnight before heading home after breakfast the next day.

Enjoying good company and good food at Elma's Restaurant, Lymm

This was our last canal-related activity for 2016 but the next day I received an email from Amazon informing me of publications from their Reference Books Store that I might be interested in purchasing. I have shared a screenshot of the email below that regular readers might find as amusing as I did.

Screenshot of an amusing email that I received from Amazon

A couple of days after Christmas we were invited to our friends Wendy and Paul Savage house in Great Sankey. On arrival we had lunch then Paul and I went for a canal-themed walk. Paul had chosen Walton Lock as our destination so we all got in Paul's car, dropped Ange and Wendy off in Warrington then Paul, Ruby and I carried on to Walton Lock. This is where a connection is made between a navigable branch off the tidal River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. I had photographed the location in 1987 when the river was still in evidence and the lock could be seen from the  A5060 Chester Road Bridge. Over the years the river has silted up, houses built on the site of the timber yard next to the Ship Canal and the lock and surrounding area has become overgrown.

The branch off the Tidal River Mersey leading to Walton Lock in 1987

A closer view of the lock

The same view in 2016 - silted up and overgrown

When we arrived at Walton Lock we parked the car in a side road and walked to Manchester Road Bridge. There is a footpath that was originally the towpath of the waterway but is now part of the Trans-Pennine Trail. The river is now silted up and to reach the lock we had to negotiate undergrowth and dodge the dog poo (some more successfully than others!) but our perseverance was rewarded. The lock is equipped with double gates pointing inwards and outwards to accommodate the varying water levels and the gates were still in situ. Winding gear for opening the gates could also be seen. Paul tried the mechanism to see if it still operated but was well rusted and seized up.

Remains of the bottom gates of Walton Lock

Winding gear used to open the lock gates

Paul trying to operated the winding gear

Walton Lock upper gates

Above the lock is a basin that once had a sand berth and a wood yard. Housing now occupies part of the basin perimeter and little evidence of its former function remain. If ever the regulations regarding pleasure craft using the Ship Canal are relaxed this location would make an excellent marina but I do not think that will happen in the foreseeable future. But for now nature is gradually eradicating all evidence of what was an important connection to the Ship Canal in an area rich in remains of other waterways such as the Runcorn and Latchford Canal, Mersey and Irwell Navigation and, a little way up the Ship Canal... the entrance to the in-filled Black Bear Canal.

A panoramic view of Walton Lock Basin - the lock entrance is on the right hand side of the photograph

The entrance to Walton Lock Basin with the Manchester Ship Canal on the right

Walton Lock Basin entrance as seen from the Manchester Ship Canal

Ange and I ended 2016 at Lymm Cruising Club's New Year's Party in the company of some of our old friends from the Club. We enjoyed the nice relaxed atmosphere and the company of our friends, New Year's Day we all had a lie-inn before heading for home.

Ange and some of our friends at Lymm CC's New Year Party

Jean and Ken Powell on the dance floor at Lymm CC's New year Party

It has been an eventful year. We had cruised one of the newest stretches of canal in the country (another tick on the bucket list), taken a few photographs worthy of being added to my portfolio (and the Canalscape Gallery) and the weather had been reasonably kind to us as well. I have already made my "to do" list for the boat in the new year and we now look forward to 2017 and the pleasures that it has in store for us. To our friends, regular readers and new visitors to "Canalscape" alike may we wish you all an enjoyable year's cruising ahead. See you all on the cut!


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Chapter 2 - Easter Escape

We arrived at Lymm at lunchtime on Good Friday. As soon as we arrived I brought the boat to the area in front of Lymm CC's Clubhouse and we loaded our food, remainder of the clothes required plus our other items that would be needed for our week's Easter holiday cruise. We were to be accompanied by Paul and Wendy Savage with a new crew member in the shape of their niece Libby on their narrowboat "Adreva". We were hoping to reach Barbridge Junction on the Shropshire Union Canal (weather permitting). This is the limit that we can cruise on a Bridgewater Canal License before requiring a Canal and River Trust License.

Grappenhall Turn in the Spring sunshine

With the boat loaded up we set off in bright sunshine... it wasn't very warm but at least it wasn't raining! Ruby had outgrown her buoyancy aid so we stopped at Thorn Marine to purchase a new one plus a few other items that we required. We moored for the night just past Daresbury at one of our favourite moorings... nice and peaceful with a towpath that is not too muddy for Shannon, Libby and Ruby to play.

Ruby sporting her new buoyancy aid

The next morning was a little dull and at Preston Brook Tunnel we noticed that the free book cupboard had been restocked. This was to be the first trip through the tunnel with our new LED headlight which I had been eager to try out. It was just the ticket but the photograph below doesn't do it justice.

In the queue for Preston Brook Tunnel

The free book cupboard near Preston Brook Tunnel

Inside Preston Brook Tunnel showing the beam from our new LED headlight

We carried on along the River Weaver Valley accompanied by dark clouds which looked threatening with inevitable results. Canal and River Trust have now completed the work on the canal bank for boats waiting to pass through Saltersford Tunnel and we are looking forward to trying them. At Anderton we stopped for lunch and an impromptu Easter Bonnet Parade by Shannon and Libby before setting off again.

Libby and Shannon wearing their Easter bonnets

We noticed that the new Park Farm Marina at Northwich is now in water and has the first occupants moored there. The marina looks as though it can hold quite a few boats which will, no doubt, add to congestion at the tunnels.

The first boats in Park Farm Marina... just check-out the colour of the sky!

Just before the marina we saw flashes of lightning in the threateningly ominous sky which were followed shortly afterwards by a hail storm. Time to look for a mooring I think... and we found a convenient mooring just around the corner in Billinge Green Flash where we moored for the night. When the storm passed the sun came out and we were treated to a couple of rainbows one of which was almost horizontal... most unusual.

Rainbow at Billinge Green Flash

Next morning we set off in bright (but cold) sunshine. There were no boats moored at Bramble Cuttings so we stopped for a coffee and biscuits and to give everyone a chance to stretch their legs. This beautiful location is under threat from the proposed HS2 high-speed train line so we will have to make the most of it whilst it is still peaceful. Next stop was Middlewich so we moored above Big Lock adjacent to the swings before walking into the town for some shopping. Libby was due to be picked up here so we said goodbye to her and were soon on our way again making mincemeat of the locks and moored for the night above Stanthorne Lock. Another bright sunny morning followed and after breakfast we set off in the wintry sunshine along one of my favourite stretches of the canal passing through Church Minshull.

Bridge 22 on the Middlewich Branch of the "Shroppie"

At Church Minshull Lock I was surprised at the amount of detergent froth caused by the paddles. It was not as bad as in the 1960s when I can remember our hire boats on the Shropshire Union Canal near Autherley being engulfed completely by foam, especially when the centre paddles were raised (I christened them "soap-sudders") but it was enough to warrant a photograph. The rain we have experienced in recent weeks has most probably washed chemicals from the fields to cause this phenomenon.

Froth from the paddles in Church Minshull Lock

Moored above Church Minshull Lock

Coffee break at Church Minshull Lock

nb Lindsay entering Church Minshull Lock

We paused for a coffee and biscuits above the lock and were treated to ex-working narrowboat Lindsay returning from the Easter Narrowboat Gathering at the Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port. After our coffee break so did the weather... it started to rain but we pressed on to Barbridge where we made a brief (but muddy) stop at the water point before mooring just through Bridge 100. We all planned to be up early the following morning to catch the bus to Nantwich for essential shopping. With our shopping completed we had lunch in a dog-friendly pub... The Vine. We could not fault the food (steak pie to die for), quantities, prices and the hospitality given to us including Ruby who was given her own bowl of water and dog treats to boot!

Ange and Ruby in The Vine at Nantwich

We enjoyed our trip to Nantwich and returned to the boat... again courtesy of the Arriva Number 84 bus. Once again Ruby had proved herself to be a perfect little lady behaving well on the bus, around the shops (she was even allowed in a couple of them) and in the pub as well! Back on the boat after putting the shopping away we set off, made a brief stop at the water point to top-up the tank, the sanitary station to empty the loo ("There isn't one at Barbridge" I hear you say. Well there is... at Midway Boats!) and cruised back towards Middlewich. The sky was looking a bit dodgy again and before long the weather took a turn for the worse and it started to rain heavily.

Threatening sky at Cholmondeston

We had planned to moor at Bridge 22 but by the time we had reached Church Minshull we were drenched and cold so we decided to moor for the night at the moorings overlooking Winsford Top Flash. I was so cold and wet that I went straight into the shower to warm up. By the time we had eaten our evening meal the rain had stopped and we were treated to a beautiful sunset with mist rising over the River Weaver. Unfortunately it was not light enough (even for a Leica) to capture the mist but some of it can just be made out in the bottom of the photograph below.

Sunset over Winsford Top Flash

Bridge 12 at Church Minshull in bright sunshine the morning after the storm

My daughter Lisa and her husband Nathan had been desperate for a boat of their own and I received a call from her asking me about a boat... a Creighton Inlander 32, that they had seen on eBay. She asked if I would go and see the boat the following evening if they came and collected me. I told her that we would be at Middlewich the following day and we made arrangements to go to the boat yard next to the Narrowboat Company (formerly Harral's) the following evening. We set off after breakfast in the warm spring sunshine and before long we were at Middlewich. There were quite a few swans around and one of them accompanied Ange (who was steering the boat) into Wardle Lock.

A swan accompanying nb Squirrel into Wardle Lock...

Ange kept the boat away from the swan (avoiding the cill) and all was going well until it decided that it wanted to squeeze past the boat when the lock was half empty to be near its mate on the lock side. The paddles were dropped quickly and thanks to a brilliant piece of boatmanship (or should it be boatwomanship) by Ange there was just enough room for the swan to squeeze past unharmed even though some of its plumage was dirtied by the moss and algae on the side of the lock chamber. Once it was in the rear of the lock the paddles were raised again and the lock emptied.

...and after it had squeezed between the boat and the lock chamber wall unscathed

nb Squirrel entering the Trent & Mersey Canal at Middlewich

(At least the propeller didn't fall off this time!)

Ange and Shannon went into Middlewich with the crew from Adreva whilst Ruby and I did a couple of jobs on the boat including washing and polishing one side. On their return we went through Big Lock and moored just past the water point to await Lisa and Nathan who were taking Paul and I to inspect the boat they were hoping to purchase. Before long our visitors arrived and we went to Wincham Wharf to cast an eye over the boat they had seen. On our arrival we found the boat which was called Exodus II. It was out of the water on a trolley, covered in blue tarpaulin  and looking very sorry for itself.

Exodus II at Wincham Wharf

The Creighton Inlander 32 is one of my favourite GRP cruisers and I could remember seeing this particular boat a few years ago when it was in perfect condition. Our first task was to inspect the hull. There was no sign of osmosis but there were a few areas that required some filling but it looked worse than it actually was. I advised them that the hull below the water line be sanded down and painted with two-pack polyurethane paint... just in case! The boat was basically a shell with a relatively new Kubota three cylinder engine (shaft driven propeller and rudder... thankfully, not a stern drive version) that the owner told us was in good working order. I spoke to Lisa and Nathan telling them that they were undertaking a big job but they did not seem daunted by this, Nathan is very competent and not the kind of person to be out off by hard work. If they were to purchase it there would be a lot of work replacing distressed timber and fitting it out but at least they would be starting with a blank canvas and be able to fit it out to their own design. Lisa and Nathan took all my observations on board, decided that this was the boat for them and a price was negotiated. After half an hour they were the proud owners of a Creighton Inlander 32.

The front cabin of Exodus II in need of refurbishment

I know that my father and brother would be impressed. My brother Jim would be especially impressed by the name (which I think that they will change) that was the name of a cruiser that he designed in the early 1960s which was not too dissimilar to the Creighton. After the business had been conducted Paul and I were returned to Middlewich and on the journey back to our boats Lisa and Nathan's enthusiasm for the project shone through. I know that they will make a good job of this project and they plan to make the boat canal-worthy and either cruise it or have it towed to a mooring at Runcorn. We wish them well.

Nathan and Lisa in front of their new boat... Exodus II

We set off from Middlewich the next morning and had breakfast on the move. It was very pleasant if not cold. When we were passing Wincham Wharf all I could see was the blue tarpaulin that Exodus II was covered in, When I mentioned it to Paul he said the same as well! Exodus II... now renamed Adeline, has its own page on the Canalscape website which can be visited by following this link... Adeline.

 We had heard that the Lion Salt Works Museum had reopened and planned to visit it but on the outward journey we didn't have the time so on the homeward journey we made sure that we had time to visit it. Ange stayed on the boat whilst Shannon, Wendy, Paul and I went into the museum. We were not disappointed either. The original salt works has been converted into the museum and a brilliant job has been made of it as well.

The Lion Salt Works prior to closing in 1986

(Photograph - The Lion Salt Works Museum)

One of the original salt pans awaiting refurbishment

There are many artefacts on show as well as interactive displays to educate about the salt manufacturing processes used from Roman times (and before) to the present day. The original floor boards have been kept and made safe for small feet (and bigger ones). The salt pans were "staffed" by manikins and "heated" by a smoke machine normally used in the theatre. There is still work to be done at the museum and in time it will get better and better. We all learnt something from our visit and it is thoroughly recommended.

The "heated" salt pan display

After the museum visit we set off again, made a quick stop at Anderton then made for the tunnels. Barnton tunnel was clear and we sailed straight through but had to wait at Saltersford which gave us the chance to inspect the newly completed waiting moorings. Canal and River Trust have made an excellent job of them (no mud for little paws) and are to be commended for their efforts.

The excellent refurbished tunnel waiting moorings at Saltersford Tunnel

Whilst passing through the wooded cutting after Saltersford Tunnel the hillside was still covered in daffodils but the bluebells were trying to poke through as well.  Preston Brook Tunnel was next and after passing through we stopped at Midland Chandlers. It was their "Freaky Friday" 20% off day and there were a few items that I wanted. We had lost a fender, the loop had come off one of our mooring stakes and we needed automatic transmission fluid for the gearbox. They didn't have the same type of fender but the other items we purchased. Before setting off I topped up the gearbox. The only problem was that when unscrewing the filler/dipstick with a socket and wrench I banged my thumb just below the nail cuticle on an adjacent bracket. This was the second time that I had done it in as many days and the second time made my thumb hurt even more!

We were on our home waters now and moored for the night at Moore. After a quick wash and change of clothes we all (including Ruby) went to The Red Lion at Moore for tea. On the wall of the pub as well as some rather good old monochrome photographs of the Bridgewater and Manchester Ship Canals was a commemoration to Ken Thomas the Tramp aka The Old Man of Moore. Ken dropped out of society and slept in the Anderson Bomb Shelter  a little way down the canal towards Daresbury that I mentioned in the Duke's Cut section of Canalscape. But he could usually be found under a large umbrella on the bank of the canal at Moore until his death aged 73 in March 1984. He is remembered by older boaters on the Bridgewater Canal and was always willing to take the ropes when we were mooring close by. We always offered him a cup of tea and a chat  in return. I was given permission to reproduce the painting of Ken below and also the poem entitled "The Old Man of Moore" that was written about him by Mrs Marjory Pike; also of Moore.

Ken the Tramp's painting

(Reproduced by kind permission of P Burdell - The Red Lion at Moore)


The Old Man of Moore

Some things leave impressions in our minds for all of time,

On recalling they're so vivid like the pungency of wine,

Through the years I will remember the first time I ever saw,

The canal and boatman and the Old Man of Moore.


There he'd laze away the hours man and nature so at one,

Not for him the homely comforts, spurned they were, that life was done.

Large umbrella now his shelter, crooked arm his head to rest!

But to him he's found his haven like the bird high in its nest.


Children came each day to see him and the boatmen knew him well

As he fished beside the water, oh what stories he could tell!

Starry nights and frosty mornings, wind and rain and summer gone!

He would while away the hours lost in thought till day is done,

But I'm sure in times afar off telling tales of days of yore

I'll remember my encounter with that nice old man of Moore.

Marjory Pike (Mrs)

(Reproduced by kind permission of P Burdell - The Red Lion at Moore)

After Ken's death the locals placed a commemorative plaque and memorial on the towpath where he lived beneath his umbrella but that seems to have been lost as time has gone by. I am glad that I had the foresight to photograph it at the time. The photographs were originally included in my book... "The Duke's Cut - The Bridgewater Canal" and I have reproduced them again below. Further details of Ken's life can be found at the following location...

The location of Ken Thomas's memorial...

...and a close-up of the memorial itself

Ken Thomas: 1911 - 1984

(Reproduced by kind permission of P Burdell - The Red Lion at Moore)

We returned to our boats after the meal and next morning set off for our home mooring at Lymm. We made a quick stop at Thorn Marine to order a new fender and enquire about a Desmo table leg we plan to use for an additional small table in the aft cabin. We then returned to Lymm, loaded our things into the car, put the boat on its mooring and made our way home. Our Easter Escape had come to an end!

Our Easter Escape was brilliant even though the weather left a bit to be desired at times. The boat performed faultlessly and needless to say, with it being Easter the central heating was put to good use. We are now looking forward to warmer days and especially our summer cruise. They can't come quickly enough!

Timetable for our Easter Escape

Good Friday 25th March 2016


Lymm to Daresbury
Saturday 26th March 2016


Daresbury to Anderton
Sunday 27th March 2016 - Anderton to Billinge Green Flash
Easter Monday 28th March 2016 - Billinge Green Flash to above Stanthorne Lock
Tuesday 29th March 2016 - Above Stanthorne Lock to Barbridge
Wednesday 30th March 2016 - Barbridge to Church Minshull
Thursday 31st March 2016 - Church Minshull to Middlewich
Friday 1st April 2016 - Middlewich to Moore
Saturday 2nd April 2016 - Moore to Lymm


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Chapter 3 -  Scouse Saunter - Summer Cruise 2016

This year our summer cruise was to Liverpool. It had been a nine years since we had ventured down the Leeds and Liverpool Canal past Burscough when we moored in the Eldonian Village on the 2007 Lymm CC Summer Cruise and we were looking forward to cruising along the relatively new (opened on the 20th February 2009) Liverpool Docks Link... an extension to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal that passes through Liverpool's North Docks, in front of the Three Graces at the Pier Head and through Canning Basin and Half-Tide Dock then through Albert Dock to Salthouse Dock where the visitor moorings are located (see the Liverpool Link section of this website).

We started to make preparations for the cruise in November 2015 when we booked our passage through the Link and a berth at Salthouse Dock Visitor Moorings with the Canal and River Trust who allocated berth S4 to us. I had previously walked along most of the Link taking photographs both before, during and after completion. We have visited the Pier Head and Albert Dock sections many times and we had cruised part of it on board a friend's boat but would be good to be able to cruise along the whole length of it on our own boat.

Narrowboats belonging to Lymm CC members cruising along the Liverpool Link in 2015

The Pier Head is the nearest point on the canal network that the boat can get to our home in Wallasey on the Wirral (on the opposite bank of the River Mersey) which, in a straight line is approximately two miles (3·2 km) from home. The boat would also be passing to within a couple of hundred metres from where it was built at the old Liverpool Boat Company works in Townsend Street close to Boundary Street Bridge (Bridge E). What's more... we won't even have to purchase a Canal and River Trust licence as the reciprocal arrangement between the Canal and River Trust and the Bridgewater Canal Company covers the entire length our cruise! Ange, Ruby and myself were to be be accompanied on the cruise by Wendy and Paul Savage with their son Oliver, his girlfriend Chelsea, niece Libby... fellow Lymm CC members and the latest addition to their crew in the shape of Rosa the tortoiseshell kitten on their narrowboat Adreva. Our grandaughter Shannon would be joining us at Liverpool for the second week of the cruise.

The boat was temporarily moored at Agden prior to our summer cruise as it was easier to prepare the boat and load clothes, food, etc. on a linear mooring than on our permanent jetty mooring at Lymm and we arrived on the Friday evening after finishing work ready to start our holiday the next morning. When everything was loaded onto the boat we had dinner and waited for our friends to arrive. We set off next morning in bright sunshine. Approaching Altrincham we noticed that the majority of the old Lynotype Works had been demolished with only a facade shrouded in scaffolding and the main building remaining. Preparing, no doubt, for redevelopment of the site.

Partially demolished Linotype Works in preparation for redevelopment

Our first stop was at the Trafford Centre where we spent a few hours around the shops before carrying on. We passed through the new lock gates installed just after Worsley and noted the double gates arranged to close in either direction. At Boothstown we stopped for the night and after tea we congregated around Paul's brazier for drinks and conversation. Ruby was getting along well with Rosa and they got to know each other. Rosa was a little cautious at first but they were sewing the seeds of their friendship.

Sitting outside with a drink at Boothstown

As the sun went down we retired to our beds ready to proceed to Wigan the next morning. We had a lie-in and after breakfast we set off stopping at Astley for a visit to the Mining Museum. Next stop was at Leigh for fresh food shopping at the Aldi store conveniently situated next to the canal We were pleasantly surprised at Plank Lane Lift Bridge where there was no queue. New housing was being built adjacent to the canal on the site of the coal mine that was once here. The new houses had solar panels integrated into their rooves... the first time I had ever seen them fitted in this way. The adjacent marina is still not completed even though it has been filled with water for many years. After opening the bridge we carried on in the hot summer sunshine towards Wigan.

New housing at Plank Lane... note the integrated solar panels in the rooves

Plank Lane Lift Bridge

Shortly after Plank Lane we reached Dover Lock. We made an unscheduled stop to speak to fellow Lymm CC members returning from their summer cruise through the Huddersfield Narrow and Leeds and Liverpool Canals. Arthur Malcolm (whose mooring we had borrowed before coming away) and Barry Greenough told us of their adventures through Standedge Tunnel and the other-high lights of their trip. We were jealous of the fact that they had been away for over six weeks and we all look forward to when we retire fully and can cruise for that period of time. Next morning we set off for Wigan in bright sunlight and before long Poolstock Locks loomed in the distance. Time for Ruby to put her buoyancy aid on!

Poolstock Number Two Lock

The pound in-between the two locks was shallow but he water level soon rose when the second lock was emptied. When we were in the second lock I remembered the first time I went through it in 1986 when it still possessed the original wooden sides and a reinforcing beam across the chamber to help combat subsidence. On this occasion there were faulty paddles, some of which had labels attached to them stating that they had been faulty since 2012. Time for the canal and River Trust to address dredging and maintenance issues and also provide rubbish disposal facilities I think! These two locks replaced the one at Plank Lane and two at Dover Lock that were removed when the canal banks were raised due to the action of subsidence caused by the coalmining that took place in the area. After turning left at Wigan we negotiated Henhurst Lock then stopped adjacent to the Canal and River Trust offices to top-up the fresh water tanks and a quick bite to eat before setting off again in the drizzle that had started. We continued through the locks leading out of Wigan and before long the drizzle stopped then we were cruising along one of my favourite stretches of canal through the beautiful River Douglas Valley.

Dean Locks nestling beneath the M6 viaduct... the River Douglas Branch was located on the far right

The picturesque Dean Locks nestle in the shadow of the M6 viaduct. It was here, below the locks, that there was once a short branch connecting the canal with the once navigable River Douglas. The branch was in-filled when the canal was completed and the river fell into disuse although its location can still be seen as can the location of some of the locks which we planned to stop and photograph on our return journey. We continued along the valley past Appley Bridge and through the deep lock that duplicates the two smaller locks on the adjacent "dual carriageway" canal. There were more faulty paddles here including one that stated that it had been faulty since 2008!

The "dual carriageway" canal at Appley Bridge can be seen clearly in this photograph

The weather had turned overcast but the sun came out again as we moored for the night below Hand Lane Bridge (Bridge 41) in the middle of nowhere. I suspected that we had picked-up something around the propeller and a visit down the weed hatch confirmed this as a short length of rope was removed with the aid of an old Stanley knife kept adjacent to the weed hatch for just this purpose. After tea we had a visit from Ange's son Michael. He stayed for a couple of hours before heading back along the towpath and we looked forward to seeing him again at Liverpool when he was delivering Shannon to join us and promised to take photographs of us passing through the Liverpool Link at the Pier Head.

Moored below Hand Lane Bridge 41 in the middle of nowhere

The weather was overcast again the next morning and we set off passing through Parbold, making for Burscough. On the way we passed a couple of World War Two "Pill Boxes". Their location reminded me of our trip along the Kennet and Avon Canal a few years ago where there was one every kilometre or so.

World War Two "Pill Box" at the side of the canal near Burscough

Queue for a swing bridge approaching Burscough

The sanitary station at Burscough is located in what was the old British Waterways Maintenance Yard which has now been redeveloped into pleasant artisan shops and cafés. Here we topped-up the water tank, emptied the loo and made a visit to the shops to replenish our fresh food stocks. We decided to stay for the night as there were two suitably sized mooring places left on the visitor moorings.

The redeveloped BW Maintenance Yard at Burscough

After Burscough the swing bridges came thick and fast and we took turns opening them. It never ceases to amaze me why motorists frown when they are being held up by traffic on the canal negotiating the bridges. Maybe they are victims of poor time management! The weather had brightened up and we cruised through the lush agricultural land as the crops such as cabbages, potatoes, onions, wheat, etc. were ripening in the warm summer sunshine.

Pleasant countryside near Haskayne

We moored for the night at Haskayne. I remember visiting The Ship Inn here many years ago on our last visit to Liverpool when we were fortunate enough to moor right outside but now these convenient moorings are occupied by permanently moored craft. We moored just around the bend in the canal and visited the pub (nice topiary!) where we were treated to an excellent meal that was enjoyed by everyone.

The Ship Inn at Haskayne

Nice topiary in the Ship Inn's garden

The pub had a collection of old monochrome photographs documenting life on the canal and surrounding area. Paul and I usually take great pleasure in looking at old photographs in pubs and restaurants but on this occasion Paul and Wendy's niece Libby wanted to see them as well. Later, when discussing them she mentioned the old days when everyone was black and white. This humorous statement prompted me to take a photograph of Libby in monochrome... just for her!

Monochrome Libby

The next morning we carried on towards Liverpool. We negotiated more swing bridges but when we came to Methodist Swing Bridge - Bridge 15 at Maghull there was a fault on the bridge that was preventing it from operating, After waiting for a while a Canal and River Trust van with personnel arrived at the bridge to fix the fault. Things didn't bode well.

Methodist Swing Bridge 15 at Maghull

Canal and River Trust personnel working on the bridge control unit

The personnel had their heads in the control cabinet and after about fifteen minutes we were told to start our engines and prepare to cast off if the bridge swung. The lights started to flash and the barriers came down then the bridge started to swing. We didn't hang around and sped through the bridge hole once the bridge was fully swung. As we passed the C & R T personnel we thanked them for their speedy response before we carried on down the canal. We had been told to be at Ledson's Swing Bridge 9c in Maghull for 09.30 the following morning. We were also told that the best mooring in the area was at Holmes Swing Bridge 10 near Melling and that is where we moored mid-afternoon.

Holmes Swing Bridge 10 - Melling

Our mooring just after Holmes Swing Bridge 10

I took the opportunity to do a couple of jobs like delving down the weed hatch again to clear the propeller (this time a thick plastic bag and thin rope) and filling the stern gland greaser. Paul and Oliver offered to help me thread the cable from the solar panel through the ceiling lining to the electrical cupboard. I had previously had a problem threading the cable and welcomed a fresh pair of eyes with different ideas. After trying with various items the cable was threaded through the space with the help of a length of flexible curtain wire. It didn't take long to make the electrical connections and soon the batteries were benefiting from the three and a half amps of charging current produced by the panel in the late afternoon light. When I think back to the hours that my father spent re-winding the charging coils on Phial's Crescent Marin 18 outboard motor to increase the charging current from half an amp to one amp (see Canalscape Book 1 - Chapter 5 - A Small Glass Vessel) I wonder what he would have thought of the technology that went into the solar panel that gives substantially more than that without the engine going (providing there is some sunlight that is)! Later on, after tea we were treated to a beautiful sunset that was just crying out to be captured by the Leica and is reproduced below.

Melling Sunset

Next morning we set off early at 8.00 am in order to be at Ledson's Swing Bridge 9c which can only be operated by CRT personnel due to it carrying a main road across the canal. We were the second and third boats to arrive and waited patiently for the C & R T personnel to arrive and swing the bridge for us. Whilst we waited we had a cup of coffee and biscuits.  Ruby and Rosa took advantage of the stop for an impromptu game of "tick".

Ledson's Swing Bridge 9c at Maghull

With Bridge 9c out of the way we made our way through the outskirts of Liverpool and occasionally had glimpses of the city's skyline. We passed Aintree Racecourse's famous Canal Turn, made our way through Wavertree and Bootle before stopping at Litherland Services. Here the water tanks were filled, toilets emptied and cupboards topped-up from the adjacent Tesco. As we left Litherland Services I noticed a turtle hiding in the reeds and photographed it.

The close proximity of Tesco to Litherland Services is illustrated in this photograph

The Litherland Turtle

We were only a couple of kilometres from the Stanley Lock Flight where C&RT personnel would be waiting for us. The water in the length of canal leading to the Stanley Dock Branch was surprisingly clear but that didn't prevent us from picking up mere debris around the propeller... weeds and more plastic bags! The area is dominated by the fourteen storey, 1901 Tobacco Warehouse which was, at the time of construction, the world's largest warehouse as well as currently holding the record for the largest brick-built warehouse in the world. In addition to this it has been a location for many blockbuster movies including Sherlock Holmes and Captain America. It fell into disuse during the 1980's but has since been home to a popular heritage market and Boxing Day raves. It is now being redeveloped into a development which will contain 476 apartments, with businesses, cafés and retail outlets on the ground floor.

In the top lock of the Stanley Dock Flight

Bottom Lock in the Stanley Flight overshadowed by the massive Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse

Before long it was our turn to descend the locks. As we descended them the CRT personnel gave us advice and directions for the passage through the Liverpool Docks Link... through Stanley Dock, beneath Stanley Bascule Bridge into Collingwood Dock, turn left into Trafalgar Dock at Jesse Hartley's Octagonal Clock Tower then into "Sid's Ditch". On exiting "Sid's Ditch" keep to the left in Waterloo Dock and follow the route through Prince's Half-Tide Dock between the channel marker buoys. Keep to the right in Prince's Dock and beneath the futuristic looking footbridge. Then wait for Prince's Lock to be set for us. Before exiting the lock switch on the headlight for the tunnels and wait at Mann Island Lock which will lower us down to Canning Basin. Turn right into Canning Half-tide Dock and left into Albert Dock. Cross the dock diagonally, pass beneath the cast iron bridge into Canning Dock then onto our respective mooring jetties.

leaving Stanley Dock for Collingwood Dock in the shadow of the Tobacco Warehouse

Jesse Harley's 1848 Octagonal Clock Tower marks the entrance to Trafalgar Dock

The sign indicating the location of "Sid's Ditch"

Cruising along "Sid's Ditch"

Passing through Waterloo Dock

Entering Prince's Dock... note the marker buoys indicating the navigation channel

At Prince's Lock Michael, Shannon and Emma... Michael's girlfriend joined us. Michael took photographs of us passing through the part of the Link in front of the Three Graces as promised and rejoined us at Mann Island Lock that lowered us into Canning Basin.

Waiting for Prince's Lock... where our visitors joined us

(Photograph - Michael Dawson)

Passing through the Pier Head Channel from the boat...

...and from the bank as well

(Photograph - Michael Dawson)

Inside Mann Island Lock

Adreva passing through Canning basin

(Photograph - Michael Dawson)

Entering Albert Dock

(Photograph - Michael Dawson)

We then passed through Albert Dock gaining admiring glances from visitors to the dock and when we were in Salthouse Dock we reversed into our berth. Ours was S4 and once we were safely tied up on our mooring and hooked-up to the mains land line it was time for a well deserved cup of coffee.

nb Squirrel on berth S4 in Salthouse Dock

We then said goodbye to our visitors, unpacking Shannon's clothes and putting them away in the under-bunk storage. Paul and Wendy's mooring was on the Strand side of the dock but as there was an empty berth next to us the C & R T officer said that they could move their to berth S5 the next morning. Once they had moved their boat we gave them a tour of the city. As it was such a beautiful day we went on an open topped bus which dropped us off at the Liverpool Museum which the children (and the adults) enjoyed immensely. After the museum we caught the open-topped bus again which took us to the magnificent Anglican Cathedral... my favourite building in the city.

The Lady Chapel in the Anglican Cathedral

There was a service in progress and we were treated to some beautiful music from the magnificent Willis organ around which the building was built. Once our visit to the Anglican Cathedral was over we again caught the open-topped bus which returned us to our moorings. That evening we went into Liverpool One and had dinner at Nando's Restaurant (I wasn't impressed and could not recommend it) then, whilst the others went to the cinema to see "Finding Dory" I returned to the boat and took Ruby for a walk around the Albert Dock.

The view of Salthouse Dock from our berth

The following morning we went around the shops in Liverpool One and on our return we all got our collapsible chairs out and sat out on the pontoon in the beautiful sunshine Wendy made tea and coffee and brought out a plate of cakes. One of the cakes was Battenberg which is Paul's favourite. When we had finished there was one piece of Battenberg that had Paul's name on it. He picked up the cake to eat it and dropped it in the dock. Maybe there is a jellyfish beneath the pontoons called Paul as well!. Wendy had brought a bubble machine to amuse the children and it had an unexpected fan in the shape of Ruby. She enjoyed chasing the bubbles and tired herself out after an hour of playing. We promised to buy her one of her own on our return from holiday (which we did).

Ruby chasing bubbles

After chilling out in the beautiful sunshine on the mooring we went for a walk and savoured the delights that were on offer at the Pier Head. One of the rides there was a high ride called the Sky Swing that raises those brave enough to try it sixty metres in the air and twirling them around supported by cables. Paul and I looked at each other and said "Nahhhhh!"

The sixty metre high Sky Swing at the Pier Head

The day was completed with an enjoyable meal with Oliver and Chelsea at The Pump House opposite our moorings. We thought that we would have had a visit from some of our family members as it is the nearest we can bring the boat to home but circumstances prevented any of them from visiting us.

Salthouse Dock at night

The wind had got up overnight ready for our departure the next morning. We were due to set off at 8.00 but the C & R T officer (whose name was also Paul) advised us to wait for an hour or so as he had measured 25mph side winds so had not dropped the lock gate at Hartley's Bridge... the entrance to Albert Dock from Canning Half-Tide Dock. After an hour or so we went to see if we could leave yet and as the wind had dropped he opened the lock gate and asked us to make our way to Mann Island Lock which he would have ready for us to go straight into.

C&RT operative Paul dropping Hartley's Gate

Various stages of Hartley's Gate dropping

Crossing a choppy Albert Dock

With Hartley's Gate dropped we made our way through Albert Dock, Canning Half-Tide Dock and Basin to Man Island lock without too much interference from the wind. We were sheltered in the cutting in front of the Three Graces that lead to Prince's Lock and then followed the channel to Sid's Ditch. The wind buffeted us as we turned into Trafalgar Dock, beneath the bascule bridge that lead to Stanley Dock and the locks where the C&RT personnel were waiting for us with the bottom gates of the first lock open for us to enter.

In Mann Island Lock

Passing beneath Prince's Dock Footbridge

Ascending the Stanley Lock Flight

The wind had now dropped and the sun came out as we climbed the flight and back onto the main line of the canal. After thanking and saying goodbye to the C & R T staff and volunteers we made our way through the industrial area and stopped at Litherland Services (no sign of the Litherland Turtle) to empty the loos and make a quick visit to Tesco to replenish our fresh food stocks. Once back under way we carried on leaving the city behind and after a couple of hours cruising we were in open countryside once more. The swing bridges operated perfectly this time without any problems and we moored for the night between bridges 19 and 20.

Passing through leafy Maghull

The next day we had not planned on cruising far... to Burscough in fact. As it was another fine, sunny day Paul and Wendy had brought tie-dye stuff for the children (and adults) to make their own tie-dye t-shirts. We had previously bought plain white t-shirts of the relevant sizes whilst we were in Liverpool for just this purpose. Everyone created their own pattern and dyed their t-shirts accordingly. The resulting garments were put on improvised clothes lines to dry and we planned to have a day when we all wore them at the same time. Whilst the tie-dyeing was in progress Ruby and Rosa made the most of the time and played tick for about an hour non-stop.

Libby and Shannon tie-dying

Ange hanging the tie-dye t-shirts out to dry

Ruby and Rosa enjoying a game of tick

After lunch we set off for Burscough and travelled back through the lush agricultural land. Whilst Paul and I emptied the loos and topped-up the water tanks we carried on for a couple of kilometres until we reached the moorings just before the junction with the Rufford Branch that leads to Tarleton and the tidal River Douglas, the River Ribble and the Lancaster Canal. After showering and changing we all went to The Ship Inn at Lathom (adjacent to the second lock on the Rufford Branch) where we had booked a table for a meal. The meal was wonderful and we returned to our boats with nicely full stomachs. We cannot recommend this restaurant too highly.

Burscough Junction from by the dry-dock

In The Ship at Latham

We had received an e-mail from C&RT informing us that there was a problem with Plank Lane Lift Bridge. The bridge was only going to be operated at 2.00pm for a short period of time on Wednesday and Friday. As it was Tuesday and we would not be able to get there in time so if we didn't want to be stranded we would have to make sure that we were there for Friday afternoon. This meant changing our plans slightly so the following morning we decided to set off after breakfast and make for Dean Locks. The weather was a bit drizzly at first but it cleared up in the afternoon. Before long we were passing along the River Douglas valley and the deep lock at Appley Bridge.

Ange and Paul sharing the deep lock at Appley Bridge

Canalside hamlet at Appley Bridge

Not long afterwards we were at Dean Locks and we decided to moor just after the bend beneath the locks. As we pulled in Ruby jumped off right by a wasps' nest. She yelped repeatedly and ran towards me looking around at her back at the same time. After moving the boats up past the nest we calmed her down but her nose was already swelling and she was looking very sorry for herself. Once the boat was moored we examined her, bathed her with antiseptic and applied antiseptic cream to the affected areas. We counted six stings, some of which still had the wasps' stingers in them. Once Ruby had been attended to she was back to normal except for a swollen nose and scratching where the sings were. We got our chairs and table out and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon before it started to rain and we beat a hasty retreat inside the boats.

The next day had a wet start but it did not stop Paul and I walking across the field dodging the horse droppings to look at the old lock remains on the River Douglas It was difficult to find the remains due to the undergrowth that lines the river at this point.

Lock remains on the River Douglas by Dean Locks

After our archaeological walk we set off through the locks in the drizzle and were soon passing Wigan Pier. We had a quick stop above Henhurst Lock for lunch then the sun came out in time for us to negotiate the two Poolstock Locks. We remembered that the pound separating the two locks was shallow so extra care was taken to make sure that the boats didn't go aground... which they didn't. We planned to moor at to Ince Moss next to the wetlands. It was a great mooring and the chairs came out yet again whilst our dinners cooked.

Tie-dye day line-up

We had to be at Plank Lane for 2.00pm the following day. It was about a two hour cruise so we planned to set off about 11.00am. We all had planned to wear our tie-dye t-shits and after breakfast everyone posed for the Leica. We set off in the lovely sunshine and made good time, arriving at Plank Lane about 1.00pm. There were six boats in front of us but on the other side of the bridge the queue looked considerably longer. We had lunch whilst we waited for the C&RT personnel to arrive. 2.00pm on the dot they turned up and instructed us to be ready to go through the bridge as soon as it was raised. Once safely through the bridge we were astounded at the queue on the other side which stretched for nearly two kilometres.

In the queue to pass through Plank Lane Lift Bridge...

...and part of the queue on the other side of the bridge

At Leigh we stopped to replenish the cupboards then planned to moor for the night at Boothstown. In the meantime we were on our home waters and enjoyed cruising in the brilliant, hot sunshine. At Boothstown we found our favourite moorings empty so after we had moored we had a kip. Ruby joined me and Ange took the photograph below which we thought was really touching and have included it here.

Ruby and yours truly sharing forty winks

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

After tea the table and chairs came out and we basked in what was left of the day's sunshine. It was to be our last night together as tomorrow Wendy, Paul and co. would be carrying on to Manchester whilst we turned right at Waters Meeting to make our way back to our moorings. We reflected on our holiday, how much we had enjoyed it and wondered where we were going to next year.

The following morning we said farewell to our friends and retraced our steps along the Bridgewater Canal. When we reached Agden we were greeted by quite a few of our friends who were having an impromptu work party to trim the hedges along the moorings bordering Agden Lane that Ruby and I had battled against before the summer cruise. And so back to Lymm. We were soon loading the car, putting the boat to bed, heading down the M56 for home and back to reality!


Timetable for our 2016 Summer Cruise to Liverpool

Saturday 30th July 2016 - Agden to Boothstown

Sunday 31st July 2016


Boothstown to Dover Lock

Monday 1st August 2016


Dover Lock to below Bridge 21, Appley Bridge

Tuesday 2nd August 2016


Appley Bridge to Burscough

Wednesday 3rd August 2016


Burscough to Haskayne

Thursday 4th August 2016


Haskayne to Bridge 10

Friday 5th August 2016


Bridge 10 to Canning Dock, Liverpool

Saturday 6th August 2016 - Canning Dock, Liverpool
Sunday 7th August 2016 - Canning Dock, Liverpool
Monday 8th August 2016 - Canning Dock, Liverpool to Bridge 19/20
Tuesday 9th August 2016 - Bridge 19/20 to Burscough Junction
Wednesday 10th August 2016 - Burscough Junction to Dean Locks
Thursday 11th August 2016 - Dean Locks to Hoole Moss Flash, Wigan
Friday 12th August 2016 - Hoole Moss Flash, Wigan to Boothstown
Saturday 13th August 2016 - Boothstown to Lymm

Epilogue to Scouse Saunter

Once again our beautiful narrowboat has taken us safely, reliably and economically on our summer holiday cruise. We cannot fault its performance and each year the improvements we have made make the boat just that little bit better and more comfortable. In the October 1991 edition of "Waterways World" there was an article with the title of "Is There Life Below Wigan?" in which I discussed the Leeds and Liverpool Canal from Wigan to Liverpool (see Canalscape Book 2 - Chapter Five - Is There Life Below Wigan?). The article was supplemented by a follow-up article... "Is There Still Life Below Wigan?" reproduced in "Canalscape Book 4" which documented a later cruise along the canal as well as the new Liverpool Link.

Title page from the article published in the October 1991 edition of "Waterways World"

Well after the 2016 summer cruise I can happily report that there is even more life below Wigan. There were a few weedy stretches and the C & R T need to address a few dredging and maintenance issues but other than that we cannot fault the canal. We did not see much traffic whilst we were cruising which is a shame as we cannot recommend this cruise too highly. The Canal and River Trust staff looked after us well, opening bridges, operating locks and answering any questions we had. Top marks on that score! We have told friends about our experiences and whetted their appetites. If we re-visit Liverpool by boat in the near future I think that we will be accompanied by a couple more boats from those wanting to share our experiences. In the meantime we are looking forward to our 2017 summer cruise even though we haven't decided where it will be to... Chester and Ellesmere Port looks promising though!

Sunset at Haskayne near Bridge 20 on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal


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Canalography 2016

Our canal cruising experiences and milestones during 2016

March/April 2016 - Easter Cruise to Barbridge Junction along Bridgewater, Trent and Mersey and Shropshire Union Canals
July/August 2016 - Summer Cruise to Liverpool along Bridgewater and Leeds and Liverpool Canals


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The story most probably continues in

Book 13

Canal Cruising 2017

Finances, time and health allowing!


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or select another book below...




Book 1 - 1959 to 1982


Book 2 - 1983 to 1999

Book 3 - 2000 to 2005

  Book 4 - 2006 to 2007
  Book 5 - 2008 to 2010
  Book 6 - 2010
  Book 7 - 2011

Book 8 - 2012

Book 9 - 2013

Book 10 - 2014
  Book 11 - 2015
  Book 13 - 2017
   Book 14 - 2018
   Book 15 - 2019
   Book 16 - 2020
So You Want To Go Canal Cruising?
nb Squirrel
Canals on Screen
Canalscape Photography
Photography in One
The History of Lymm Cruising Club
The Duke's Cut - The Bridgewater Canal
The Big Ditch - Manchester's Ship Canal
Shroppie - The Shropshire Union Canal System
The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal
 Mersey Connections
Wonders of the Waterways
2011 Gardner Engine Rally Report
Foreign Forays - Canals of the World
Worsley Canal Heritage Walk
Castlefield Canal Heritage Walk
The Liverpool Docks Link

nb Total Eclipse

Don't Call it a Barge

Canis Canalus

Footnote and Acknowledgements
Site Map
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Updated 07/07/2020