Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Tranquillity and the “Wigan 21”

Leaving our Saturday night mooring we continued along the very tranquil section of canal, into which we’d rather suddenly emerged, after leaving industrial Blackburn.
Perhaps not so strangely but James felt drawn to take this photo showing bridge 89 as it felt so perfect a scene of the English countryside we all imagine it. As it happens,we discover, after the taking the pic, that our Pearson’s canal guide uses the exact same photo for the same reasons. 
Can’t remember which bridge and lock this is but it seems a good example of some of the “tighter” situations we sometimes find ourselves in!
This canal being virgin territory for us, we were advised that ‘Botany Bay’ was a must to stop for and a good overnight mooring to boot. This typical, but still wonderful, restored mill is home to a huge range of outlets. We were in buoyant mood as we moored up but quickly became aware that a boat had been pulled off it’s pins and was across the canal about 50 yards ahead. Onlookers from the the busy ‘Botany Bay’ were bemused as to why it was there and wondering “who was going to do something about it?” Well we did do something about it, which took 5 minutes, and then we took a look inside the huge mill outlet – say no more, that took 5 minutes as well!! However, the moorings were good and we spent a sunny afternoon with wine and nibbles on the back deck followed by a quiet evening and even quieter night. 
Monday morning saw us on an early start (7 o’ clock), purely because we woke early, and by 9 o’ clock we were at the top of the Wigan flight of 21 locks. This is a photo of the top lock and ………..
……… this is us having completed the “Wigan 21”! The environment was pleasant all the way down, some of the bottom lock gates are very heavy and you just have to pace yourself for the long haul. We worked the locks alone and it took us a tedious 5+ hours, due entirely to the two boat crews in front of us. You don’t meet a fool for quite a while then four come along at once! But that’s life!
With a total of 22 locks behind us we were back on familiar territory again, albeit five years ago since we were in Wigan. We managed to squeeze in to the, now defunct, CRT secure moorings with just our bow encroaching on “Private Property – no mooring”. CRT, we are informed, have moved a little further down.
A walk into the town centre eventually found the post box we needed to post a birthday card (sorry it’s a day late Neil!). There are still a few interesting buildings to be enjoyed – the church is a lovely old lump but well hemmed in by other buildings so it’s unable to show off it’s full glory.
On Tuesday morning, after taking advantage of the closeness of the water tap to take on 1/2 ton or so of fresh water, we headed westward once more. Our first lock was just a stone’s throw from the mooring and here we are, waiting for yet another boater (who didn’t know a windlass from a bull’s foot!) to come through the lock. Doug was down at the lock trying to help but it all fell on ‘stony ground’! [Your could sometimes sell tickets for the entertainment value – Teehee]  
As we headed out of town we passed the famous “Wigan Pier” which is looking a little shabby these days.
A bit further on from where James took this pic a couple of ladies walking the towpath called out “is that a wonderful life?” Well, a picture paints a thousand words!
Just before Dean Lock the canal is crossed by the Wigan-Southport railway line and the Preston section of the M6 which, for a short while, broke the tranquillity we’d got used to.
Three transport systems in very quick succession – canal, railway and motorway and the residents of this superbly renovated house obviously don’t mind any of them.
After another lock and a couple of swing bridges, and following closely the River Douglas, we passed through pretty little Parbold. The village has many interesting features which we hope to take a closer look at on our return journey but this time we continued on to Burscough for the shops and a mooring for the night. 

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