Two weeks have passed since we left the marina, everything is back to normal and our travelling is becoming very enjoyable.
I have seen a Water Rail bird, a stoat, Mr Hs watched a badger through his binoculars. We have left the Trent & Mersey Canal onto the privately owned Bridgewater canal which is wide and relatively well kept. I have taken photos along the way of graffiti, interesting buildings and nice canal areas.
We have met some interesting people, and I have had some great lads help me on the locks. Two were smoking their joints wrapped in licorice papers, but were friendly and helpful. A group of boys eagerly helped asking a myriad of questions about the boat, how the locks work. We saw a group of idiotic children behind up stripping off and jumping into the locks to swim, if only they knew the dangers they were putting themselves in…
We have been down the Anderton Boat Lift to the River Weaver, and spent two days in beautiful soundings. We came back up the Anderton Boat Lift and carried on the Trent & Mersey. Mr Hs decided to that we would continue up towards Liverpool & Leeds and head up North. He didn’t wait for me whilst I was in the bathroom to go through a lock and nearly caught the boat on the cill, bending the rudder. I guess he wanted to prove to himself he could still do locks single handed.
Yesterday we climbed through 27 locks, the first two, then the 25 locks of the Wigan flight. These were double locks for two boats at a time, with big and heavy gates. I had struggled with about five before we were joined by another boat with plenty of bodies on board to help at the locks. These were locals and had it planned to a tee..one guy went ahead and set the locks up ready, and two others worked bringing the boats through. What would have taken us about eight hours, took two. Phew! thank goodness they came along. Back on the Liverpool & Leeds canal we saw how little maintenance the Canal and River Trust has been carried out. The locks were in bad state with rubbish caught in the paddles making them leak and unable to work properly. The anti vandal locks were not always working which meant that one pound had drained of all water and we had to refill it before we could progress any further, that meant sitting in the lock for an hour because the pound had enough water to get to the next lock.
The water had dropped about two feet down the flight, which makes it dangerous for boats getting caught on cills, leaving the locks and sinking which happened a few days ago.
There is no apparent work being carried out by CaRT to keep one of Britain’s heritage in working order for the benefit of all.
Once upon a time British Waterways employed Lengthmen who lived in lock-keeper cottages and looked after a length of the cut (canal). The cottages were sold off, and there is no one to care for, monitor, and be the eyes and ears of BW’s. The breach of the canal at Dutton could have been avoided had there been a lengthman who would have seen problems. At flights of locks one or two lengthmen could help, and monitor what was happening. Volunteer lock helpers are encouraged by CaRT to get boats through locks quickly and safetly, but they only appear to want to work on nice rural locks that boaters themselves would prefer to do. I understand that recently CaRT decided they could make some money by charging companies who offer their staff as volunteers during team building days. Now, I know that sometimes I have problems in understanding some things but that seems ridiculous. Needless to say a charge would negate volunteering and also stop it.
Anyway, we are now moored up opposite a golf course, and resting our weary and painful joints and muscles after yesterdays workout!