When we set out from Warwick at the beginning of last month, we had great plans of conquering the North. We had decided to take ourselves up the magnificent Lancaster Canal as far as we could get after visiting the beautiful City of Liverpool by motoring in front of the famous Liver Buildings along to the visitor moorings at Salthouse Dock.
For both these journeys there were aspects that needed to be booked in advance so after we arrived at Wigan last weekend, we called into the C&RT North West office on Monday morning hoping to set up both to fit into our previously and meticulously planned schedule.
We spoke to one lady first who gave us application forms for completing the Ribble Link, the short tidal estuary passage that boats have to make to pass from the Rufford Arm of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to the southern end of the Lancaster Canal. We soon realised that we needed to book an exact time on a certain date in order to make this passage and looking at the schedule it was obvious that many other boats were wanting to do exactly the same thing. There were very few spots left for us to book going northwards within the next month and no dates available at all till September for making the return passage.
Now both Janis and I were looking forward to spending perhaps a fortnight in the Lake District while we were so close but also we had planned to be back in Birmingham by September so there was a necessary need to change our plans.
We decided to give up the Lancaster Canal idea and plan it (well in advance) into our next visit north. Instead we decided to concentrate our efforts on the Liverpool Canal Link Passage. Another lady helped us with this and we had yet another form to fill in.
Much better luck this time we experienced. However…..
The Link was closed at the moment, only temporarily mind you, while one of the bridges en route was cleared of a pile of rubble that some third party had dumped therewith, making it unsafe for passage beneath according to the Health and Safety Executive.
So we decided to push on from Wigan on Monday hoping that the way would be clear for us by the time we arrived at our destination.
The weather was wonderful for the journey with bright Sunshine all the way and following the flat, lock free flood plain of the River Douglas was an absolute pleasure. I spied my first Swallow of the year perched on a telephone wire with his distinctive pointy tail and wings protruding well below the wire and all of a sudden there were so many multi families of Mallard in evidence the young, like little furry ping-pong balls, scurrying across the water so fast as to be almost running over the surface. Let’s hope that most of them survive through these early days of life from the keen notice of so many predators.
Part of Wigan Pier looking back to Trencherfield Mill
But on tying up here, near Swingbridge Number 9 at Aintree yesterday there is still no clearance beneath the bridge at Stanley Dock and it is now looking likely that we shall have to wait till after Easter before any further movement is considered.
A Turtle at Eli Meadow Lock
Mallard’s nest at Eli Meadow Lock
The blue bloom of Bluebells
Vulnerable Mallard family