Thursday 8 November 2018

Thelwall (we were due a soaking)

After spending Monday night at Ince Moss we had 55 miles to go until we get to the next lock.  This means we should have a few days of gentle cruising without any lock wheeling exercise thus giving our backs a rest.  It’s not quite true that the next lock is 55 miles away as there are two locks on the Leigh branch, but they are disused, and also a stop lock on the Trent & Mersey with a fall of 6-12” so we don’t really count that either.

A boater’s nightmare: emergency vehicle approaching a lift or swing bridge
It was a mild but grey morning on Tuesday and for the first few miles we had flashes on either side of the canal.  They must be brilliant places to visit for those who have a particular interest in water fowl as some of them seemed to be covered in birds.  Flashes were formed as coal mine subsidence caused flash floods giving the term to the remaining standing water.  Further south in Cheshire we have been through flashes caused by salt mine subsidence.

Passing Ince Moss, one of the Wigan Flashes

A bit further on we arrived at the outskirts of Abram where there used to be two locks called Dover Locks #1 & #2.  The pub that stands next to #1 is called Dover Locks and is currently abandoned. 

The Dover lock chambers suffered constant problems due to the subsidence caused by a local coal mine. They were eventually replaced by the two Poolstock locks that we stayed at the previous night just outside Wigan. 

The remnants of Dover lock #1 where you can still see where the lock gates and other mechanical bits used to be in the lock narrows

Other than the lock narrows there is nothing much to see of #2 lock (Dover Lock pub on right)
Soon after the Dover locks we arrived at Plank Lane lift bridge which is closed to boaters during rush hours because of the volume of traffic but as it was after 9.30am we could use it.  We have often wondered what we would do if we heard emergency sirens approaching when a bridge is in use and thankfully it has never happened.

When we were mooring up to operate the bridge, two police vans came through with flashing lights and sirens, so we felt pretty secure that the odds of any more were now greatly reduced.

The camera just caught the blue flashing light on the police van as it left the bridge
We took on water after going through the lift bridge and then headed off for Leigh where we joined the Bridgewater canal.  Immediately, we came across a stanking plank crane and accompanying planks that are so typical of the Bridgewater canal.

Welcome to the Bridgewater canal sign
We stopped for lunch at Worsley, a suburb of Salford.  We couldn’t stop here on our way up as all the moorings had been taken, not so today as we were the only boat.

The coalmines at Worsley were the reason the Bridgewater canal was built as the coal was taken away by boat to Manchester's industrial areas.  The canal was opened in 1761 and was the first canal in the UK not to follow an existing water course.  

The entrances to the coalmines at Worsley
Soon after setting off again we went over the Manchester Ship Canal (MSC) on an aqueduct that swings when large ships are using the MSC.

Crossing the MSC and looking towards Manchester
Looking the other way with the Barton road swing bridge in the foreground and the M60 viaduct in the background
There wasn’t much to report on the rest of the journey as we covered the area in some detail when we came along in April/May time.  Also, we passed no other boats on the move other than a restaurant boat at Patricroft… 

…nice autumnal colours though
We moored up outside the Trafford Park shopping centre for the night after having covered 16 miles during the day.

Tuesday night mooring outside the massive Trafford Park shopping centre (on towpath side!)
The forecast rain didn’t come overnight on Tuesday, although it had been very windy.  Despite the wind and the forecast of rain we decided to cruise for the day and donned wet weather gear in case the rain started. 

Looking ominous as we left Trafford Park
After about a mile’s cruising we arrived at a junction known as Waters Meeting.  This is where the Bridgewater main line heads north, a few miles into the centre of Manchester and the other way heads down to the junction with the Trent & Mersey canal at Preston Brook.

Turning right at Waters Meeting
We turned right towards the Trent & Mersey canal.  We haven’t been on this particular stretch of canal for 3 ½ years so we were looking forward to see how things had changed.  We headed through Stretford and Sale and then Karen got off to walk with Buddy and that was when the rain really started so we never really took much notice of our surroundings.

Getting a bit wet
By the time we got to Lymm the rain had practically stopped so we moored up on the visitors’ moorings for lunch.  The rain held off for most of the rest of the day so we carried on a bit and moored up for the night near Thelwall.

Moored for Wednesday night at Thelwall
The Bridgewater canal is wide and relatively deep meaning most boats go a lot faster than on normal canals.  This is because not so much wash is generated and also because the sides are generally lined in concrete so do not get eroded by any wash that does break on there.  We went slightly faster than normal too so made good time and in all we travelled 14 miles in four hours.

The only boat we saw on the move during the day was a hire boat.  The steerer managed a wet wave and a smile but he couldn’t see what we could: the rest of the crew, who were inside, looked to be having a party ūüėä


Dave said...

That is the second time you got the facts wrong going over the ship canal
The motorway is the M 60 Manchester orbital. Like M 25 but up north.
Was built as M62 when I was at school near there. It was open to walk over for a day.
M6 is a few miles west

Neil & Karen Payne said...

Ooooops - you're right - missing a zero. Have updated the blog. Cheers, Neil