Tuesday 7th June 2016 nb:Black Bart escapes the darkness of Preston Brook Tunnel at the head of our convoy of four. The time duth be 10.20am & we are leaving the Trent & Mersey Canal. Within ten minutes we are turning in a Westerly direction (left) at the junction and chugging our way to Runcorn. Five miles of splendid wide deep canal. An enjoyable green-walled path of healthy looking clear water. Can even see the canal bed in places. Most impressive. Water Lilies are in plentiful abundant as we cruise along.
We pass by interesting sights & scenes. That water tower looks inviting. Can’t reach it from the canal though. Water tank is almost empty due to lack of recent water points & (static) painting days at Dutton Hollow back there on the T&M. Tick-over approaches to two different boaty communities proves fruitless. Waterless to be moor exact. There be no such faucet for use by visiting boaters on this ‘ere canal and they is not offering use of their supply facilities. Cheers Guys. Most kind. This is not a busy section of the canal as-tis a ‘dead-end’ now, so we believes many travellers coming to/from T&M and the ‘Main’ line of the Bridgewater is likely passing it by. Shame really. They do not appreciate what they is missing. Quite nice in other respects though as we witness no other boat activity for de hole five miles of this current watery trip.
Fine artwork is being missed by many a boater. Splendid curvy wurvy stone bridges too.
& soo Many other Delights you would likely hardly believe. There even be Large mooring bollards that look like they should be for the Manchester Ship Canal rather then the Bridgewater Canal. If you duth no yet appreciate, the Manchester Ship Canal is a very aptly named waterway.
Bart & crew finally enter the less green aspects of the residential world than we no longer experience as much as many of you likely do. Sorry !!! There be an obstruction ahead. A modern concrete construct of major road travels across the canal, just past the older Waterloo Bridge. The Bridgewater travels no further any moor. ‘Father of the Canals’ Mr. James Brindley designed this first major canal for Francis Egerton the third Duke of Bridgewater & all of us English folk way back. Opened on 17th July 1761 (& extended later) this engineering masterpiece was affectionately known as the “Dukes Cut”. The Bridgewater Canal revolutionised transport in this country and marked the beginning of the golden canal era which followed from 1760 to 1830.
A cozy fit for 70′ of steel to wind. Make an aboat turn so to speak. Decide to go for a clockwise rotation. At least Skip can keep a close eye on the plastic cruiser right ‘ere at the stern as Bart winds on a sixpence. Almost anyway. Cleanly done sir. No bumping of bow or stern. Bart pulls in to berth as there be very handy mooring rings.
A walk through Runcorn & down to see the Manchester Ship Canal
& the Mighty River Mersey. Fantastic bridges. Rail & road. Most impressive.
Presuming they might be constructing a new bridge out there over the Mersey channel ??
Originally Runcorn Locks connected directly to the tidal River Mersey but when the Manchester Ship Canal was opened in 1894, the locks fed into that, with the tidal locks eventually becoming unused.
In 1966 some fools had the locks destroyed, filling them in. Not very nice. There are Good people out there pushing to have them brought back to life. Not going to be easy. Not going to be cheap. We hope they are successful. We wish them Well & Good Luck.
NB:Black Bart and our jolly crew of three are on our way again. Three ‘ers we ‘ave stayed but now we travel back East from Runcorn retracing our swim of this morning. We still need water. Yes !! We know there be loads’o water underneath & aroand us but we need a tap of the ‘fresh’ stuff. Bart is getting dry. Confusing we have no doubt for you land lovers out there.
Five miles later & amazingly two other narrowboats have been spotted on the move, it’s almost getting busy roand ‘ere matey !!
We approach the junction, turning a sharp North-East & ‘open-up’ old Lister for some real speed. It’s all relative me hearties. Aaaarrrggh !! Shiver-me-timbers. Although our craft is of a metal construction. Plenty of lovely wood inside though. Shiver-me-ferrous-(& non ferrous as there be brass on this ‘ere craft)-metals.
The Bridgewater Canal takes a delightful route though the glorious North-West countryside, sweeping round any natural undulations, following contours of the land. Thus no locks. Splendid, for a while, at least. After another fabulous five mile cruise (that’s aboat 17 miles in total today. Amazing) we come across Stockton Heath.
& even the overnight accommodation looks promising.
Slowing down (properly) past a few moored craft as you do (& some others should remember to) we pull in for water (Yeh !!!) at Thorn Marine. Hose unreeled, connected, tap on. Great. Oh !! No water. Obviously the tap is isolated after work hours. It is 7.00pm. Oh Well. Dirty & smelly we shall remain. Lines released & Bart (with help from his friends Lister & old Prop) reverses a fair old way back until the moor suitable, greener, wider, tree lined towpath is found. Mooring pins hammered in. Lines secured. Time for crew to relax & continue being smelly. It has to be said we is quite knackered bloggetts so tis time to bid you all farewell. Sleep Tight. Hope the bed bugs don’t bite. ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz…………………….
Wednesday 8th June Ciao Bambinos. We manage to squeeze a couple of quick showers out of old watanky. The air is much sweeter in here now. Good Morning to one & all….. We take a tittle trek into town.
& what a wonderful town Stockton Heath is. One should visit if ever passing.
Wonderful architecture on display anywhere one may look.
We also spy the tiny Manchester Ship Canal again. Seems to be following us everywhere we (& Bart of course) go/cruise. Not your standard canal swing bridge this one.
George Hoy Booth were a local boy. Talented chap to say the least.
Love the coloured flags everywhere. Simple but effective. We finally return to the towpath to find our trusty steed. Loads moor boats here now. were almost empty last night.
A light lunch, refreshment & finally Lister is taking us forward for a change.We have to pull in before Thorn Marine as they are busy with boats already on the quay & moor be waiting. Get in the queue mate. It be just past 2.00pm.
Almost an ‘er later Lister is running again (for a few moments) as Bart creeps roand a couple of moored craft & into position. the extremely fast tap is most impressive. Diesel bug fluid added to stern tank followed by 88.9 litres of the red stuff. Bart is full again. Not bad for five weeks cruising. Not continuously of course. Be moor than bloody knackered by now. You silly fools !! An extra mooring pin, 2 brass plaques & the local Pearsons map book are bartered for. Very handy to know what lies ahead enroute to the BIG Smoke ala Mersey. All the visiting schools kiddy-winks have been & gone. Buying-up stock of ice-poles, drinks & the such. Freezer & chillers being sensible additions to the shop’s facilities. Apparently it’s mad for aboat an ‘er inta morning & then again inta afternoon. Bart & crew are ready. Handshakes all round. Lovely couple have been running this fine business for over twenty years. And long it may continue. They are rightly very busy. It now be 4.00pm. Luckily, crew embrace the relaxed approach to the slower life of our watery world. Just don’t know where the time goes.
We wave goodbye & make for pastures new. A regular occurrence in ‘Bart World’.
Now that would be interesting project. Fantastic building. We is making pleasant steady progress through wide clear level waters. An ‘er into our cruise & the sky has turned dark grey & inevitably the rain comes. Fortunately our alert crew had closed all side hatches & closed the cratch cover at the fore. Skip is just wearing shorts (& deck shoes sillies) (got to be safe. sticksion is vital on & aroand Bart). Now getting very wet having very foolishly turned down the offer of thow’s wet weather garment. That rain be very cooling on one’s shoulders, back & others places too.
Not so warm now. There be a Very Soggy Skip at the helm. Skip decides to keep going, willing the rain to back off a tittle. It be chucking it down. Not going to be quick pulling in & securing those lines with the need to hammer in mooring pins etc…….
Skips finally thinks we will have to try & moor after all as it not be looking (or feeling) like it might be getting anywhere near dry any time soon. Some poor chap is trying to save his barbeque as we pass a moored narrowboat. Suddenly Skip spies a pleasantly wide bridge across the canal that be summit called an M6 ?? Not sure what that means.
Bart brings us safely under cover ‘in’ from the BIG drippy onslaught from above. Skippet hands a towel to helmsman. Good tings towels. Very useful such tings can be. Two ‘showers’ in one day. One quick warm splosh earlier & now a long extravagant cool rinse. ‘Rinse’ doesn’t really go anywhere near but it will have to do as an insufficient explanation.
We hang (float) aroand for a while waiting for a drying of conditions. Photographs not doing this one justice. There is a steady brightening out there & eventually it slows down to a mear occasion droplet or two by comparison. Lister fires up again after another unscheduled rest. Today be a day for waiting. We is a ‘appy bunch so all is Good in ‘Bart World’. A few delays is not upsetting the equilibrium. We cruise on, back into the light & almost dry air.
We make new friends. They explain how much they enjoyed the rain too.
Bart is keeping an eye out for a perfect mooring position. Not convinced yet so keep motoring. Lister-ing as we call it.
We slowly chug into Lymm. OK. This will do us. Secure lines using those very handy rings. We managed a full two hours cruising, less the quart or so hiding under that M6 cover thing.
Thursday 9th June Bart & crew have finally managed to complete the combined drip-dry & air-drying processes to be free from moisture. We aren’t even mildly moist any moor.
We have a walk ta village market. Bart has to stay back to make sure nobody comes along & nicks our mooring position. Some aquirings are made including steak suet puddings. Skip is especially partial to a suet pudding where ever the opportunity arises. Which isn’t as often as it should be. They be a rare beast. You may never have, but one strongly suggests you try. They are a delightful treat to have on your dinner plate. Even better to then have in your tummy. The process of transportation from plate to tummy is a fine experience. That is what (quite surprisingly) happens during this evenings delightful meal. Yummy Yummy in my Tummy. & Yummy Yummy Enroute too. Skippet enjoys a most splendid salmon dish. Fit for any high ranking officer of a vessel like the good ‘ship’ Bartholomew Roberts.
Black Bart is relaxing near the delightful Bridgewater House.
Friday 10th June Not sure what we is doing today bloggers. Ah Yes !! Back in the room. Today it be grey up there in the sky & cool doin ‘ere near the water. At least the air be dry. We make a good start to our day & are slowly moving away from Lymm to where we do not yet know. On line moorings aplenty today encourages moor pronounced relaxation (not difficult in Bart World) resulting in gentile progress. Even compared to ‘normal’.
Bart enjoys the varied sights that pass us by, as does our faithful crew. Almost like being in Venice again. The proper italic one that is.
Hope this splendid property is either still in use or will be saved for posterity.
Bollington Wharf is a rare place in these wide waters. There is a water refuelling station. Skip almost ‘sails’ right on past but Bart is moor observant & with Lister & prop jumping too, reversing technique is practiced (as needs to happen at least every few days) & we pullover to wait for the next slot. Sumtym later we cross the canal and take up our position. This faucet is almost generous being fast-ish & ‘free’. No money exchanges hands in this deal. Watered, lines slipped & Lister is powering (18 horses you know) (a few moor can be called upon when really desperate) along, gliding through our watering path beautifully. After the extensive on-line moorings are finally behind us. Bart is happy with chosen berth position (conjures up a few images) (have you seen ‘One born every minute’ recently ?),
with the finest of bench constructions imaginable perfectly stationed for our stay.
With the recent acquisition of a new mooring pin Bart is (hopefully) safely secured using two pins hammered in both fore & aft. Now as you might have gathered, Skip is not a happy chappy when most boaters are cruising by other moored craft. Many do not slow down enough. On the Bridgewater it is even worse. As we be on wider deeper water many are travelling by far too fast. Some at moor velocity than Bart can even go in huge water like the Thames, Trent or Severn. Not impressed. Thanks to all you thoughtless, kind helmspersons out there. PLEASE Slow Down to Tick-over folks. Chill. Relax. Slow down. That is the whole point of this canal travel along our wonderful inland waterways. Thankyou. Cheers ! !! !!!
We had been advised by another boater to double-up the pins. Very good advise. At least the ground is fairly stable here. Ta pins need a good old beating to drive then into the ground. Feels promising. They get a ‘good’ stern test over the coming hours.
Customary doggy games ensue with the extra fun of javelin practise this evening. Skip is not very good at all. Skippet is much improved but just requires a tad moor fine tuning of technique. Definite improvement though.
Skip checks mooring pins late, before sleepy time. Fore pins are holding well. Stern pins are already working loose. Will leave them tonight & sort tings out inta morning.
Saturday 11th June Today is a Very Special Day for a Most Wonderful of Persons. Huge Congratulations to you aged ‘P’. Yes, you know who you are. Happy Birthday to you Sir !!!
Tis a soggy wet old day out there. Skip re-sites stern mooring pins for improved security and we hunker down for a fair old time of moistness in the most extreme & ‘flying’ boats powering by. After one intended departure for a walk is abandoned due to the short rainless period getting very wet again, we finally manage to go for a trog, dodging the watery pools that adorn the towpath. This towpath is very good, so at least it’s not all muddy & slippery like some would be after all the rain we is ‘aving.
Dunham Massey is not far away so we go for a look aroand. Lovely, quiet village with a fab church, lovely looking dwellings & little post office/shop that be closed now. Tis late Saturday afternoon.
Roxy enjoys some ball manoeuvring practise. Good to tune her agility.
All that leaping aboat has worn poor old skip out. Needs to go to bed & collapse now.
Sunday 12th June At aboat 8-ish this morning there was a very brief scrapping noise outside in Bart’s roof. Skippet was up making tea. had a look through the portholes. Couldn’t see anything. Skip looked out stern cabin porthole. Couldn’t see anything. Didn’t think anything moor aboat it. After tea (thanks Skippet) Skip takes Roxy out for her potty training. She is really improving now. Skip happens to notice one of Bart’s Barrels has disappeared off the roof. Now one realises what that noise were all aboat. Cannot repeat the words that skip let’s past his lips for the forthcoming period. NOT Happy. Skip goes off walking along tow path in both directions hoping the idiot who took it off the roof might have just put it somewhere else. No. Can’t find it. Off again to have another look, checking the high grass & stingers that line the towpath several feet deep & high, to see if there is recent ‘impact’ of fairly heavy object being thrown into them somewhere. After a fair olde’ while suddenly an area of such an event is noticed. Thankfully, after some flattening of surrounding overgrowth, a familiar wooden barrel is found. There are some right morons out there. Couldn’t believe this sort of thin would happen. Especially out here in this wonderful countryside. Incredible. You just can’t get away from them can you. Doesn’t matter where you go. They seem to follow. At least persistence proved our search were successful.
Now having calmed down from this morning’s annoyance, we set ready for some moor cruising of the delightful Bridgewater canal.
Hope this old factory building is not too be completely ripped down. Maybe they are saving the old waterfront facade.
Passing the fascinating mix of old & new that we water-world travellers witness in so many of the towns & cities we visit & pass through.
Lovely wooden boat.
More poohing machines growing up on the water. Give us swans any day.
Broad heath leads Bart onto the long straight that guides all North bound crews to Sale (of rugby fame). The typically gentle Bridgewater wiggerlies return as we pass Stretford before reaching West Manchester & the junction with the Leigh Branch of our current canal companion.
We could continue into Manchester where the Bridgewater only flows only for a couple miles moor before her droplets of H2O transfer into the waters of the Rochdale Canal. Today we are turning in a Westerly direction,
passing by a working factory (even on a Sunday) creating many tasty wonders for all of our breakfast bowls, through Trafford & onwards.
Shortly before Patricroft we reach an old friend…………
Yes. The Manchester Ship Canal is here. Bart glides in the sky (almost) above the even bigger wider deeper ‘blue’ below, swimming along the Barton Swing Aqueduct. Now passing busy residential streets with on-line boats club member’s boats adorned with protection to all there windows. What can this imply aboat this area. Not particularly comforting.
We keep moving forward,
starting to think aboat
possible mooring opportunities.
Sight of a Light House
appearing through the gloom
& misty murkiness calms Skip down.
Were becoming extremely nervous with
the visibility down to 1500 metres or so.
The canal has changed. Well the colour of the water has. Very browny, sandy-ish. Not sure what that is all aboat. We are cruising a long straight with concrete/steel enlarged corrugated style of canal edge/bank. There is a path off to the left, dropping down from the towpath through the undergrowth. Skip hears voices & can just see the heads of some youngsters . Just as Bart is passing them, stones start flying over the bushes across the towpath towards Bart & Skip. One lands in the stern roof hatch just in front of Skip. Then a couple of little sh-1-ts run up to the towpath throwing more stones as Bart is moving on & away. These little gems are shooting abuse & swearing at Skip. One is not amused. Actually one is bleeding furious. Wound up. A dog walker further along says he will ‘have a word’ when Skip informs of the recent pleasant experience. Another ‘tow-pather’ advises they are best thrown into the canal with their stones. That’s Eccles apparently back there. Struggling to comprehend the brain of these ignorant little gits. Other words audibly expressed cannot be repeated here ‘in print’. Sorry Bloggetts. That’s two ‘events’ today. Glad we came through these parts.
Thoughts are trying to angle towards the chilling & relaxing areas again. Black Bart is cruising into Worsley waters.
We stop for water refill & move roand an udder recently moored narrowboat to berth properly for the night. And maybe beyond ?
Good position for a few ‘ers & moor of the old what we call ‘Static’.
We take a walk failing to find much away from the canal where Bart is resting. Back to Bart & we enjoy our location for the evening. Good Night to one, two & all (if any).
Monday 13th June Happy Birthday to another special person in our lives. A younger lad some would say, who we know is a most Fantastic Sailor. & you know who too.. Cheers ! !! !!!
It be a day of persistant rain falling down upon us & most of you out there to we do believe is likely. Late afternoon & a rare dryness is with us
so crew of three take a different walk tuther side of canal & find plenty of lush grass & greenery. Ideal for doggy fun & exercise. Much nicer part of Worsley this. After much fun & running aroand we walk round to this now unused, overgrown, siltup-up basin called
The ‘Delph‘. Sandstone quarried from here was used in the construction of the canal & it’s bridges as well as other marvels within the local.
Twin tunnels lead underground, meeting after 500 yards The start of over 46 miles of canal tunnels. A maze of underground waterways on four levels penetrating the Worsley coalfields to Walkden & Farnworth. Quite incredible.
The Duke’s righthand man John Gilbert devised this impressive scheme. Developed soon after the excavation of the Bridgewater Canal began in 1759. This was an ‘easy’ way of bringing coal from the seams to the canal whilst draining the water from the mines at the same time. The water draining from the old mines makes the canal water in these parts, what they call ‘orange’. Small particles containing iron hydroxide are washed through by water seeping through the rock. Called Ochre, making the canal a fine ‘rusty’ colour.
Black Bart is moored opposite the entrance to the ‘Delph’. A Very important & fascinating historical link of/to the canal. Someone needs to do something aboat the ‘Delph’ it needs to be dredged & made accessible. People of Worsley & the Bridgewater Canal, You need to make something of this incredible link to the canal’s creation & it’s working life thereafter.
We walk back roand past Bart & to the field/green again. Roxy enjoys trying to show off her chasing & ball skills to a younger, faster, more agile dog. Sorry girl, not on the same level. You are still ‘Such a Good Girl’ though. That’s what ‘Mummy’ says anyway.
Tuesday 14th June Black Bart & the crew are leaving the lovely historical canal world of Worsley today. If you can – You should try & visit. By Boat if at all possible. Just be wary of barrel thief’s & young abusive stone throwing thugs. Anybody got a gun ??
Cruising again we are. up early (for us) (these days anyway) (cannot remember what 5.30am is anymore). Some thoughtful boats have blocked the water point mooring so we move on knowing there be water in them there hills somewhere further on, if we is lucky. The dry cloudy morning one was ‘promised’ is more of the very wet heavy ‘drizzle’ type of conditions. Skip is moor correctly attired for today’s Listering. Shorts, but at least shirted, fleeced, wet weather coated & helmsman hatted. Classy. Deck shoes of course, but they don’t really need mentioning. D’oh !! Bart sweeps (gently of course) roand the corner, turning away form the Delph’s silted, abandoned entrance. A rain delay is effected by the M60 (road) (strange thing above) bridge. It backs off a little so Skip requests some gear(s) & Lister brings old prop back into action. The drizzle stays with us for most of our cruise this day, with varying degrees of severity. Fine & steady. Sometimes not so fine. Long straights of rusty looking canal water finally become long straights of moor healthy, noticeably clear water. We swish past Astley, soon waving to Bedford as Bart refuels ready for baths (yes we do have such a wonderful ‘device’) & showers (them too). A short chug is only required now. We sing (not really) goodbye to the wide lock-free Bridgewater Canal.
Black Bart has cruised West to Runcorn, winded, ‘rested’ & cruised back East then North East from Preston Brook at the Junction with the Trent & Mersey Canal to the Leigh branch connection with the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, swimming 37 miles (plus the first extra 5 miles to Runcorn) of the contourishly, wide & lock-free Bridgewater Canal otherwise known as “Dukes Cut”, gliding over 9 ‘underbridges’, chugging over ‘Barsbank’, the River Bollin, the River Mersey and ‘Cut Hole’ using 4 strange channels called aqueducts, Flying over the Manchester Ship Canal in the amazing Barton Swing Aqueduct, sailing along a few embankments & passing under 23 (x2) (to/from Runcorn) + 41 (to waters meeting/junction) + 26 (Leigh Branch) bridges.