#33 Leeds & Liverpool Canal – North & East. July 2016


Wednesday 6th July 2016      With a few tears in our eyes (Roxy too) we are leaving the delights of the Fantastic City of Liverpool, Salthouse Dock & the Liverpool Canal Link. Three narrowboats & one cruiser have joined Bart’s Liverpool South Docks exit convoy today. At the head, our locking companions & crew have mastered ascent of the Stanley dock lock flight.


It be mid-morn & nb:Black Bart has just cruised out of top Lock. Swinging left under the pipe bridge heading through Sandhills, onto Bootle & beyond….



Some of the local artists have been out to show off their talents.

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Most impressive. After a tittle over an ‘er Bart is already closing in on our pre-Salthouse moorings. We’s be not delayed for long before we is then passing through the open swung bridge of Litherland. A weed hatch investigation is required now as there is obviously summit doin there. Yes Cap’n there certainly were. Thank-ee sir. Offending articles removed & on we go again. Our lead position has been relinquished to those pesky Welsh. Our convoy squashes up & awaits arrival of CRT controllers for Netherton electric swing bridge.

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They is soonest ‘ere & our diminished convoy of now four are cruising onwards again, leaving Netherton behind, galloping (almost anyways) past Aintree to Hancock’s powered swing bridge. CRT are already there encouraging us to ‘bunch-up’ & be ready to move through as soon as the bridge is open.



Not soo quickly. The bridge is not opening. We all pull-over to wait. They is ‘aving a tittle trouble. There be an oil leak. We may be moored here tonight.

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They magic the bridge to swing open so we all make a ‘run’ for it. Bart soon has to pull-over to investigate the weed hatch again. Didn’t have these problems cruising the other way when on our way towards Liverpool. Strange. The convoy becomes three as we is left behind. Back to just cruising on our own with the weed hatch cleared again. Just the way we like it. We enjoy a slow trog for another mile, if that, before the manual swing bridge temporarily halt progress.

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Once safely through a few new friends pass us by & then Bart is calling it a day. Quite a long day in the end. Lines are secured. We is near Melling again. Almost same position   from aboat ten days ago. Just pointing tuther way.

Thursday 7th July      Our Lovely Bart & crew are relaxing after the very early start of yester-morn. Warmest Birthday Wishes are sent to a Most Wonderful Boaty Friend of Bart’s Crew. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you know who….  chink !  Chink !!  CHINK !!!

We take it easy this morning. it is a bit grey & soggy out there. Not that unusual in past weeks. Tis afternoon and the rain has stopped. We take a walk into Melling via Holmes swing bridge & New House farm track, landing in the Bootle Arms. Very Quiet, slow service, but we don’t care. The food’s good. The ale’s smooth. The company’s most pleasant. It seems like hours, but crew are back on Bart with the usual very excited ‘pup’ to greet us. This year we haven’t enjoyed any evening cruises. Today we will. Lister is warmed up. Mooring pins extracted (cleaned/wiped as always) & Black Bart starts our evening jaunt.


Crew are ready for action.


This is Lovely. The Clouds clear & we have beautiful hot sun. FANTASTIC !!!

Three manual & one electric swing bridge(s) are dealt with most efficiently as we bask in a most pleasant of canal swims, passing through Maghull & Lydiate.


The clouds slowly start to grow again as we negotiate Coxhead’s all dancing/swinging Bridge. Weren’t sure it would work as this one needed CRT on hand coming through enroute to Liverpool, but we try our luck. Fingers Crossed. Yeh !!  It works. The sky is black behind us. Back where we have been in days past. Still OK ahead.

Haskayne & Scarisbrick come & go. Having decided on our preferred mooring location Bart is keeping Lister on one’s toes ‘going a fair old lick’. Not sure we will make it before it gets dark. Or, even if ‘our space’ will be free. Have to see if luck(s) is (are) on our side.


Bart & crew salute one of the navvies who dug this & all our country’s other Wonderful Canals.


We finally cruise by Heatons Bridge & onto our favoured berth near Drummersdale. Starting to get dark now. Amazed we actually came this far. Lister & old Prop really pulled out all the stops. Toes crossed as we creep round the last (hopefully) corner of today’s cruise. There is another boat there, but still room for Bart without crowding them. Same position as before. FANTASTIC !!  We like it here. We don’t mind sharing this time. Course we don’t.

Friday 8th July      Our neighbours had moved to this short straight we like soo much when moored nearby last time. We had chatted when they be walking by one day. Saw how good it were & moved ‘up’ ‘ere while we’d been away. Sneaky. Luckily they’d saved us ‘our’ space & warned udders off.


A grey old day this day it be. We stay ‘ere. We watch some marvellous tennis at Wimbledon. Semi-finals. ‘Poor old’ Roger is knocked out. Beaten by the big Canadian. Shame, but well done sir. That Scott is through rather convincingly. Hope to watch the final on Sunday. At least we won’t have to struggle, supporting Andy & Roger at the same time.

Saturday 9th July      We are trying to dodge the rain ‘showers’ as Bart escapes those lines & makes for Burscough. Unfortunately Skip gets that one completely wrong. Just off. & it starts raining again. Oh Well !!  Just have to grin & bear it like usual. Two electric swing bridges only delay Bart a wee-while enroute.


& one very old ‘stuck-swung’ bridge that doesn’t.


Very soon the old Turnpike Road leaps over the L&L and Bart creeps under, slowing even moor to a stop. Time to rewater Bart who is a tittle dry. Surprisingly, after all that rain. After quite a while Bart takes a short jaunt & finds a pleasant spot in which to stop. Lovely.

Sunday 10th July      Caio. We are still trying to dry out from yesterday. bit of drip drying. Bit of air drying. It all helps. Off to ‘town’ to restock the old larder cupboard. Things are looking very sad in there. Sorted. Wimbledon. Fantastic !  !!  !!!  Mr. Murray wins his second title. Third Grand Slam. Straight sets. Quite incredible. Didn’t think it was going to quite as straight forward as that. Mr. Raonic were not a competitive as were expected. Although the odd point here, the odd bit of luck there, could have been much moor nervy for all us ‘ere & all those there watching. Well Done Scotty !  !!  !!!

Monday 11th July

Happy Birthday Old Chap. Hope you have a Splendid Day !  !!  !!!

Good Morning one & all (two) (or is it three now) (not sure mate). Anyway, Hello. Yes. There is another birthday in the crew. Seems to be one every week. Mad !!  Lucky we popped to the shops yesterday. We can have some treats now. Yum Yum !!

Roxy goes out (with the parents of course) & has sum write old fun chasing & catching her ball on the local cricket pitch. It’s all right. Don’t fret. She (& we) stayed outside the boundary rope (mostly).

Off to the Hop Vine. Formerly a busy coaching house called ‘The Royal Hotel’, built in 1874. A fine looking establishment with an amazing array of artefacts adorning every wall, every corner inside. & the old stables of the ‘Hop’ houses their own brewery in the cobbled courtyard out back. We enter this public house, having not booked a table. Tis Monday you know. We are surprised to find the bar is busy. Every table in the many separate areas, nooks & crannies are full with ‘punters’ enjoying good looking, yummy smelling food. It turns out ‘this is not busy’ according to the barman. No tables available, but we are booked in & on the list. No hurry. We can wait. Now to find some fine (hopefully) ale. There is a wide range of options capable of satisfying any want from the many pumps lining the bar. We sample one of the ‘Home’ Brew’s ‘Hop Vine’. Light, earthy & Very Tasty ale. Two pints Please barman. We sit by one of the large bar barrels enjoying the local brew. Later, when led to ‘our’ table the difficult process of choosing from the foody delights on offer has to be confronted. Bury black pudding & Squid for starters.

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The micro brewery’s ‘Mere Blonde’ is sampled. Golden nectar. Delish. Two pints please. Beef sizzler with rice, skinny chips & Pulled spicy lamb, naan, rice + side order of large chunky chips (greedy) for main courses. The best hot, spicy ginger pudding with custard ever, to finish.

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& Tia Maria, of course. Delicious Food all the way. Fantastic service. Great place. Quite simply, if you are ever any where near the Hop Vine You Must Go. You are a fool if one does not go there.

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We are the last table of the evening, with just a few peoples


still at the bar as we make our fully tummied walk back to Bart & our Roxy. She is Such a Good Girl.  Lovely Fabulous Evening. Thanks Honey !  !!  !!!

We is back at home enjoying a ‘nice cup of tea’. Buoy does the rain come down. Even with the weather at times in weeks gone by, this was the heaviest. The noise on Bart’s roof was incredible. A while after it finally stops Roxy goes out for a pre-bed wee-wee. The towpath is now like a mini-canal. Darned amazing !!

Tuesday 12th July      Ga’day mate(s). We be recovering from last night’s fill. Maybe tis time to go find some locks & other such exercise devices. After sleeping bad night before last we is making up a bit for this morn. Very unusual in recent days on Bart. Tis warm, but cloudy &


Bart is gliding gently by all the berthed boats lining the cut (as we should call it). Moor busy than when we berthed on Saturday. Just by Ainscough’s Mill Bridge we tread water to allow a fine (oncoming) looking craft through the narrowing by the reeds. Once clear we is moving on through & soon Bart pulls in front of a wide beam into a very tight spot just before the Rufford Arm junction in the short (70′) queue for water. Hardly an inch to spare.


When free, Bart slides forward & water is being sorted.

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The Rufford Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool would be an interesting diversion for nb:Black Bart & Crew to experience but unfortunately they did not make them locks long enough. 62′ be the maximum. Bart being 70′ long just don’t fit mate. Not sure Bart or old Lister could deal with the Ribble link anyway, maybe not such a bad dimensional problem after all. We will never know.

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The old dry dock is sitting there unused & unloved & Rufford is away in the distance, unseen from this vantage point.

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Bart is just aboat visible at the far end, if you look carefully.


Bart, full, finally cruises away

quickly through (a pleasant to use) swing bridge

& passing sum interesting shapes & tings


including the fly-boat ‘Mersey’.

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An-udder swing bridge. A rare Beast in these waters & a pillbox. Quite a common sight along a fair few canals travelled by Bart & crew.


Always amazed at how well the rhubarb grows along these watery highways of our green & pleasant land.

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nb:Black Bart finally reaches Parbold after a very long & trying section of this extremely busy waterway. A Fine mooring position to behold although we do be ‘aving those unpleasant crunching noises below when Bart moves. Oh Well…..

Wednesday 13th July     Parbold is a lovely tittle place. Only 24hr mooring here which is a bit of a (tight) shame.

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Roxy goes for a walk, meeting new (small) friends

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& some moor (large) friends.


Lister is rotating. Bart is readying for ‘the off’. Crew from fine narrowboat berthed in front of our Bart wander over for a good old chitty chat. Aaaarrrggh !!! We be Pirates !! Brave souls. They not be afraid. Always a good test. Don’t want no wusses roand ‘ere. We bid farewells & lines slipped, Bart is on one’s way. After a sharp write(rs) turn & many ‘ers travel through undulating waves of almost wild water



nb:Black Bart & crew finally sight a fine looking berth in the shadow (almost) of Appley Bridge.

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Bart relaxes under eyes of (redundant North track) Appley bottom lock. That fine craft passes on by. Must have been tracking Black Bart. Got to be careful in these dark waters.

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At least those barrels (yes, still there) are full & the roses are blossoming too.

Thursday 14th July      We are not up quite as sharpish as intended but crew are quickly sorted & prepping for a cruise.


Tea is brewed & just being enjoyed. Suddenly a rush of activity as passing narrowboat encourages crew to stop savouring refreshment. Bart is quickly freed & chasing them doin.

As Appley (very) deep lock opens Bart cheekily swishes by & snicks in, just before a weirdly strange monster lands on the roof.


After escaping the creature (& the lock) our timing is perfeck as Finch Mill Swing Bridge is held open for our mini convoy by a most pleasant co-cruiser. Ey, Thankee Sir !!!

Two ‘sleeping’ swing bridges are swam by before Bart co-ascends Dean lock,

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soon we’re Ambushed but due to Bartholomew Roberts pirate-y ruthlessness they is soon plundered.



We is swishing through the (no-moor) Crooke Lock. Ell Meadow & Pagefield Locks lift Bart & Co up into Wigan proper,


by those burley Warriors & soonly chugging ‘quietly’ past Wigan Pier.


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Bart swishes roand & under Pottery Road Bridge, Trencherfield Mill before climbing through Bottom Lock, rising to the dry dock before crew & Bart rest (only briefly) for refreshment. Fools !!


That green narrowboat. Again. Didn’t know they were still aroand. Sneakily tracking our Lovely Bart. We gulp down the last of our drinks &


quickly burst forward. No good. Too Late. Sneaky what-sits.


They ‘as already charged into Henhurst Lock. Swines. Black Bart hasn’t been out-manoeuvred like that before. Not for a while anyway. Bart now has to wait. Some people. Just cos they got a lovely boat. Eh !!

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Finally. Int’lock & ‘up’ we go. Tis one has handles to wind the lower gate open/closed instead of the moor common heave-on-it technology al-la upper gates, that we be much moor used to.


Bart departs the water lift & crouches doin tight to squeeze under the low pipe/services ‘bridge’ & the Leigh Branch junction walkies bridge.

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Crew & craft have been beaten into the waters of the Leigh Branch by two more floating steel homes that must of crept doin from up high (sum-wear like Leeds mayhaps) via the Wigan flight. Said two (fl)(b)oaters are waiting for Poolstock upper lock. The pound doin there, between top & bottom locks is sum-wot dry. Alright, not completely dry but wee bit shallow. This is obviously a regular event in these ‘ere parts. Others met in past weeks have experienced watery or should that be waterless problems enroute through Wigan, as Bart did a few weeks ago. The long waterless wait is over & Bart is gliding beautifully into top lock. An-udder Wigan flight boat has arrived. We wait in the lock for them to clear a mass of rope wound round their prop. They are now safe to proceed & thus join Bart in the water chamber. We is going doin now. Aye Aye Skipper.  Aaaarrrggh !!  Skippet has magic-ed extra H2O into the pound below with clever ground paddle tweakings. Boats descend gently & are off, into the curvy pound, We crawl slowly through the pound maintaining the central line (arc) (it is a curvy trough). Safe passage is made, into bottom lock. Back together, upper gates closed & ‘chill’. Lowered the final time. For a few miles at least. Mayhaps moor, depending in which direction Bart veers at the next junction in.

We pass the now re-berthed tittle two legged amphibious green lock companion who shared the rises during our delightful & interesting Wigan approach of this morning & early afternoon. Goodbye tittle froglets.


nb:Black Bart ‘makes hay’ now heading towards our final destination on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. That destination being Leigh. We pass Scotsman’s, Ochre & Bryn Flashes amongst others as we now cruise the Leigh Branch of the L&L. That sky remains blue with varying degrees of cloud cover as has been for most of the day so far. Tis Lovely & Warm. As Bart approaches Abram the remnants of the two Dover Locks remind us of their past life. No gates or paddles remain. They are long gone. The two chamber’s stonework stands firm though. Level changes in this part of our world have played havoc with the canal engineer’s talents. The Flashes are just one sign of the coal industry’s long term effects on the landscape for miles, in all directions.


We arrive at Plank Lane Lift Bridge. It’s ‘that’ boat again. Blocking our watery path, they be. Bart’s lines are secured & we goes to find out “what on earth is going on”. The clock tell’s all it be five & forty five minutes. Us boaty peoples are not allowed to operate the bridge between five & six. That’s OK. Hard luck if it ain’t mate !!!


Bart & new friend (who shall be named ‘Tug’ for the purposes of this ‘ere Bart World) are let loose. Plank Lane is raised & two classy narrowboats pass safely through. Under some might say. Thanks Tug’s crew for organising the lifting.


Bart ‘steams’ on by enroute to find a berth for the night. Tis has been our longest day’s cruise for some weeks. Really tired is we crew.


Back Bart & Tug have arrived. We be at Pennington Flash again. Fantastic place to moor. A steady flow of walkers, doggers, cyclists, joggers & other types of persons float on by during the evening. Crew of Tug ‘pop’ over for drinks & meety chitty chat. Although we actually successfully completed phase 1 back at Parbold yesterday. Only yesterday. Mad. Seem like ages ago. Fantastic ‘Tug’ boat. Lovely peoples. Gorgeous tittle doggies. A strange construction is assembled (for the first time history must note). A fire-rey hot gaseous beast. Gammons & steaks are cooked beautifully. Mighty fine. Bart helps with delish new (hot) potatoes & (cold) salad. A fine feast is had by all. Tea & carrot cake to finish. FAB !!  A very late night. Tis comfortably int’ early ‘ers before all have to admit defeat & retire. Thankyou to ‘you know who’ for a marvellous evening. In fact it were simply – Belting. Cracking (Gromit).

Friday 15th July      Good Morning everybody…… Late start to festivities today. Unfortunately ‘Tug; & crew of two + two are off cruising. Need to return to base.



Roxy barks & wags her big wacker thwacker tail (or is that tale) (who knows) (not me)  to say chow for now.


Hopefully see you all again one day. HAPPY CRUISING……..

The weather of yesterday were Grand !!  Today is be overcast. Then is starts raining. & it doesn’t stop much most of the day. Sorry guys. hope your cruise isn’t too soggy. Although we know from first hand experience, it certainly were. Bart & crew hunker doin for the day.


Saturday 16th July      Ciao. It be mildly moist outside. Slowly, air drying is taking hold and Crew venture for some lovely cool fresh air.

It’s almost becoming quite pleasant as we take a walk with our Roxy, trying to find our way roand the delightful waters that be Pennington Flash. If only the map board had been there at the start, & not the end of our circumnavigation. The path were very muddy & boggy, particularly through the northern perimeter. We end up traversing roads to the West of the flash instead of the path that keeps walkers close, but that was fine, cause we see’s lovely horses, sheep, udder critters & beautiful flers.

Many a sailing craft is out swishing this way & that. Tacking or summit anyway.







Almost hidden from view.


Fantastic Walk. Thanks Crew.



Bart is very happy to see the crew slowly appear over the horizon.


This canal is so healthy. Although it has to be said the wildlife is taking over. Slow down helmsman. Can-nee see a way through Cap’n. Aaaarrrggghhh !  !!  !!!


Sunday 17th July      Skippet has leapt out of bed early this morning. Very early it has to be recorded. Silly O’clock.


IronMan (& woman) competition starts at 6.00am. hundreds of swimmers plunging into Pennington Flash. Major fit peoples demonstrating their prowess. & this is only the start. After their water gliding there be miles & miles of cycling & then the ‘fools’ going running too. MAD !!!   But Very Impressive.

Skip couldn’t contemplate arising at such a time so kept the sleepy Bart & Roxy company. After all that exercise (by others admittedly)


crew is feeling ‘ungry now. Four Fabulous eggs. Yes (your eye don’t deceive you) two be green. The yokes are magnificent & not green. Large & wholesome yokes at that.  Absolutely Delicious. Muchly Thanks go to Cap’ns I&M Ted. You a STARS….

Herbie has been gently warming the calorifier water to a ‘very hot’ grade on the temperature scale. Skippet has a luxurious shower. Far moor delightful aromatic air roand ‘ere now mate. Skip is next. Much fresher. Was almost to the point of unpleasant. Just as the final douching is taking place. Oh Dear !! We have a problem. Shower suddenly not working. The water stops flowing. Luckily the suds have just been flushed off the skin covering. Dried & suitably attired, Skip begins investigation. Water tank half full. Water pump fuse OK. 13dcv at water pump. Pump not work. Pump dead. Cuss cuss. Curse.

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Luckily we have a spare (old) pump. Pumps have previously been switched roand when ‘we had a leak’ some time ago. Time to try & re-instate that one again. Dead pump, associated accumulator tank & local pipework is removed. Isolation ‘taps’ both ends of this assembly makes for easier process. After removing the heads of the now dead pump & the previously leaky (spare) pump to clean & investigate further all appears, visually at least OK. Time to try one’s luck. Spare pump & udder bits&bobs are re-assembled ‘on site’, including ptfe tape on inlet & outlet pump ports, connected to the ‘power’ & tested. Operation is successful. The pump makes a noise & water is flowing again from all taps & shower heads. (Singular) head actually. We only have the one shower. Not greedy ‘ere on Bart peoples. Close inspection of pump unit & surrounding connections recently ‘played with’ makes initially dry fingers moist. Mildly Moist sum might even suggest. Oh Well. Removed & take it all apart again. Clean it up mate, dry out out mate, re-assemblied & re-instated in the pump room (as we shall now call it) again. The pump head is showing signs of distortion local to one screw position. Not much material there to partake of compression by fixing screw. Thumbs crossed. Pipework, fittings, electrics, you all k-no-w the ‘drill’ now folks. Testing procedure commences. Sounds good. Getting wet from the faucets & such. Getting wet under the pump too. Cuss cuss. etc.. etc…..  We have a regular drip drip drip now. LOVELY !!!  All out again. The pump head to pump body dry seal design is failing. OK. There are no pump suppliers roand the corner so-to-speak so time to bring out the gunky gunk. Plumbers Mate matey. Carefully applied to recessed/stepped tri-curvy shaped plastic mouldings. Screwed back together. Usual pump room works take place AGAIN. Fingers & toes crossed. Makes walking to the engine room to switch the pump’s ‘power’ feed on (fused switch for those that didy-not-no) a bit awkward. Nearly fell over. Could have hurt oneself. Could have been quite nasty. Advise – don’t cross your toes if you want to safely negotiate your way along & through a long narrowboat. Maybe even when it’s only a short narrowboat. Safety Notice – Don’t do it. Anyway, ‘Back to the now’. We have power. We have water flow. Fingers go investigating pump’s k-nooks & crannies. For the mo, we also seem to have a dry pump room.

Yippee !!!!!!!!!

Time to relax…….

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Crew is ‘ungry again. This is ridiculous. It must be a foody sort of day. Where’s my dinner Roxy wants to know.


OK girl. Patience. Your Lamb Steak & Cumberland Sausages are on the barbeque now so stop whinging. After a few delays dinner is eventually served. Lovely New-pots & fresh crunchy salad-o. Truly Scrumptious !!


Wonderful views moored here.


Love it.

Monday 18th July      Pennington Flash is a most wonderful place to visit. Bart has slumbered in this fine position for ages now & is finally awakening. Time to move on we thinks. Lister turns over & we the crew of three are almost regretfully ‘escaping’. Less than an ‘er & we cruise into Leigh. one, not ideal berth is available. Bricks & tings in the canal effect Bart’s ability to get in close to the bank, but we manage to secure the lines. Provisions is what we is needing. Provisions is what we acquire through mostly legal means. Even the Chinese delicacy pigs ears is requisitioned for Roxy. Our Girl Loves pigs ears. Anything she wants !!  She is Such a Good Girl. Late Lunch is served after all those goodies have been hidden away in the bowels. Hope we can find them again when we is ‘ungry. Hope is all we ‘ave mate(s). Ship mate(s). Narrowboat-mate(s) to be moor exact. Tis 4.00pm Bart breaks out from the shallow, almost treacherous but virtually clear waters, making for safer ripples. Bart is soon cruising through, under Leigh Bridge into the old waters of the Bridgewater Canal. See you all there later. Ciao for now…..



Black Bart has cruised North to Scarisbrick & then East to Wigan & finally to the waters meeting/Junction with the Bridgewater Canal to Leigh, swimming 42 miles of the swingingly weedy Leeds & Liverpool Canal, gliding over 15 strange channels called aqueducts, creeping through a few cuttings, sailing along an occasional embankment, passing under 92 ‘fixed’ bridges, swishing by 18 swung bridges & tandeming under 1 lift bridge. 

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