Thursday, August 11, 2016

Musings and more

The Leeds and Liverpool is a strange canal, it has to be said. At least, the Liverpool arm that we're on. From the Leeds junction at Wigan to the Rufford Arm is 10 miles. I believe that the Rufford Arm is fairly quiet. It leads north to the Ribble Link, a crossing over the estuary of the River Ribble to the bottom of the Lancaster Canal, a trip that many might consider a little too “adventurous”. (The jury is out on this on board Kantara.)

From the Rufford junction to Liverpool is 24 another miles. Anyone on this stretch is either on their way in to Liverpool or on their way out. Or possibly going to or from the Scarisbrick Marina. Because of these factors, very few boats travel these 34 miles. We've travelled for hours most days without seeing single boat on the move. It's like the canal version of a ghost town.

And it feels a very neglected canal, too. Far too many locks are faulty one way or another. “CRT aware – 2014” notices are too common. Services are few and far between, and several of those leave much to be desired. If the battle against Himalayan Balsam has ever been engaged here, it has most certainly been lost.

Large masses of this plant - Mash Marigold? - float across
the canal in places, obstructing the passage of boats
It's a great shame. The problem is, of course, that CRT simply have too many problems to deal with around the system, and too little money and staff to solve them with. There's only so much they can do at a time, and prioritizing must be a nightmare.

The greater shame is the whingers who bang on and on about some issue on “their” part of the system, apparently not realizing that theirs is not the only issue that CRT would love to be able to put right immediately, but simply don't have the resources to do so. Thank God for the thousands of CRT staff and volunteers who put in so many hours between them, working to put things right. I don't envy CRT their job.


We left Hoscar at around noon on Tuesday, having bought lots of food and some very good, inexpensive wine, from Taylor's Farm Shop. It was silly windy again, giving Grace particular problems with controlling the boat. Particularly when, having pulled over to the towing-path to let me get off to deal with a swing-bridge (of which there were several that day), it was hard to pull away again against the wind, and get the right angle of approach to the open bridge. The same kind of problem had to be faced again the other side of said bridge when she had to side up for me to get back on. The wind blew strongly from the towing-path for most of the day.
We have no idea what this structure is - a Viking house??

Ancient, sail-less windmill in Parbold 
Any idea what this signifies?
At one swing-bridge where I had to close the road barriers manually before the bridge would open under motor power, I closed one barrier, and turned to find that a car had driven onto the bridge against the traffic lights from the other side where the barrier was still up.

“Let me over, I'm in a hurry!”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Put the barrier up, I need to get across!”

I had it in mind to leave him where he was, close the barrier behind him and swing the bridge open with him on it. But that would probably have been in contravention of the law, and I couldn't be sure that the bridge would open with his weight on it, anyway.

“You're in a hurry? I'm sorry, I don't know what hurry is.”

I walked slowly to the offending barrier, and opened it without hurry, smiling at the driver as he speeded off.

“You're very welcome!”, I said to his speechless departure.

We lunched after Appley Locks, and moored for the night at Crooke, on the first bit of Armco we'd seen for ages!


  1. A photo of the wayward driver being swung around on the bridge would have been priceless.

    1. Yes, Phil! I regretted NOT doing it all day! :-(

  2. I've just been catching up with your blog...goodness, you are prolific :) I've so enjoyed your journey along the Leeds/Liverpool that it's sad to hear so much of it is neglected and in need of repair. Perhaps you could start a campaign, or crowd funding or something to get some investment in it? I'm being selfish of course. I want it still to be usable in a few years' time when we might finally get there! I hope the Weil's disease escapes you. That sounds alarming, although it must be quite rare? Hoping the wind has died down for you a bit now. Go well!

    1. You're right, Val, it's sad, but it's still well worth a visit, and a must if you're going to Liverpool, of course!

      I'm Weils-free, thanks. It IS rare, but it still claims lives each year, so it has to be taken seriously.