Friday, August 12, 2016

On to Plank Lane (broken) Bridge


The flipping alarm woke us at 6:00 this morning! OK, I had set it for that, but that's no excuse! We left at 7:15, giving ourselves more than enough time to get to Plank Lane Bridge before 2:00pm. There was no knowing what might happen to delay us, and we really didn't want to risk missing today's bridge opening, and have to wait until Friday for the next.

Our first delay was at the first lock, just 15 minutes after we'd set out! I'd forgotten that this lock is padlocked closed between 8:00pm and 8:00am each day through the summer months (whatever they are!), to “preserve water” (CRT).

So we made hot drinks, and sat back and enjoyed them until the CRT man arrived and unlocked the paddle mechanisms.

Five more locks followed, and, as I said on our way in to Liverpool, these must be the worst locks on the system. There are broken paddles that can't be opened, and heavy gates that either wouldn't open more than half way or were extremely heavy and difficult to move. And then there's the total lack of gangplanks across the lock gates, so that you have to use the footbridge – and even a major road bridge in one instance – at one end of the lock to get to the other side. All of these contrived to slow us down considerably. But we'd allowed plenty of time, so that wasn't too big a deal.

We met absolutely no other boats until we got to Plank Lane.
The nicest thing about the canal through Wigan, I have concluded, is the Elsan Disposal point at Henhurst Bridge Lock. Just above Poolstock Locks is a CRT notice promoting the “flashes” which we would encounter over the next few miles. We moored at Pennington Flash and later at Scotman's Flash a few weeks ago, and they're lovely. This sign has “Wigan Flashes” in big letters across the top. Wigan flashes? Flashes?? It doesn't even glimmer!

We arrived at Plank Lane at 12:30, and joined the queue of those waiting for the bridge to be opened. NB Gerty was two boats ahead of us. Boaters stood around, chatting happily, and we joined in. We were all glad the weather was fine.
We had lunch, and were ready to move at 2:00. We we now sixth in a convoy of nine going east through the bridge. Fourteen boats were waiting the other side to go through the other way. By the time we got to the raised bridge, there was a long line of cars waiting on both sides. The convoy was fun. It really looked as if we were all at a canal festival or something similar.

We pulled over for the night at Pennington Flash while the other eight boats carried on.

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