Thursday 6th July
Thursday lunchtime we took a short trip down to Liverpool Marina to use their pump out facilities, a sailing school had dinghies out in force but they were well supervised by two crews in inflatables who made sure they didn’t get into trouble. It was still quite windy which made it interesting getting off of their service pontoon as there was a large coaster which we had to reverse around but we made it with no contact then Wrens-Nest enjoyed ‘speeding’ through the relatively deep (and by then empty) waters of the docks at over 5 mph to get back to our mooring and reverse into it successfully first time. I also delved down the weed hatch in the clear waters of the dock and shortened the ends of the split pin which secures the propeller’s nut in the hope that it would make it less susceptible to hooking debris.
Friday 7th July
There were only three boats leaving, but the C&RT paperwork showed five; however the lads soon figured out that it was an error and that the missing two boats were actually on the list of those coming into the docks that day as well!
So we were soon on our way in brilliant sunshine, a bonus was we were able to re-photograph some of the sights in better weather conditions. By the time our little convoy had reached the four Stanley Locks the guys were there waiting to lock us through and we had a good run up to Litherland Services where we picked up a load of rubbish on the propeller just as we moored up to wait to go through the first swing bridge.
The next two swing bridges are done for us as they are busy roads, we were the first to arrive so moored up to wait for the team, but Catty thought this was an opportunity to stretch her legs and disappeared into the hedge for an hour and a half!!! We moved the boat through the bridge while we waited but by the time we reached the last bridge we had missed the time slot so had to wait there until 9:30 in the morning when the incoming boats were coming through.
Saturday 8th July
We were first through the bridge in the morning and we had a clear run through the five swing bridges with minimum delay and pressed on to Halsall where we stopped for the night along with a contingent from one of the local boat clubs who were having a barbeque.
Sunday 9th July
We had an early finish at Parbold where we revisited Parbold Tandoori Takeaway for our evening meal.
Monday 10th July
It was an early start for us at 7:30 as we were to meet Derek on Ambush at 10am, however on reaching Appley Lock one of C&RT’s staff warned us that the water was low in the next pound and to stay in the middle! This worked OK although it made accessing the next swing bridge awkward, but we reached Dean Lock OK only to find a cruiser on one lock mooring and a widebeam on the other side which had been there since we came down over a fortnight ago. The consequence was that we tried to moor on some piling and got well and truly aground. The cruiser went on through the lock and left us to it and it was only by letting another lock-full of water down that we were able to get off and continue on our way. Fortunately we were able to contact Derek and he waited for us to arrive and top up our fuel tank, what a nice guy. “Back in 1978, at the end of eastbound commercial traffic out of Liverpool, Derek skippered the last loaded grain barge from Stanley Dock to Trafford Park in Manchester”
The water level was back to normal from here onwards but it was hard going working the heavy locks on our own . On reaching Wigan Bottom lock I could not get the level right and open the bottom gates as a top ground paddle was leaking so resorted to pushing the gate open with the boat. I managed to close the paddle properly as we left, so hopefully the next boat didn’t have so much trouble.
We had intended to stop at Wigan overnight but after a quick snack we decided to turn down the Leigh Arm and get the final three locks done. At the very last lock we met our first boats coming the other way who gave us some help, from there on it was an easy hour’s run to the Dover Locks Inn where we moored up, had showers and treated ourselves to an evening meal at the pub, simple home cooked food. The pub looks a bit run down but a sign declares it under new management, it was staffed by two young ladies, perhaps in their late twenties, so we hope they are successful in their venture. It was a very early night for us but we can look forward to an easy day on Wednesday.