Wednesday, 8 April 2015

There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much 

worth doing as simply messing about in boats

After a thoroughly enjoyable day at the boat gathering, it was nice to look forward to spending three days simply messing around on our own boat. We awoke to a beautiful spring morning, much improved from the previous day and congratulated ourselves on good planning. Our goal today would be to go back up the seven locks of the Rufford Branch and then, well probably go to the pub to be honest. We achieved this with flying colours. At the first lock we were joined by a number of interested gongoozlers who asked the usual questions, 'do you live on it?', 'is it cold?', 'would you recommend it?'. Answers, 'yes', 'no', 'yes'. Tatty bye....

Is it cold on your boat? Only if we don't put the heating on.....

On leaving this first lock we were fortunate enough to team up with another couple on a narrowboat and this made light work of the next six. Its so much faster when there is an extra pair of hands. On the last three, which are close together, I could go ahead and set the lock ready while crew number two could attend to the boats coming up.  The photo below was taken just after the boat got grounded waiting behind our travelling companions for a wide beam coming down the lock, as there is only a very short lock landing. Add to that the wind coming across, it made it hard for Mr F to get Merv off the bank, for when he got the stern in deep water the front end kept being blown back across to the bank. The chap off the other boat was helpful and used our long pole to keep the front end away long enough to get some momentum going. The draft on this boat is a lot deeper than our other (meaning more boat in the water) and we have found this quite a common occurrence (especially as in some places the bottom is closer to the top!).  

Watching the boats come up while I prepare the next lock

A natter in the lock before we parted company

After the top lock there is a junction where the branch meets the Leeds Liverpool canal main line and from here we were turning right and the other boat turning left, so we said our farewells and 'maybe see you soons' and emerged under the bridge and pointed the boat towards the Liverpool end of the canal.

While it was a sunny day we thought we'd get the barrel out

Burscough bound, our home for the night

We were treated to a beautiful sunset. Then we went to the pub

Sunday started promising enough weather wise and we also had the promise of visitors and visiting en route. We were aiming to go as far as Haskayne which is further than we have ventured before down this end. It is a bit too far for our commute to work so this weekend was a perfect opportunity to explore with enough time to come back. Our plan was to stop at Scarisbrick marina where we have a friend and for a work colleague to also meet us for a nosey at Mervyn. As we approached the marina our guests had walked up to meet us so had the chance to hop on the tug deck and travel a little way with us. The customary boat tour was granted and then they went off in search of fish and chips after some pub recommendations from us. (We are good at this).  Next stop was to call in on our boat friend who we haven't seen for a while and upon seeing us she declared that she was taking us to Southport for the best fish and chips anywhere. We didn't decline. We squeezed into her little mini (not the most practical car for a boater with a husky for company but it is rather nice) and sped off to the coast. As soon as we arrived we noticed the mist rolling in from the sea, as the song says. The chippy had an eat in area that was sufficiently old fashioned as to be nostalgic for childhood trips to the seaside and the food was indeed delicious. On the way back we resolved that as time had rather got the better of us, we would just carry on a little further up the cut and stop at the first pub about a mile away at Halsall. (Convenient). We said our third farewells of the day and pottered off into the evening mist.

It was quite atmospheric travelling into the mist with nothing but farmland to either side

There were fields of cabbages as we passed through and they were rather potent....

I think I see land ahead cap'n

Perfect rural mooring, the silence was deafening

Interestingly, this is the bridge where the first cut was made of this section of canal.
Halsall is where the first sod was ceremonially dug (on 5 November 1770, by the Hon. Charles Mordaunt of Halsall Hall) for the commencement of the Leeds Liverpool canal.
A sculpture, the Halsall Navvy, just across the bridge from the Saracen's Head pub now commemorates this. 

A slight mist still hung in the air the following Monday morning as we carried on our way to the winding hole to turn round. We decided to complete our journey to Haskayne and turn there even though there was a winding hole just past the pub. We had all day and it was only a couple of hours back to Burscough where we would stay for the rest of the week.

Coots were nesting all along the canal

The obligatory 'prop foul' stopped us for a little while but Mr F dealt with it promptly. He gets all the good jobs. (Note: we put this in a bin bag and took it to the rubbish disposal point at Burscough as opposed to leaving it to get blown back in the water like so many others seem to do)

This was a particularly lovely green 'corridor' with moss growing on the stones on the bank

Once again, as the evening descended, so did the mist. 
Another fabulous weekend boating and proof, if ever it was needed,  
that there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing 
as simply messing about in boats.

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