After spending a week at Burscough it was time to get the waste tank emptied, so on a sunny Saturday we headed off in the direction of Scarisbrick Marina. Leaving Burscough, passing the wharf and dumb boat Viktoria outside the chandlers. We decided not to phone ahead as this tactic hasn't paid off in the past, being told that there is no one available. When we turned up on spec they have (sometimes begrudgingly) obliged. Our neighbour for the past week, Dev, was working that day so couldn't join us for the cruise but planned to do the same journey a few days later. He asked us to make note of the swing bridge landings as he would be single handing. Unless you actually have to operate one (on your own or for someone), it probably isn't immediately apparent that you need to be able to moor on the same side as the control box or the side you push if a manual one. If you had to cross the bridge to open it you would have to swim back across to retrieve your boat - not advised! Most are situated on the opposite side from the towpath, the 'offside'. Not all swing bridges have a 'bridge landing' on the offside which can mean mooring against overgrown hedgerows, having nowhere to tie the boat up and clambering over fences. There are two key operated bridges on the way to Scarisbrick and luckily, we could report both are easy to use for lone boaters.
Approaching the marina there is a long line of moored boats which is Mersey Cruising Club. They have their own waste pump out housed in a small building at the end. Once we spoke to some boaters who said they had used this but despite a couple of phone calls I have previously been unable to pin anyone down. A we passed two ladies painting one of the moored boats I thought 'here's my opportunity!' A quick shout from them to a chap further down and in five minutes we were at the pump out station having a chin wag. I even managed to get his mobile for next time and they were cheaper. All the money goes back into the club too so we will definitely patronise them again
Once through both swing bridges it is a fairly rural stretch of canal
Obviously this bridge is left open
Looking back towards Burscough with Winter Hill in the far distance
This lovely Barry Hawkins boat always gets our attention
On the return trip, the swing bridges are close enough to walk between
Viktoria at home opposite the wharf
Back in our mooring spot at Burscough for another week
Looking back towards Burscough Bridge, there have been plenty boats coming and going
Back with our neighbour, lovely still water in the early morning
Beautiful sunset reflected in the water
The following weekend our two week stay was up and our plan was to head back to Crooke for a week. This time we had company, Dev in William's Wish. Apparently he is always being asked if he is William or people just assume he is and start calling him that. It happens to us with the boat having Kennet & Avon sign written on it, cue lots of comments of 'You're a long way from home!' Like Dev, we sometimes don't correct them!
Stopping for water just five minutes up the cut we saw a couple that, in a strange coincidence, we had met there exactly two weeks ago as we filled the tank. His first words were 'Are you still here?!', I said, 'Yes, I think there must be a hole in the bottom'. They had a boat up on the Lancaster and had been boating for years but didn't get out as much so they came for regular walks along the various canals. It's hard to stay away.
Glovers Swing Bridge number 33
The brightly decorated barrel and Buckby can looked great in the sunshine
As previously spotted, work seems to be progressing on this Liverpool short boat
Late summer chicks keeping close to mum
Spencer's Swing Bridge number 36 heading towards Parbold
Lookig down the disused arm at Appley deep lock where two shallower locks drop a level of 6 feet each. They were built to ease congestion but are now abandoned. They were apparently restored in the 1980's but fell into disrepair again due to lack of use. The original deep lock has a 12 foot fall and is the one currently in use.
Little and large heading into Appley deep lock
Having a chat, this could take a while....
Getting there, with one ground paddle out of action it's even slower
Beautiful views to the west towards Ashurst Beacon
Final lock of the day at Gathurst, Dean Lock also has a now abandoned second lock on this once very busy transport network
The lovely last half mile of wooded banks as we approach Crooke Village and our mooring outside the Crooke Hall Inn and a nice welcome from the lady who sent a message to say
'Nice familiar view from my window, welcome back!'