When you live on a boat, plans are always susceptible to change. That's not necessarily a bad thing! Intending to stay on our winter mooring while we visited family and friends for the festivities would leave us about five days free to travel, being back at the mooring for a New Year's Eve party. What actually happened was much better. Travelling to the pump out at Scarisbrick earlier in the week leading up to Christmas had placed us where we had intended to travel to, all we had to do now was slowly make our way back and over a longer period of time. It was so nice at Heaton's Bridge that we stayed for a few days. This proved to be a very good move. When the floods came on Boxing Day we were hardly affected, whereas our home mooring flooded along with a couple of other places that we could have been if we had stuck to our original plans. The first good (dry) day, we fired up the Gardner and slowly wound our way through the farmland either side, back cabin stove lit, kettle on.
The calm after the storm, so to speak
Mervyn decorated for Christmas
The back cabin get's festive for travelling (and tea drinking)
Minding our own business, the thudding of the vintage engine in our ears, we were suddenly aware of something behind us - a lone canoe and a larger boat carrying twelve rowers plus a lady at the stern using a paddle to steer. They cut an impressive sight, rowing in perfect time whilst they slid by us with a chorus of 'good morning!'
They're behind you!
We knocked off the revs to let them overtake
The engine always sounds good going through a bridge hole
Gliding through the water
Winter Hill in the far distance
When we reached the first swing bridge we were greeted by the rowers in the process of pushing the boat under the bridge by hanging on the side. They had all had to dismount, then half of then disappeared into the nearby pub to use the loo, then they all had to get back in the boat....The lady in charge kept doing a head count as I waited to operate the bridge while Martin floated around in the cut waiting. It took ages. The next bridge wasn't far so I offered to open it for them if they waited for us to avoid going through the rigmarole again. They were very grateful!
Topping up with water at Burscough Wharf
Passing the Rufford Branch
Looks like a painting
Lawnmower man has his winter kit on!
Mr F wrapped up in the winter sun
Festive little boat
Gongoozler at the Ship Inn swing bridge
Rounding the corner towards Parbold
Last swing bridge of the day in the beautiful blue skies
It was about here that we started to notice signs of just how much flooding had taken place. The field to our left looked like a lake and on the right where the bank is high a huge chunk of earth had collapsed into the canal, narrowing the channel. We saw a fellow boater walking his dog on the towpath and he reported that the water had been so high it had been flowing over the towpath and down to the houses that are (unfortunately) low lying. To add insult to injury the river (that runs under the canal just further up) had also risen so high that the houses had been flooded from two sides.
Lake of water in the fields
Luckily we spotted the huge mound of earth poking up, wouldn't have wanted to hit it!
Home for the night
Lovely reflections on the water
Looking down to the river from the towpath, the water was still quite high
Lovely mooring spot, a favourite of ours
A nice hearty bowl of soup to end a good day's boating