Monday, 4 August 2014

A shorter day than expected - to a lock that isn't there

(Boat Chalice - text by Cath, completed by Alan) 
Retrospective post for Monday 4th August.

These unusualmodern buildings seemed to be housing rather than office space.
With the need to put in quite long days we set off early, with the intention of putting in a lot of miles. However, some time during the morning I persuaded Alan to go and ask questions on Canal World Discussion Forums about safe moorings near Wigan, and where sensible overnight moorings on the Leeds and Liverpool would be on our journey. The firm answer was don't moor too near Wigan, but somewhere like the Dover Lock Inn - about 3 miles from the bottom of the Wigan flight.

We knew that we would need to cross the Barton Swing Aqueduct, which crosses the Manchester Ship Canal, but we were lucky enough to find it closed when we arrived. We were told that they would be swinging the caisson soon, for the 'Mersey Ferry' to go through. There was remarkably little leakage from the canal, or the caisson, once swung.

Barton swing aqueduct being opened

Fully open

Then the road bridge is opened

"Snowdrop" passes surprisingly fast.

Having passed the swung aqueduct it then passes equivalent road bridge.

Once swung back, the gates that seal the aqueduct are opened by hand cranking.

Followed by the gates that seal the canal

Chalice is finally able to cross the Manchester Ship Canal

There is something curiously continental about the trip since we got onto the Bridgewater canal. Some of the canal side houses look distinctly Mediterranean, some of the bars and taverns could be lifted from France, and the lift bridge at Plank Lane looked like it was from the Netherlands. The canal is lifted about the surrounding land - a result of mining subsidence, with the canal being built up with pit waste. Much of the land around is wet, with many large 'flashes', but the scrubby vegetation also adds to the continental appearance of this landscape.

Not strictly the birthplace of English canals, but often said to be.
We found out from Canal World Forum that  Derek and Pam were also planning to go up the Wigan flight on Tuesday morning, and would also be mooring at the Dover Lock, so, despite this being a shorter day than we had anticipated we stopped early. We got to Dover Lock, to find that there was, in fact, no lock there. The locks had been moved nearer to Wigan at some time in the past, due to subsidence caused by mining. In the late afternoon sunshine Derek from nb Free Time sat down with us and went through our planned journey, suggesting places to stop, and other places to avoid.

Plank Lane bridge - scope for creating large traffic queues!
Alan and I investigated the pub. 'Food every day' declared the notice outside, but a banner also said 'Under New Management'.  Alan asked about food.

"We aren't doing any at the moment, we are under new management."
"But it says outside that you are."
"No it doesn't."
"Yes," replied Alan, "it does."
"Oh, well, it shouldn't."

The music was loud - it was to my taste, but too loud - the beer was not 'real'. We didn't stay.

After a pleasant walk with Odin we got off to bed early, with the alarms set for 6 am.

Little Bollington to Dover Lock Inn (Bridgewater Canal)
Miles: 22.5 (Chalice), 0 (Sickle), Locks: 0

Total Miles: 431.5, Locks: 200

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