We were woken extremely early this morning because we were next to a waste recycling yard and they started very noisy work at 5.30! Maybe they were early so that they could finish earlier for the holiday. And it was smelly as well. Two boats went past heading for the Wigan flight just before 7.00. We would have jumped up and gone along if there had been one boat; instead we decided to head off to Burscough for a couple of nights.

As we went through the first three locks in Wigan I was slightly regretting that decision. They are very heavy locks and the first above the BW office has a long walk round to access the other side. (I could have done a tightrope act across the top arms but it might have led to a watery end. In my mind I could do it but….)

It was another lovely day and when we reached the Douglas Valley we were glad we had decided to make what will probably be our last trip to Burscough. We went through Dean Lock with a boater who moors at the Douglas Valley CC. We are sure we met up with him last year. He was single handed so I said that as I was walking along the lovely long stretch to the swing bridge (I think from memory it is Finch Hall but it doesn’t give the name in Pearson) I would operate the bridge for both boats. Well, best intentions. I got there, used the key, and raised the lock just as I should, and pushed… and pushed… and pushed. No movement whatsoever. I lifted the lock several times and was sure I was doing the right thing but I couldn’t get it to move an inch. The other boater eventually brought his boat to the side and came to help (Alan had had to take a phone call and was further back). The boater confirmed that I was doing the right thing and that the bridge had been temperamental of late. We both had a go to no avail. Alan then tried to bring Lazydays in to the landing stage but had problems because there was a piece of sharp metal sticking out that he had to avoid. The other chap went over the other side to see if pushing from both ends would help and we moved it an inch or two. Then his boat started blowing back into the stream and while he ran to grab his rope I finally managed to move the bridge. When it had turned a foot or so it was fine but I had really strained my back.

The boats went through and I closed the bridge at as fast a run as I could manage while pushing a heavy swing bridge. Not fast enough because the lock didn’t click. In the end it took both Alan and the other boater’s joint effort at closing it at a run to get the lock to click so we could retrieve our key. As we went on I phoned the Wigan office to report the problem and said that I couldn’t imagine how we could operate it on the return journey if we weren’t with another boater.

After we moored below Appley Bridge to have lunch three other boats passed. They said that it had taken the combined efforts of the three men to operate the bridge (so I did quite well then) and that they had also called BW who said someone was being sent out to look at it.

We finally reached Burscough Junction mid afternoon. Alan turned at the junction and reversed quite a way to a space on the mooring rings with the lovely view over the hills. Now we are all set up to return at the weekend without having to go through the hated spring bridges ahead.

As we travelled near Parbold we noticed a very interesting phenomenon, clouds of insects of some sort up at the top of the trees. They were like ribbons of smoke that changed shape constantly and there were several of them. Does anyone know what they might be?

Wigan Pier

Boats, trains and trucks

A swarm of insects

Today we did 10.64 Miles 6 Locks and 3 Swing Bridges

Statistics so far:-

2478.49 Miles, 1467 Locks, 131 Swing Bridges, 90 Lift Bridges, 43 Tunnels


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