Friday 15th July to Monday 18th July 2016
Apologies to our blog followers but have been a little recalcitrant in our postings. When you have additional people to be mindful of your usual routine becomes disrupted.
Let’s start with the usual topic of the weather over the last four days. One can only but say that it has been slowly improving. Yesterday was our first day without real rain and today we awoke to drizzle to end up with a scorcher of 24 degrees. One kinda melts under that scenario when one is not use to it BUT in no way are we complaining.
As to our course over the last four days. It has not been what you would call pleasant as we have gone through some decidedly seedy areas along with the canal being clogged with weeds that required us to frequently clear out the prop.
The towns we have been chucking through have been Burnley which does have one of the seven wonders of the canals. It is called the “embankment” but it is difficult to capture a good photo of it so we will give you some stats on it to hopefully give you some indication of it’s significance. Firstly it carries the Leeds and Liverpool canal across the Calder and Brun valley. It is sixty feet high and three quarters of a mile long.
We stopped the boat to pull out a huge amount of plastic from the prop and took the opportunity to take a photo. Alas, it does not do it credence so I pilfered a google picture of it. It really looks uninviting but it does give you some idea of the scale of it.
This picture may be of some interest as it shows the rows of housing that we were viewing from the boat. As it was a miserable day regarding the weather it made this scene even more bleak. One can only imagine what it would have been like during the industrial revolution with coal spewing from the factories and children as young as the age of 8 working 84 hour weeks in the mills.
We chugged through many miles of suburbia with evidence of neglect to the canal by the locals. There was indeed a lot of debris in the water. One big milestone of note was the fact that we passed the half way mark of the Leeds and Liverpool canal.
When then went through the city of Blackburn and as much as Burnley was dull and uninviting Blackburn was definitely the worst we have experienced on the canal system. You need to remember that when these canals were built they went through depressed areas and though many areas have been gentrified there are still areas that leave a lot to be desired. We did feel bad for our guests as we know everyone is looking for that quintessential English country experience which is not this section of the canal anyhow. Oh well, as they say, shit happens.
Then things turned around for us in a big way. Firstly the weather improved out of sight and out came the sunscreen lotion big time. We then went into some beautiful countryside where we went through those quintessential English villages.
Mapes on the towpath checking out if there was any chance of a treat.
We have gone through two sets of six locks in the last two days and with our additional crew it has been an absolute breeze. Our lock slaves are now well trained in readiness to do the Wigan 21 lock flight in a couple of days, unless of course they decide to jump ship by then.
We have continued to shadow M+W as our aim is to continue to Liverpool together and also to do the Wigan flight together. They pick up W’s brother tomorrow so if all goes well we will have six people on the locks which should be most helpful.
We loved the fact that this farmer allowed his horses to cruise over this bridge and we think they were hanging out for a carrot.
M+W had introduced us to a TV documentary that was done by a German company promoting the canals of England. They centered their story around a 69 year old gentleman who had been cruising the Leeds and Liverpool for many years. We just happened to bump into him and he was the most delightful character. Alas though he had his boat up for sale as he says he isn’t finding it any easier as each year goes by. We spent a bit of time having a good natter with him and soaking in as much of the history of the canal as we could. If he was a seaman you would call him an old “Salty” – as to what you would call him from the canals, we think it might be an old “boatman”.
Will try to post more frequently as time permits.