After a busy week we are now moored in the White Bear Marina catching up on jobs and located conveniently close to the train station for yet another trip to London on Monday for an eye check up.
We have been revising plans for the last week on at least a daily basis as we sought to get the timing right to arrive at this marina, get through three flights of locks and 37 miles of canal ,and avoid predicted heavy rains and high wind gusts. It is so much easier when you are just cruising with no deadlines to meet and the ability to just moor up and wait out the poor weather. But we managed it and only got very wet a couple of times but not stranded across the canal by the the wind as has happened before!!!!
Narrowboaters also rely on a combination of chance and the advice of fellow boaters to find safe and pleasant moorings. Fortunately Julia had received some very good advice prior to starting this trip and Bron got some excellent confirmation from Chris last week of appropriate sites and access to shops for top up supplies. Some towns and villages are very safe to moor in and some just aren’t. And sometimes you just get pleasant surprises!!!
After indulging in our delayed cooked breakfast lovingly prepared by Malcolm (usually we have it on Sundays), we made progress on Monday through the Barrowford Locks bound for moorings before bridge 135. We thought to top up with diesel at nearby Reedley Marina and were expecting to find mooring points (bollards or ability to use chains). However out came the mooring pins and we were able to get secure for the night. Just a short hop in the morning and we were able to get diesel, water and Figment availed themselves of the excellent pumpout services. Just one more requirement of living aboard!!!
Then we had a reasonably good run through Burnley to arrive at moorings near Bridge 115A (rated three ticks by our various advisors!!) with beautiful views both ways of farmland, villages and the sites of previous coal mines. We were moored beside Alan who had lived his life on the canals and waterways and had many stories and photos of how it all worked before other forms of transport took over. A wealth of knowledge and very happy to share it with us.
The opportunity to meet up again with Michael and Jane from NB Moody Blues as they were travelling along the Leeds and Liverpool in the opposite direction to us, was too good to miss. So we made plans to meet up near Bridge 106 on Wednesday night, where we also found Alan again!. He obligingly moved forward leaving enough room for Figment, Celtic Maid and Moody Blues to moor and their inhabitants to enjoy an impromptu shared BBQ meal and catch up. We hadn’t seen them since we parted at Braunston last September. We all had a very good night on the towpath sharing stories, swapping mooring suggestions and finding out more from Alan. Whilst both Bron and Julia are not looking forward to doing the Ribble Link onto the Lancaster later in the month, after hearing of Michael and Jane’s experience coupled with sage advice from Alan, we have decided to view it as a means to an end preferring to focus on the anticipation of enjoying the Lancaster Canal when we arrive!!
After bidding a sad farewell to Moody Blues we made good progress Thursday through the Blackburn Locks (amongst the dirtiest section of canal we have yet experienced!) finally arriving to more suggested moorings above the Johnson’s Hill lock flight by Bridge 84. We had an early night as we had decided to make an early start on Friday morning – 7.00am – unheard of!!!! Bob set the alarm for 5.45 (so he thought) to give us time for a cup of tea and to leave a little earlier than Figment to avail ourselves of the services at the top of the flight. When the alarm went off – at 6.45 – Figment had already left and were patiently filling with water when we arrived soon after 7!!!! They thought it a huge joke to cruise past us without waking us up!!!!
But we got through the locks and were surprised to find good moorings by 9.30am (usually we don’t set off before this let alone arrive at a mooring!) right outside the Botany Bay shopping complex. Julia had heard about these the night before from some people on a widebeam and despite the close proximity to M61 motorway, we found them to be safe and reasonably quiet overnight. And although the shopping complex did not have the things we were looking for we got some lovely sausages and bacon and delicious spelt rolls for Bron. So happy days!!!
On Saturday morning we only had the last 4 miles to do to arrive at the White Bear Marina in Adlington. After saying goodbye to Malcolm and Julia until we re-join them on Tuesday above the Wigan flight, we headed off and before long arrived and were directed to our moorings by the owner, Emmaline. Lovely facilities awaited us and even better neighbours (Heather and Mike) who offered to drive us to Tescos in Bolton for a big stock up shop even before we had finished mooring!!! The kindness of many on the canals knows no bounds. So after a long and much overdue skype chat with our friends Monica and Jo in Australia, we were driven by Heather to Tesco where we filled her car with provisions and two new chairs that we had been searching for to replace the wooden folding chairs in our saloon!! Killed the credit card but we have comfortable chairs and full fridge and cellar and enough provisions to last us through the next couple of weeks!!!!
And then we enjoyed a drink with the marina locals before a delicious dinner of cod loin and steamed vegetables and a peaceful night.
We awoke this morning to the sound of rain but were not worried as we knew we didn’t have to travel in it today. Bron cooked a big breakfast (though we can assure you it was not a touch on Malcolm’s that we have grown to absolutely love and anticipate!!) before we both got stuck into our general domestic and maintenance duties. By tonight our shower should be re-sealed, the weed hatch re-sealed, and new storage hooks fixed on the stern deck. Oh and of course the boat interior cleaned and laundry taken care of.
Its not all plain sailing you know!!!!!