Thursday, 27 April 2017

Ferry across the Mersey

We had a wonderful journey to Liverpool yesterday, sunny but chilly and a slight breeze. There were two other narrow boats doing the journey with us. The CRT staff were waiting for us at Hancock’s Swing bridge. There are two swing bridges on the stretch into Liverpool that are for major roads, so to minimise traffic disruption the trust staff operate the bridges for us at set times during the day. There was a new member of the Trust’s administration staff out with bridge and lock keepers seeing ‘what it’s all about’, she had a go at operating the bridges and locks for us. 


Once at the bottom of Stanley Locks she hopped onto our boat for a ride into Salthouse Dock. 

Leaving St Nicholas tunnel
Entering Cunard Tunnel

It seems so odd cruising along such huge spaces and through new tunnels that don’t leak onto you. 


Mann Island

Canning Dock

Princes Dock

Pump House pub, Canning Dock
Entering Albert Dock

There is a new stretch of navigation cut through one of the in-filled docks which is named ‘Sid’s Ditch’. Sid was one of our volunteers who helped us down the locks. 

Sids Ditch

The passage into to Salthouse Dock from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal was opened in 2009. There are two tunnels to navigate through. We had a slight wait at Mann Island lock as there is drilling work in Canning Dock. You feel so tiny against the other vessels in the docks and they are smaller than the major sea going vessels that used to dock here.
 We feel like we’re living in the laps of luxury as we have free electrical hook up, which means we can use the laptop as long as we like, boil the electric kettle, have the immersion heater on, use the washing machine and I ‘may’ even do some ironing. It’s a hive of activity around the dock, along with all the sight seers there is an international Taekwondo competition on at the ‘Echo Arena’. All the teams are milling around in their brightly coloured kits. 

Sunset over the Mersey

Last evening we strolled along the river front, the tide was out and we could see a wrecked boat and the wheels of the trucks that used to convey the cargoes from ships to warehouses and a beautiful sunset. We went as far as sea lock at Brunswick Dock where the boat we shared the locks with yesterday will be going next week, they can’t wait for the Bridgewater Canal to open so are going across the River Mersey and into the Manchester Ship Canal to access the Shropshire Union Canal at Ellesmere Port.

 Today we had an open top bus tour around the city which included a Mersey Ferry trip. Luckily the front of the upper bus deck had a roof as it poured with rain. We have a list of places we’d like to head to, since the bus trip. By the time we went on the ferry the rain had subsided and the wind picked up no end. There were large waves on the river and I had to take off my peak cap for fear of it blowing away. The River Mersey is a mile wide at this point. We stopped off for lunch at Seacombe and then jumped back onto the ferry to Woodside where we visited the U-Boat exhibition. Birkenhead was just so not what we imagined it to be like, very quiet, with very few people about and many shops closed down. We are so pleased it wasn’t so windy or rainy yesterday for our trip into Liverpool.

This is what happens when a depth charge explodes

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Salthouse Dock tomorrow


We moored near Melling on the outskirts of Liverpool yesterday just as the wind REALLY picked up. It’s the wind from the north, that delivered lots of hail stones in the night and a good coating of snow to my little sister in Dundee. We’ve done all our chores today:- changed the bed, emptied the loo, cleaned the windows, John made rolls & I've made ginger biscuits, for us and our CRT lock & bridge keepers and boiled up our next batch of wine, so once we moor in Liverpool we can start to explore. We have a list of places people have recommended to visit and the tourist information is just on Salthouse Dock.

We had a lazy St. George’s Day with our boat decorated with it’s newest bunting. The little flags were sold as wing mirror covers in a set of two/pack from ‘The Works’. I took out their elastic and sewed them onto ribbon = perfect, 40 bunting for £2. We’d read the best time to pick dandelions for wine making is on a sunny St. George’s Day. So off we set to pick 1lb of dandelion heads. These have steeped for two days and are now snuggled up in the saloon & just starting to ferment.

Easter Monday Colin and Carole from ‘The Wool Boat’ took us in their van to the Historic Boat Gathering at Ellesmere Port Boat Museum. We were expecting a larger event than last year when we moored there, as it was the gathering’s 40th anniversary this year. Sadly it didn’t even slightly live up to our expectations. All but a couple of working boats had left during Sunday and there were just two people demonstrating crafts, unlike last year, where we learnt to splice a rope. Colin had a chat with the crew of ‘Kennet’ the restored, historic Liverpool short boat, as they were bringing the boat back across the River Mersey the next day. As part of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal bicentenary celebrations Kennet crossed to the other side and spent winter at the museum. Colin takes photographs for the boating press and ascertained what time they were departing Ellesmere Port so he could go back to snap them. We had lunch and then headed to look at the end of the Manchester Ship Canal at Eastham, as neither Carole or Colin had been there before. Kennet moored beside us at the Farmers Arms on Wednesday before it’s mammoth trek up the Wigan flight of locks and over the Pennines to be in Skipton for May Day bank holiday weekend.

Heather was working last Tuesday, so Nikita and Magnus came to stay for a couple of nights and Lance popped in just for the day. Wednesday we headed off with the two big kids to get water and an ice cream from Burscough Wharf before returning to opposite the Farmers Arms.  It is so nice to have a crew to get to do the really rotten chores like scrubbing & mopping the decks!!!

SO, this time tomorrow we’ll be moored in Salthouse Dock. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. We thought we’d be the only boat making the journey tomorrow but just as I’m typing another boat has moored near us to head down in the morning.

Anyone remember these?
Leaves opening on our baby oak

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Happy Easter

It’s a dull, cool & drizzly Easter day here in Burscough and the fire’s glowing. We’ve been moored opposite The Farmers Arms for a few days. We’ve been able to pop to two knit & natters at the pub and our last will be this coming Thursday and then we’ll be heading to Liverpool.

John made us some lovely hot cross buns. We had Easter fairy cakes for breakfast yesterday when we had 6 Overells over. Jason’s sister and her fiancĂ©e are up visiting. Heather’s working most of Easter.

It’s SO good to be out cruising again, but it’s feeling quite odd. The four months over winter went very fast while we were on the Rufford Branch.

Last week we strolled back down the Rufford Branch to give our friend a hand up the locks and through the bridges as he’s single handed. 

We’ve spent a few days in Parbold. We’ve missed walking up hills over our flat winter, so we set off to walk up Parbold Hill. We have driven up & down the hill several times as it’s the road that runs off of the M6 at junc 27 on our way to Heather & Jason’s and the views are amazing. We took the off road route along the canal and up past disused quarries and up Fairy Glen. The glen was beautiful, 
but there’s room for improvement when ALL the bluebells are out it’ll be stunning. We retraced our steps and went up to the view point at the brow of the hill. We then headed back down for some refreshment at the huge Railway pub where it was lively while everyone watched the Grand National. We wished we’d backed the same winning horse most of our family had in the race, ‘One for
 Arthur’ (which was my dad’s name). Then on Sunday I risked life and fingers picking the shooting tips off of stinging nettles, which John’s turning into wine, however, it’s could take a year to clear in the demijohn, now that’s too long to wait really.


We had a fair journey to the nearest launderette last week at Maghull on the outskirts of Liverpool. We’re missing using the machine at St. Mary’s Marina and Heather’s house. We met a couple of youngsters on bicycles who enjoyed a ride on each of the 4 swing bridges through Maghull. Plus, we retrieved several fishing floats from trees on the off side and gave them to the lads. We were moored by the football ground and watched the Maghull reserves play a game.

 On our way back from Maghull we moored at the Saracen's Head a couple of days near Halsall cuttting, where the building of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal commenced in 1770.

Spring’s really in the air and there are lots ducklings appearing. We’ve seem a family of 21, yes 21 ducklings. The blossom is blooming and the trees are budding. Our little oak tree’s leaves are going to bursting fourth very soon too.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Too full to move at Burscough Wharf

What a wonderful day we had yesterday and it’s a good job we’d not planned to be on the move, as we were overloaded with 8 adults and 3 children. The weather was fine so we could spread out on the boat & towpath too. My sister Louise & nephew Jack dropped by after attending a wedding in Sheffield. Heather & her family were here too, plus Ada & Dale. I zoomed up some cherry scones & did rolls for lunch. The children had more fun than you can imagine making a magic potion in a muddy puddle.

Ada had some holiday to use up so came for a short week break with us and Heather. 

On Mother’s Day Jason drove us to Ingleton Water falls, North Yorkshire. It has got to be the most wonderful walk we’ve ever done. Nikita & Magnus are really good little walkers and loved the just under 5 mile walk, which was pretty steep in places. We took it in turns to carry Lance in the backpack, which is very good exercise. He also loves walking too.

We got up to the main line of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal on 24th March and have been moored right by Burscough Wharf. The weather’s been atrocious with wind and rain so we stayed on the Rufford Branch longer than planned. It’s SO difficult negotiating the swing bridges over the Moss in the wind, even on a still day. In-fact, the day we headed off I got lashed with hail stones as I steered out of Tarleton while John made me hot chocolate.

Fingers crossed we’ll be able to moor right outside The Farmers Arms for knit & natter this Thursday.

I’ve needed some dental treatment and so it’s so handy mooring right opposite the surgery in Burscough.

There has been a beer festival at The Ship, Latham, a 10 min walk along the canal. We went when it stopped raining Saturday. It was lovely to see some Banks & Taylor beer there, so John texted the boys he used to work with to tell them. It was very busy so we left early.

We are now looking forward to our trip into Salthouse Dock, Liverpool at the end of April. To prepare for our trip into the sea water we’ve ordered some zinc sacrificial anodes to hang off the boat as our freshwater magnesium ones won’t protect the hull from cathodic corrosion.