Friday, 24 July 2015

Phew! Made it to Wigan

We did indeed move some more last night after reading that the top lock on the Leigh Branch was due to be closed today. It turned rather dark as we motored along. We reached Plank Lane lift bridge and decided to stop.

We got up at 0630 today in order to be able to get past the bridge before the traffic got too heavy and carry on to the Poolstock Locks. CRT have been opening the locks for just an hour from 1000 to let boats through, but the stoppage was billed as happening today. We reasoned that if we were there early CRT would let us through. We got there at about 0830 and didn't have long to wait for CRT to arrive and unlock the locks.

The problem is with the top lock. One top paddle is broken allowing water to flow into the lock all the time. As we were ascending the top lock a work boat arrived laden with stop planks; as soon as all the waiting boats were through the work boat blocked the head of the lock and the planks were cut to size and shaped with a chain saw.

So we only just squeaked through to Wigan; the latest info from CRT is that the lock should reopen on Monday. This would have made it tight for us to get to Hancock's Swing Bridge 9 at the rendezvous time for the booked passage to Liverpool. As it is, we now have the luxury of a day in hand. Jan has never been to Blackpool so we might pop along there by train tomorrow.

More on stop planks: I expressed my surprise to a CRT man that new stop planks were having to be made. He said that they were only ever used once as they are useless after water has swelled them. Has anyone else heard this? He reckoned that few of the stop planks in their little shelters around the system had ever been used.

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