Saturday, 5 September 2015

The Water Road to Wigan Pier

It was a very early start on Thursday as we planned to get through Manchester in one go. Well, actually just the edge, Sale and skirting round Salford. Turning left we avoided the centre of Manchester and headed towards Worsley, crossing on the way, the swing aqueduct at Barton which crosses the Manchester Ship Canal. Although we were looking out for it, crossing over was something of an anticlimax. Not as impressive as expected. It is, however, quite a feat of victorian engineering.
On the subject of engineering, we soon after passed through Patricroft, where the Gardner works used to be, and our engine was manufactured in 1952. One feature of the Bridgewater Canal is the little cranes at strategic points to lift in the stop planks which are used to block the canal for maintenance work.
After a long day we eventually stopped near Astley Green in sight of a pithead winding tower in an area reclaimed from the ravages of the local mining industry.

Yesterday we travelled as far as Wigan. The landscape still showed signs of its mining past in the form of lakes and flashes caused by subsidence. Aproaching Wigan we encountered our first locks, (apart from the river), since middlewich. Being on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, they have some different paddle gear to what we are used to. One had a curious drum and chain arrangement to close the gates.
After spending a quieter than expected night moored in the centre of Wigan, we set off this morning past the iconic Wigan pier. Not particularly awe inspiring, but we knew what to expect. Still, a photo had to be taken.
The landscape improved dramatically on leaving Wigan with some lovely tree lined stretches and numerous sightings of Kingfishers along the way. The only down side was the number of swing bridges we encountered. They were easy to work but I hate having to stop the cars and put up with the scowling. Still, the canal was here first and they just have to put up with it!








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