The journey out of Liverpool went smoothly. We were the last boat of three to leave the docks and made it safely through Bootle and
Sunday 8th September
As we retraced our steps away from Liverpool we had a last minute change of plans at the junction of the Rufford branch and decided to go down the locks towards Tarleton. We shared the first six locks with NB Bright Angel who were great locking partners, before stopping for the night just before Rufford.
Monday 9th September
We made it through to Tarleton (the end of the Rufford branch) in good time despite the overgrown and narrow channel (see photo) and made a last call to CRT to check for availability for the Ribble link. Contrary to what we'd been told before they did have a few vacancies but after checking dates nothing seemed to fit our plans so we decided to save that for another year. The Rufford branch is very scenic and makes a great cruise so coming back will be no hardship.
Tuesday 10th September
We set off at a reasonable time and managed to share a few swing bridges with a couple of boats. We made it back up the set of locks of the Rufford Branch in good time before lunch. These locks are very pretty. We had an interesting time at the first swing bridge immediately after having turned left. A widebeam boat had just been through the bridge and appeared to be completely diagonal across the canal. The single handed boater appeared. Victoria went to do the bridge and opened it ready for PM. A van arrived and was waiting. The widebeam attempted to manoeuvre with a load of power on and the front rope still tied, it wasn't working, so the boater just simply put more power on. The canal was getting churned up. Victoria reclosed the bridge to let the van past, the driver shouting 'I think he must have had a drink.' The boater then left the boat in gear whilst going through the boat to let off the front rope. This sent the boat right across the canal and in to the path of PM. David reversed as quick as a narrowboat can but got stuck on the mud. The widebeam was eventually underway and we could pass.
We went up the lock at Appley Bridge and moored in the disused double lock immediately after the lock. David had been going on about the secret mooring all day to arrive to find a CRT boat, a fisherman and then another boat turned up. Still a nice mooring though.
Wednesday 11th September
We have made it from Appley Bridge to south of Wigan today. The first day of proper rain we have had on the trip so far. Quite a contrast to last year. Moored at the secure mooring outside the CRT office in Wigan and went for a walk in to town before lunch. Nothing much going on in Wigan today so continued, turning right down onto the Leigh Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool. The rain kept pouring down (but we were not as wet as last year) we did the two locks down out of Wigan. The landscape opens up a little and lakes surround the canal which is rather odd but nice. Heading for Manchester now on the Bridgewater canal.
Photo of secure mooring. Note there is a sign up saying office only open to visitors 10am-12pm if you are planning on popping in. Wish I worked there!