Yesterday we drove on along the Leigh Branch almost as far as the junction with the Bridgewater Canal before turning round. Roland drove most of the way including the winding which he did admirably. We have concluded that in bad weather, driving with the pram cover is OK on this canal. The bridges are nearly always high enough, though usually close enough to be disconcerting. One bridge had a pipe underneath it with some insulation or similar dangling from it. It would probably have moved aside if we’d hit it, but we did an extra wiggle to use the other side of the canal, just in case.
We moored up with an excellent view of Pennington Flash at a spot we’d noticed when we came this way in August. The weather promised to be better in the afternoon so we all went for a walk around the Flash. We were treated to an extended view of a grebe fishing in a side lagoon and the largest number of coots I’ve ever seen together. There were a number of hides along the water, though none afforded us any better views than when we were walking.
We had a further explore along the towpath to have a proper look at the Unlock sculpture we had also noticed in August. It is made of five lock gates arranged somewhat like an open book. The gate paddle is easy to see, which makes it easier to see what is happening when we wind the handles.
While we were having a cuppa back on the boat there was a short sharp rain shower – excellent timing again. Shortly before we were due to head to the nearby pub for tea, a wide narrowboat drove past much too fast. I soon noticed that our mooring spikes had been pulled out and we were now adrift! It didn’t take long to re-attach ourselves. Our neighbour was also out doing the same thing and came to ask if we’d got a chance to shout at him. Sadly we hadn’t. Luckily for us this hadn’t happened after we’d gone to the pub. A narrowboat on a canal doesn’t tend to drift far, but it can still be quite hard to get to.
The Nevison Country Inn was great. The landlady was a larger than life character with a friendly or saucy word for everyone. The food was excellent too, and plenty of it.
Today we said goodbye to Mugs and Roland. They had left their car at Burscough so we hatched a plan to get Roland back to it. We started by heading back towards Wigan while he was having breakfast. When we reached the last winding hole before the locks we let him off to walk the rest of the way to Wigan while we turned round again and moored up near the road bridge.
The plan would have worked much better if Roland hadn’t got on the wrong train, but he did eventually appear in time for some lunch before they drove off. It’s been great fun having them aboard, we’ve had a lot of laughs and enjoyed the bird life despite the wetter weather.
We were low on water so we moved on hoping to find the water point marked on the map. Within a few minutes I spotted a kingfisher – the first one I’ve seen since we met up with Mugs and Roland. We did find the water point, a small metallic box almost invisible from the canal – I was looking for a large black and white post. The rain has continued through the afternoon, so the inside of the boat is now much tidier and various things transported to us by our guests have been stowed. Quite a lot of it is now stowed under the bed, which would have been anti-social to do with guests on board.
The beetroot in tonight’s tea were a lot brighter than the weather – and tasty too!