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Saturday, 13 January 2018

September 2017 by bridge and lock, part 3.

We had decided to head for the top of the Wigan Flight for the night and so continued on our way from Withnell Fold

We pass Chorley and Botany Bay with out stopping and on a nice lock free pound. There is plenty of interest in old mills and views to far off hills to pass the time in the sun. Not far before the Wigan Locks you come to Haigh Hall and this little basin on the off side. I have read that it was a little basin where goods for the Hall would have been brought. By the way the house grounds are now a golf club and the house a conference centre and wedding venue owned by the Wigan Council to whom mit was left in 1947. The bridge over the basin is very low so unless they had their own boats too it seems unlikely that 'normal' trading boats used it.

Here is the nice setting of the basin. I pretty lattice footbridge is n the distance and the Hall is off in open land to the left of the picture with extensive views across the River Douglas valley. The family of the 7th Earl of Balcarres, who had the house built between 1827 ans 1840, made their money from mining under their land. I wonder if the basin was therefore a loading point for tubs like the stavationers that were used at Worsley by the Duke of Bridgewater?

We stopped for the night at the top lock and had a chat with the keepers who had just helped a couple of boats up. The forecast wasn't too good for the following day but we decided to head down anyway and hope that it would clear up sooner rather than later. The good news was that another boat was heading up so altleast half the locks should be in our favour. The bad news was the voluntary Lock keeper was on holiday! The next day when the locks were opened up we were told that the boat coming up had thought better of it so we were on our own. For the first half hour it was quite heavy rain but then it just petered out and by the time we had done 18 of the 21 locks the sun was out and dried us all off. It actually wasn't too bad. Some of the lock gates were very heavy but I think it only took us four and a quarter hours.

We pushed on a little further and headed down another couple of locks to moor up by Trencherfield Lock. This is the last lock of the day, No.87 and with the nice covered dry dock to the left. The C&RT offices used to be in a modern office block to the left but have now moved into Trencherfiled Mill. We had a wander up to the Town of Wigan so as to stop our muscles stiffening up, but mostly to have a few pints and a bit to eat that would also help min the stated aim. I did sleep well at any rate.

The next day we were off again and here we are passing under Pottery Road bridge, just past our overnight moorings. Straight through the bridge is the Orwell pub and to the right the covered moorings of the terminal warehouse. A little further on is the 'Way we Were' museum. It seems that the regeneration of the areas canal buildings has not worked out as the pub and museum seem to be derelict and the buildings falling into disrepair. It is sad to see and it is to be hoped that another use can be found for them.

At Gathust, Deans Lock there were mines and an explosives factory but it is now one of those places where yo have the canal, a railway and a road (M6), all crossing in the same place. I was lucky enough to catch a train going over, but the snatched shot means that it was a bit out of focus, so no, you don't need to go to Specsavers. (Other opticians are available!).

At Apperly Locks there were once two routes. I'm not sure which came first. On the right is one lock that is 12' deep and is the one in use today. To the left are two locks of 6' that are now derelict. I understand one or the other were put in to be able to work traffic up and down at the same time. The two lock arm makes a nice quiet mooring nowadays.

As you arrive in the pretty setting of Parbold you get a nice scene of the old windmill overlooking the canal. Just to the left, out of the picture is the site of an old dry dock. There are some nice shops and cafes in the village and the windmill has been an artists gallery for many years and is always worth a wander in to see what he is up to.

We were nearly at out destination and heading into October, but I'm afraid you are going to have to wait to reach the end with me.

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