Category Archives: Leeds Liverpool Canal

Will We Ever Escape?! 21st March

Above Lemonroyd, still!

Porridge for breakfast with added diddy fruit. Think it will be a few more days before a Full English is back on the menu. Tooth situation improving, I’m only on paracetamol now.

Diddy fruit

The light behind us was red and flashing this morning, levels on the river deemed too high still. Ahead we waited for news at Bank Newton, would the lock there reopen today? If so our plans would possibly change . From our current mooring if we headed up the River Aire into Leeds it would be 6.4 miles before we got off rivers. If we stick to our original plan of the Rochdale it would be 26.6 miles before no more river sections could scupper our cruise. As the morning progressed we started to get our heads into gear regarding heading into Leeds, currently there are no flood gates or locks closed that stand in our way.

A big blue widebeam came past, we’d seen it last year at the top of Greenberfield. They headed towards the lock, the red light still flashing. A while later Mick walked to the bins, had a chat with Ruth from NB Lily Rose, they are still in the marina awaiting delivery of a new fridge. He said we may be changing our plans and head to Leeds, but River Lock is currently only open three days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays, so we’d have to wait for next week. As he walked back he checked the river level below the lock, almost amber, the widebeam was now below the lock heading downstream, a C&RT van pulled away, the flashing red light no longer flashing, just a steady RED!


A stoppage notice came through, Lemonroyd Lock has a ‘mechanical and electrical failure. Engineers will be on site morning of Friday 22nd March to investigate and rectify.’ BOO!!!

Then another regarding Bank Newton, ‘the navigation is now open.’ Hooray!

I wandered up to the shops a few easier items to eat required. On return notices were coming through about the flood locks on the Aire and Calder, all were open or user operable apart from Bank Dole, which is closed due to a silt build up at Beale Lock. We’d now be able to get up to Wakefield.

As usual this was followed by an update on the flood locks and gates on the Calder Hebble. All flood locks and gates were now open apart from Anchor Pit and Ledgard. We’d now be able to reach Mirfield!

Except Lemonroyd our nearest lock has a fault!

We hatched a plan, in the morning we’d wind, fill up with water and then wait for the lock to be mended, fingers crossed!

Today is the 21st March, #WorldDownSyndromeDay. The date for WDSD being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome and the day has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012 to raise awareness. The ‘Lots of Socks’ campaign encourages you to wear your boldest, brightest, mismatched socks, so when people ask you about them you can tell them all you know about Down Syndrome. This years campaign is End The Stereotypes.

Four Odd Socks

Not many people got to see our socks today, but that didn’t matter. In the words of Dark Horse Theatre Company, ‘we put a pair of odd socks on & celebrate the individuality and talent of people with Down Syndrome!‘ I certainly know some very talented actors.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 broken lock, 10 flood locks/gates open, 2 closed ahead, 2 sad git courgettes, 4 odd socks, 1 widebeam, 1 set of unintelligible instructions, 1 favourite lodger booked in, 1 Mrs Tilly’s, NO!

Decisions. 20th March

Above Lemonroyd, still!

Still not a good nights sleep for me sadly. I don’t think my dental problems are over just yet. Things are better, I’m leaving things be for a few days in case it’s just the aftermath of having a wisdom tooth out. Shame I managed to stock up on my cereal whilst in Scarborough, but it’s too munchy to eat right now, porridge it is.

This morning it was raining. The river levels were down, amber light showing at the lock behind us, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long. There was a decision to make.

All that friendly cover being trimmed

We’re wanting to cross the Pennines via the Rochdale canal which is open. Woodnook Lock on the Wakefield Branch of the Aire and Calder reopened last Friday after a stoppage. However the next flood lock, Broadreach has been closed since the 10th March. The Aire and Calder followed by the Calder Hebble both have river stretches, all with flood locks or gates on them, quite a few of these are closed at the moment.

Today we could cruise for about three hours to above Kings Road Lock and moor there. One step closer to the next stretch of river, one ticked off. However, shops are further away than they are here and the only service available is a water point. We could carry on to Stanley Ferry, but it’s not as nice there for Tilly. Here we also have the advantage of transport should we want to go anywhere.

First decision made, it was raining, we’d stay put for the time being.

By the afternoon the light at the lock had turned red! We’d be staying now no choice.

Up ahead of us on the Leeds Liverpool there have been a couple of closures, Greenberfield and Bank Newton. Greenberfield reopened today and the towpath telegraph suggests Bank Newton will open before the weekend. To go this way we’d still have the River Aire to cope with, but once up River Lock into Granary Wharf we’d be free from flood locks and rising levels. We went that way last year, it’s our favourite canal, but we’d really hoped to cross via the Rochdale. This decision has been differed for the time being.

A day of Tilly finally going out, Mick trying to understand the instructions on how to program the voltage sensitive relay switch he’s bought for the Nebolink (still unfathomable) and me knitting. My latest sock frogged back and altered a touch so the secret message would be clearer, it also means the knitting of it and it’s partner should be quicker.

Just who would win the silver?!

Mid afternoon, we couldn’t wait any longer, we had to finish off Traitors Australia Season 2. Not quite the outcome we’d been hoping for, but maybe better than we could have imagined when starting on the first episode. Thank you Adam for helping feed our addiction. We now just have to go cold turkey and start watching all the other things that have been recording on the PVR.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 load of translated mumbo jumbo, 1 amber turned to flashing red, 1 fair weather cat, 1st chiff chaff, 1 frogged sock, 1 trimmed towpath, 1 heel turned, 1 lazy day, 1 tasty tuna macaroni cheese. No you are not having another Mrs Tilly stamp of approval for here!

Meatball Hide And Seek. 19th March

Near Swillington Pipe Bridges to near Lemonroyd Marina to near Swillington Pipe Bridges

A busy day ahead for all of us.

I was awake with the sunrise in Scarborough. I popped my painty jumper over my pyjamas and started on the gloss surround followed by two coats of emulsion in the bathroom. A bit more tidying up/hiding things was needed, I also needed to track down what had happened to the keys we’d left with Duncan (not that Duncan!). It turned out that he’d added Micks and my instructions together and returned all sets of keys to where they’d started off.

All finished with a sensible mirror and shelf. It’s only taken 14 or so years

Some lovely bird had left it’s calling card all the way down the bay window, so that needed cleaning off as the window cleaners had only just been. All this under time pressure, I really didn’t want to have to return to the house to do a few things.

Meanwhile Mick moved Oleanna back towards the marina. Alongside the road he tied to the last post and banged a spike in. The Sainsbury’s driver called to ask if he could be early, which was fine with me I just hoped Mick was where he said he’d be. A couple of substitutions today, nothing that should be a problem.

A new bit of hospital

Front door was locked, I’d most probably already missed the bus so headed off through the park to walk to the hospital for my appointment. The daffodils are just starting to come out and the sunshine made for quite a warm walk. I was early and possibly jumped the queue at the breast screening clinic. Kind of wished they’d made me wait for another ten minutes as I wouldn’t have been half so clammy to be manipulated onto the scanner. But it did mean that once my boobs had been squished in all directions I left the hospital perfectly timed for the next bus into town.

Goodbye North Sea, see you in a while

An hour before the next train I went to see the sea, the big wheel being put back up, again! for the summer and got myself a gf wrap from M&S for lunch. This took me all the way from Scarborough to York to eat, 50 minutes! Biting and chewing quite a problem at the moment.


Mick stowed our shopping. Had they got confused with a substitution? 1 box of wine had been swapped for three bottles of wine, another seemingly for 12 bottles of alcohol free Corona! Once he’d stowed everything, it was obvious the beers were extra, someone else’s shopping! Two problems with it, it contains gluten and just where to put 12 bottles? Frank do you drink Corona? Would you like it?

The Ouse in York had gone down a touch revealing the amount of silt that will greet moorers at Easter. In Leeds I had chance to check out boats in Granary Wharf, pretty full and four boats moored above Office Lock, are some of these moorings new permanent moorings?

Mick had moved Oleanna back to the last silver birch and Tilly was busy in the friendly cover as I got back to the boat. River levels were down enough, Woodnook Lock now open, should we make a move today? To reach a good mooring it might take us three hours, we decided to wait til tomorrow as it would be getting dark when we arrived.

But you always say I should use the shore based facilities!

Next problem, what to eat this evening? Our shopping didn’t consist of easy none chew food. I goet some meatballs cooking with a tomato sauce to have with rice, I could cut them up very small. Mick took over cooking for the last bit, he counted the meatballs. ‘There’s only 11 meatballs!’ ‘There were 12 when I last looked’ One of them was playing hide and seek!

By the time I’d slowly eaten my meal Mick had finished his, done the washing up and cleaned the hob. I’m normally the first to finish! The leg of lamb we got may have to be liquidized if things don’t improve soon!

Another two episodes of Traitors Australia 2. We’ve started shouting at the absolute stupidity of the Faithful now, thank goodness we moved out of the marina as only the birds and fish can hear us.

0 locks, 0.5 miles, 2 winds, 3 boxes wine, 3 bottles, 12 alcohol free free beers, 1 coat gloss, 2 coats emulsion, 1 clean window, 1 house ready, 4 squishes, 1 bus, 3 trains, 50 minute lunch, 11 no 12 meatballs, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval (does the same place count again Tilly?), 1 pedicure required, 5 left, can they really be SO stupid?!

Happy 8th Baseplate Day! 14th February

Well today marks the 8th anniversary of Oleanna’s baseplate being laid in Tim Tylers workshop in Newcastle under Lyme. It was another year and a bit before we finally moved on board to cruise her down to Crick to meet with Lillian and fully move onboard.

Mick stood at the stern 58ft 6 inches away, 8 years ago

If you want to look back and see Oleanna’s build this is a post from our first visit. Her story starts much earlier so here’s a link to the first Oleanna blog post, 1948 blog posts ago!

Currently we are gradually getting ourselves ready to move back on board, the date still a little bit up in the air.

Sunday in the Park with Mick

Mick went down to check on Oleanna on Monday. A chat with the bully boy batteries went well, the newly oiled floor had cured so the back steps could go back in. I’ve been busy covering new and old dinette cushions and today we should receive new cartridges for our life jackets, which are currently still inflated in a closed room well away from cat claws.

The world of canals and rivers is keeping us on our toes as regards to stoppages at the moment. There is a silt build up on the River Trent which needs dredging between Beeston and Cranfleet locks. The coal boat had serious difficulty passing that way a week ago and was having to wait for levels to rise again before attempting to return to base. Since then the Trent has gone back into flood.

Can we start packing yet?

The Don Doors on the New Junction are having issues with their gearbox so are closed to the canal currently. Even if we got past them Vazon Sliding Bridge is closed to boat traffic until mid March whilst strengthening works are carried out to the north canal wall.

However we’d planned on crossing the Pennines. The Rochdale, Lock 67 is suffering from subsidence which will be worked on next week. Lock 65 is also showing similar signs and will be looked at next week to see what should be done.

Round 1

The Leeds Liverpool has a navigation restriction near Burnley, Embankment 39, so it is still navigable. Works at Wigan have been slowed by the weather so the closure there has been extended by a week so that concrete has more time to go off, the concrete has as yet to be laid. Problems near Foulridge Tunnel seem to have been sorted.

Round 2

Then the Huddersfield Narrow and Broad. There are bridge works and a lock closure on the Broad along with repairs to a wash wall which should be finished mid March. On the Narrow locks on the east side are closed until the end of February, then there is a closure in Stalybridge which should open mid March.

Round 3

So at the moment the Leeds Liverpool is looking the most promising, followed by the Huddersfield canals. Further south there has been a substantial landslip on the North Oxford near Brinklow. We’d planned on heading southwards this way, but we strongly suspect it will take a while for this to be sorted so will have to head southwards through Birmingham. Or do we wait for the Trent to be sorted and out of flood then high tail it south along the Leicester Section?

Who knows! We’ll wait and see what is open when we set off.

Thank you Beth

In Sockathon News I now have sponsors for 29 pairs of socks and have raised £655 for Dementia UK. Pair 7 will soon be finished. I now have a very large box of yarn donations sent in from all over, details of which are on the Yarn Donations page. There are still a few more people who have pledged yarn donations so they will be added as yarn arrives. I think I may be knitting for a few years to use it all up! If you fancy a pair here’s a link to my JustGiving page

  • Thank you Debby for becoming pair 30!
My friend Morag looking across the harbour

0 locks, 0 miles, 8 years old! 4 routes from the north closed, 1 bathroom delayed, 1 best mate visit, 2 lodgers, 1 fair weather cat, 2 opticians appointments, 2 doctors appointments, 1 vets appointment, 1 gathering, 1 leg of lamb, 2 boaters nearly ready.

2023 A Sociable Year

A long post, it’s the annual round up.

January, we sat waiting. Waiting for a new alternator to arrive, for the River Trent to come out of flood and then for the canal to defrost sufficiently for us move. This meant Pip doing work on the boat instead of in the house, this made for smelly days and a very cold workshop under the pram cover.

After almost three weeks we were on the move again having to navigate through thick fog, navigational aids helping us not to bump into the banks! Ahead of us in Yorkshire was a troublesome swing bridge, closed to boat traffic. Our plans had to change, we arranged to moor up in Newark and head back to Scarborough by van. Chin rubs nearly made the longer journey better, but I really don’t like the outside moving SO fast!

Four days later we were back on board, the bridge ahead was now open. Tides were checked, locks booked, cupboards stocked for a few days cruising. Winter cruising can be so so pretty, yet so so chilly. A display by the Red Arrows as we left Torksey kept us amused and a defrost was very welcome when we arrived at Keadby. After four days cruising we were moored up in Goole and walking to catch the train back to Scarborough.

#unit21 in Huddersfield kept Pip occupied for much of February. Then it was time to give the house some TLC in between lodgers. A back bedroom got a makeover just in time. Mick had trips to see Oleanna, a jobs list left with Alastair and the covers headed off for some much needed mending. Tilly was kept busy checking out the neighbours, they stay inside so I get free reign of their outside!

April arrived along with two lodgers, it was not possible to do more work on the house, Pip chose to knit socks instead. Dementia UK her chosen charity this year. Donations of yarn came from dyers and Pip’s needles started to click away, keeping up with requests. 15 pairs knitted and her target met.

May, visits were made to Oleanna preparing her for cruising, these were interspersed with visits from family, delivering socks, getting the house ready and starting work on the design for panto. On the 9th of May we loaded a van and returned to life afloat. Tilly the happiest cat once she was back onboard! A day later we set off heading west. Leeds for a few days for Pip to head to Matlock for work and then a wonderful visit to see 93 year old Betty in Harrogate.

Working our way up the Leeds Liverpool Canal, locks and the new stupid swing bridge much lighter work with two boats. Our favourite canal with wonders of the waterways, friends on route, Mick’s birthday and a trip to Bowness to see the latest Ayckbourn play. We managed a night on our favourite mooring on the network sadly it was too windy to enjoy the view with a barbecue.

Up over the top, we teamed up with NB That’s It, thankfully descending the Wigan flight in a window between vandalism and blown cills that have hampered the flight this year. Then along the Bridgewater Canal, panto designing whilst on the flat. Through Preston Brook Tunnel and onto the Trent and Mersey turning right onto the Middlewich Branch.

Back on lockdown ‘Home’ waters we cruised the Nantwich pound, 5 hours 13 minutes including a lunch and shopping stop, back in 2020 we’d spent 80 days here. We cruised southwards on the Shropie joined for a day by Carol and George from WB Still Rockin’. Laura and Alison from NB Large Marge joined us for the ascent up the Wolverhampton 21.

Through Bumingham and on to Lapworth and then Hatton where we had an extra pair of hands from Jane, who hopefully now has her own narrowboat. A well deserved burger at the Cape of Good Hope with Emma and David, then a lovely evening with Lizzie (NB Panda) at The Folly, it was turning out to be quite a sociable June.

Oleanna wiggled her way across the summit of the South Oxford, very familiar water to us. Despite the sunny weather and us cruising most days our batteries were not happy, turning themselves off overnight! Diagnosis was required, we pulled into Cropredy Marina to plug in and run tests. One of our three batteries was dead, bad enough but thankfully nothing more. Once a panto meeting had been attended we could move on, except there was an emergency closure at Banbury Lock. C&RT worked hard to get the canal open as quickly as they could, thankfully our hold up wasn’t too long.

We met up with the crews of NB Azzura (Liz and Mark) and NB Perseus (Julie and Simon) both Finesse boats, had a visit to London for Andrew’s birthday. Then had a rendez vous with Paul and Christine and enjoyed a good catch up onboard NB Waterway Routes.

Down to the River Thames where we turned upstream onto waters we’ve only cruised once before. Such a lovely stretch of river, sadly with fewer moorings now. We sped up to Lechlade where we took up residence for a week so that we could attend a get together at Pip’s cousins which coincided with the Royal International Air Tatoo in Fairford. It was great to be with family on a jolly occasion.

Work took over for Pip as we made our way back down stream to Oxford, Cinderella had to go to the ball and the model needed to be finished. Then we sauntered our way back northwards. One day had us meet up with Frankie NB Discovery, NB Dusty the local coal boat and Graeme on NB Misty Blue, it was good to catch up with Graeme and hear of his adventures since we’d seen him last year.

A trip for us both back to Scarborough to do a turn around of lodgers, see a show and pick up post. Mick would have to return the following weekend to swap bedlinen over again, this time by train from Rugby. Stand still budgets and inflation required Pip to do more work on panto so her days were kept busy reducing Cinderella’s carriage from £2000 to £400.

Stoppages around the network meant we had only one real route we could take to head back north. We winded and climbed our way up to the Leicester Section. Here we met up with Ken and Sue NB Cleddau at Houdini’s Field sitting out till way after dark. Then a small detour to Welford to meet up with NB Panda and Lizzie for an evening before we continued our way north.

Another detour to Market Harborough before Leicester where North Lock had a badly leaking cill which required a crew of C&RT chaps to force the bottom gates open, booked passage was required, this meant we got a few days to enjoy the city whilst we awaited our turn.

Sadly by now the lack of water on the Chesterfield Canal meant the top end of the canal was closed, no point in rushing up the River Trent for a return visit. In Nottingham Pip’s little toe had a kerfuffle with a cupboard necessitating a visit to the drop in centre for her little pinkie to be realigned. This meant Pip had to hand the windlass and key of power over to Mick for the last locks of the year.

Downstream on the River Trent, stopping at all our favourite moorings. Pip’s knitting needles came out again to knit more socks for Dementia UK. We had a trip into Lincoln along the Fossdyke Canal, we actually managed to finally visit the Cathedral this time!

Tides were not helpful for the rest of our trip north so a couple of days at West Stockwith was needed, but that did mean we’d be sharing the tidal waters back to Yorkshire with NB That’s It whom we’d met earlier in the year.

There was time for a catch up with David as we passed through Bramwith, a jaunt up to Doncaster and then finally along the New Junction and onto Goole where a space had been found for us in the marina. A train ride to Scarborough to pick up a van and see the latest show before packing up the boat again for the second time this year.

Planned works at the house then went very smoothly. Scaffolding arriving the day after we arrived, new windows later in the day with four carpenters and two days later the decorator who was to give the house a much needed new coat of paint outside.

Mid October Pip moved to Chipping Norton for a month to work on panto, Mick and Tilly left to welcome a new lodger for the Christmas show in Scarborough. Panto was as much work as normal with the addition of Pip getting covid after the first week of rehearsals. The show opened to toe tapping audiences and many many bananas, getting great reviews. Mick had a days trip to London to support boaters who had gathered outside the Houses of Parliament for a Fund Britain’s Waterways rally.

Back in Scarborough Christmas came early with a visit from the London Leckenbys at the beginning of December, they hadn’t been to Scarborough for ten years. A few more house jobs have been done but a list has been compiled for the new year along with those on Oleanna. We’ve had a lovely Christmas, catching up with Scarborough friends, Tilly has slept lots, we’re lucky to see her before 2pm most days! I’m just resting for when the outsides start changing again.

Don’t worry Tilly the count down has started.

This year our plans changed all because of an invite from Pip’s cousins. We travelled our favourite canal, cruised many familiar waters , visited ‘Home’, climbed trees and pounced, caught up with many boating friends and made many new ones along the way. One very sociable year.

So our vital statistics for 2023 according to Canalplan are

Total distance of 805miles, 2.25furlongs and 436 locks.

There were 121 moveable bridges, of which 33 are usually left open; 151 small aqueducts or underbridges and 16 tunnels – a total of 6 miles, 5 furlongs under ground and 7 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 244 miles, 1.25 furlongs of narrow canals; 251 miles, 5.5 furlongs of broad canals; 69 miles, 1.5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 95 miles, 4.75 furlongs of small rivers; 57 miles, 3.75 furlongs of large rivers; 87 miles, 1.5 furlongs of tidal rivers; 185 narrow locks; 223 broad locks; 28 large locks.

Although according to Nebo we did

815.09 miles and 431 locks! Hmm maybe my maths isn’t so good. But then we only started using Nebolink in August, tracking our every move rather than just on our phones.

470 engine hours, 789.8 litres diesel! Ouch, having to run the engine to top the batteries up on an evening didn’t help with this, 150amp hours down to 100, 3 gas bottles, 120kg coal, 19.5 litres oil, 2 oil filters, 2 fuel filters, 1 shower mixer, 1 domestic alternator, 1 set new engine mounts, 1 overnight guest, 3 packs Dreamies, 1.5 packs Bonkers, 39 friends, 6 brought in, 34 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 34 pairs of socks, £1132 for Dementia UK, 2 shows, 9 lodgers, 10 supermarket deliveries, 33 boxes wine, 1 toe, 6 months cruising, 3 boat mover sightings, 209 posts, 184 likes, 9,503 visitors, 31,309 views!

Thank you for following our journey during 2023. We have a plan for 2024, but there are several invites and a rendez vous with some New Zealanders. Will we stick to our plan? Have to alter course to fit everything in? Wait and see, we’re already counting down the weeks to being afloat again.

You Have Reached Your Destination.


Nine weeks ago on the 9th May we moved back onboard Oleanna, leaving Goole on the 10th. Today we’d reached our planned destination, Lechlade.

The above map taken from data provided by our Victron Inverter

Our vital statistics for our trip down are as follows

Nebo 366.54 miles 270 locks

Canalplan 364 miles 1.25 furlongs 270 locks

Our Victron Inverter 403.5 miles (?)

Nebo’s map of our journey

Interesting how both maps have gaps in them, both in different places.

So,now where?

We need to make our way back northwards, currently there is only one route open to us, the River Trent.

Apologies to those who get their updates by email. You won’t be able to see the map from victron as it was embedded in the post. The IT department may see if he can replace this today, but you have already received the post, so you won’t be reading this bit anyway!

The Pumpkin In The Room. 2nd June

Plank Lane to almost Dunham School Bridge, Bridgewater Canal

Our start was delayed by Mick having to return the car to Enterprise this morning. As I worked on a couple of new ideas for panto, scribbling them down in my sketch book John was sending through new ideas and new excerpts from the script. I had to pause to read through what he was sending and adjust things accordingly.

Once Mick was back we soon were ready to push off. It suddenly got very busy! NB Petroc was pulling in for water and then most probably to use the bridge. As we pulled out another two boats approached, one immediately taking our mooring the other pulling in behind the line of moored boats.

Being on the flat for a few days it’s time for me to take advantage of not being needed to work locks or bridges and crack on with work. A planned place to pull up for lunch was agreed, this would coincide with a zoom meeting with John.

I stayed up top to pass Pennington Flash a very popular mooring, we’d have moved up last night if there hadn’t been the car to return. Then it was time to scan images, add a few new references to folders I’ve shared with John, all the time keeping an eye open as to where we were. In Leigh I popped up top as we said farewell to the Leeds Liverpool and hello to the Bridgewater Canal, you now have to book your passage on the C&RT website before entering.

Marsh Orchid?

Mick pulled Oleanna into the bank at 12:40 right alongside what I thought were orchids. My meeting went well, just a couple of small adjustments and things I want to alter when I make the white card model. We’ve come up with a slightly different idea regarding the coach, normally the design is based around a pumpkin, well I’m not going to say anymore as I don’t want to spoil it for those who’ve already booked tickets.

Cruising through builders tea

No stopping here or the day, we have a schedule to keep up with and today we needed to skirt round Manchester. A boat came past just as we were ready. This chap was cruising whilst his dog followed him along on the towpath. The boat’s speed left something to be desired! We trundled along in and out of gear following.

Tilly likes the drawing board

With my drawing board set up on the dinette table I got on with sketching out a groundplan and trying to solve problems I’ve given myself. The flying bars just aren’t quite in the right place and an angled wall is a touch annoying, but I’ll get there.

Landmarks still need to be seen. Worsley with it’s half timbered building and orange water. There were a couple of interesting boats moored at the boatyard and photos were being taken of a wedding party.

Very blue today

I managed a photo of the lighthouse and then made sure I waved towards our friend Cat who lives just by the M602. Then it was time to be back up on deck as we approached the Barton Swing Aqueduct, thankfully no ships were passing on the Ship Canal today so we could cross without a long wait.

On the far side of the aqueduct a boat faced us, a zoom in with the camera showed that it was moored to the bridge bollards, hope it’s left enough space for a widebeam to get past!

Onwards past the Trafford Centre to Waters Meeting. I bobbed my head out of the bow doors to make sure Mick would be turning right. Just because I’m working doesn’t mean I can shirk my navigational duties.

Not THE facade

Mick thinks there were more boats moored on the Bridgewater than he remembers, meaning our progress was slower. Through Sale and on to Altringham where I bobbed back outside again so that I could see what has happened with the development at the Linotype Works. The clock tower still stands and the base of a chimney, but where was the frontage? Had they removed the writing?

He doesn’t like them either!

No, the iconic building which was going to be converted into flats was deemed not structurally sound, so had to be taken down. The developers are going to rebuild it using as much of the original materials as possible as it’s a listed building. Have to say we don’t think a lot of the new builds surrounding it, in fact they are pretty ugly from the canal, maybe they are more eye pleasing from the road.

This has potential!

Not far now, we’d wanted to moor near to Dunham Massey tonight, but time was ticking on. So as soon as we reached somewhere green enough without a nearby road we pulled in and gave Tilly three quarters of an hour of shore leave. At first she didn’t think much of it, too many runners and woofers. But then she must have discovered the meadow behind the fence, she was gone for quite a while. I heard her bell, only to find that she’d found a friend to bring home. A badly timed walker on the towpath meant Tilly headed for Oleanna where the front doors were open and a chink in the cratch cover allowed her access! Damn!!!

Soon after we’d settled in we were joined by another three boats, at least one setting up a barbecue. We settled for Crispy Lemon stir fried chicken.

0 locks, 18.8 miles, 2 canals, 1 right, 1 aqueduct, 1 wave to Cat, 1 thumbs up, 1 pumpkin in the room, 1 sketch groundplan, 2 portals drawn up, 1 iconic building gone, 1 friend or should I say starter! 1 almost Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Nebo Webinar. 1st June

Plank Lane

Where’s Tom? This outside needs changing!

Back in Scarborough Mick happened to arrive the day after a builder had been to do some work on our roof. Hopefully the areas we can’t see have been done as well as those we can. Mick also discovered a blocked drain. As we’ve been paying for insurance for such things he made a phone call for someone to come out today to unblock it. Unfortunately this meant extending the car hire as he’d never make it back across the Pennines in time. So slightly more expensive than it should have been, but better to get it sorted today.

Lots of tall greenery

The front flower bed, which had our first humanmade compost added earlier this year is thriving! Mick sprinkled on some wild flower seeds to add to anything left from last year. We’ve still to see any flowers other than the bluebells that have been there for years.

Meanwhile back on Oleanna.

Boats have been coming and going most of the day. The Hotel Boat Lady Teal came past the chap at the helm giving a running commentary to guests sat on the roof. This was far more convivial than the language being used on a shiny widebeam between husband and wife. I thought boating was meant to be relaxing, life better by water and all that! I’m not sure what the argument was about, but I don’t give their wonderful life afloat together long!

A little taster

Act 2 of panto was re-read and scribbled sketches made. I’d thankfully finished in time to join a webinar at 11am.

Nebo is a boat logging app that was developed by Stephen Winter in Australia. It tracks your journeys and then sends you a report at the end of a days cruise. You can also use it to share your journeys and information with other boaters and friends. We first came across it when the Goole Escape happened, our friend David suggested it so that we’d all be able to see where we were on the Ouse as we headed to Selby.

Every now and then we used it to track our journeys during the following year and when we heard that Water Explorer was going to be no more we hunted round for a different way to track our journeys. Nebo came to the front and we’ve been using it for every journey since January. It’s use by narrowboaters has increased this year, more dots appearing on the map, so the chaps at Nebo wanted to do a webinar to go through new features that they will be launching in a week or so and to get feedback from boaters here in the UK, especially on the inland waterways as Nebo was mainly developed for use at sea and on rivers. It’s used extensively in Australia and the USA.

Stephen explained how the tracking works, the app which you can download onto a phone or tablet uses GPS to track your movements through Geofences, octagonal (I think he said) areas that can be identified as locations. We were shown how the geofences work around Sydney Harbour. Here in the UK they are working hard to geofence the inland waterways. So far on our journeys this year we only get the occasional named place that we’d been through or visited. On none geofenced stretches you get co-ordinates instead.

They are working at adding locks and tunnels so that you can see how long you were underground and log how many locks you’ve been through. Currently we have to do this manually, which lets face it isn’t that hard, but it would be nice if the report you get at the end of the day listed when you travelled through these.

Photos can be uploaded to show features to other users. You can chat to boats that are ahead of you, send messages and display your clubs burgee should you want to. It could make for quite a social app.

As an alternative to the app you can buy a Nebolink which is wired into your boats battery bank and has a GPS and a sim card built in. This will automatically track your journeys, starting as you move from a mooring and stopping after you’ve been stationary for a while. As with the app on a phone this will send you a daily log of your days voyages. Here’s ours from yesterday. Each month you also get a monthly report.

With the new version there will be new features such as being able to see previous journeys you’ve made should you want to.

Feedback was invited from the 18 or so UK boaters. Geofencing locks, bridges and tunnels was a main request. You can also give people a link to be able to track your location, this is being improved in the new version.

There was also the suggestion that maybe stoppage notices could be added, heights of bridges, lock dimensions, locations of services. All useful navigational information if you are using the app on a phone as you cruise.

Waterway Routes

We use Waterway Routes for this information, it is very comprehensive. Information includes types of moorings, duration of moorings, towpath types access onto towpaths, winding holes (and their available length), water points, elsans, pump outs, rubbish bins, recycling bins, diesel, gas, boatyards etc. etc. All sorts of information that are useful for boaters and towpath users. We know it is as up to date and as accurate as it can be. As we travel we help update details giving Paul five figure grid references of things we spot that have changed. Paul travels the waterways himself both by boat and by bike regularly, quite an undertaking.

Many a boater will sing the praises of Open Canal Map which is free and can be updated by users, but the accuracy isn’t, for want of a better word, policed. When we’ve looked at it in an area we’re in we find mistakes or old information which isn’t helpful. .

Nebo is having an upgrade in the next few weeks with three levels of subscription. Starter which is free. Silver and Gold (which uses a nebolink) will be subscription based. I believe everyone will get a chance to see what is offered with a silver subscription for a month for free when it is first launched.

We look forward to more geofencing of the UK waterways and may upgrade ourselves to the silver subscription. If they develop a wifi version of nebolink I suspect we will purchase one, but for navigational information we will stick with Waterway Routes. I can’t see that Nebo would ever have such copmprehensive and up to date information as Waterway Routes currently has.

A very informative webinar and nice to meet, even if on line, the Founder and CEO who I think have found a hole to fill in the UK.

The rest of the day was spent working on sketches for panto, working in adjustments I’d talked about with John. I got a third story board together, but suspect there is still more to do.

Chap in a flat cap

A walk around the new housing opposite, showed the use of astroturf and real hedging. I came across a couple of sculptures. One to mark the Bickershaw Colliery Disaster in 1932 where twenty miners entered the cage to lower them down the number three shaft to the pit face. During the descent the equipment malfunctioned and descended too far submerging it and the miners into a flooded chamber at the bottom of the shaft. Only one miner survived.

Carved from a tree

In the centre of the development is a carving of Private Alfred Wilkinson. Alfred was in the Manchester Regiment and was a recipient of the Victoria Cross for volunteering to deliver a message in Marou France in 1918, being exposed to extreme gunfire for 600 yards. He died at the age of 43 in 1940 of carbon monoxide poisoning at Bickershaw Colliery.

When’s Tom going to be home?!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 blocked drain, 1 extra day with a car, Act 2, 3rd storyboard, 1hour nebo, 1 wave to David and Tim, 7:45pm return.

Lifting The Swing. 31st May

Dover Lock to Plank Lane

No need to rush this morning as we’d only got a short distance to cover. So a cuppa in bed was enjoyed then over breakfast I added notes to my sketches for panto and sent them off so that John could have a good look before my meeting with him later on in the day.

Surely we can stay another day!

We pushed off at around10:30 and pootled our way towards Plank Lane. Passing the Dover Lock Inn, it’s such a sad sight. It’s been empty for years and has certainly had an inferno inside. A sign along the towpath says ‘Canalside Care The Dover Lock Inn, Working in partnership to improve the local environment’ ! Wonder how long that’s been there?

What a sorry state

Soon we arrived at Plank Lane. The bridge here forms part of a busy road and time limits have been put on it so as not to hold up the traffic during rush hour. You cannot work the panel between 8 – 9:30am and 4:30 – 6pm. We were well out of those times, but I still had to wait a while before I felt there was a gap in the traffic.

Red light is for traffic from the car park

Pressing the OPEN button seemingly does nothing for a while, that seems to let any cars waiting through the bridge before it drops the barriers. By the time all traffic lights turned red I’d already caught a few cars. At panels like this I always make sure I read the instructions before operating the bridge. Press and hold today.

Open sesame!

Looking up from the panel there was a newish sign in blue saying not to open the bridge all the way up, but just enough to get through, as when fully opened it may get stuck! You would be seriously unpopular then!

A top up of the water tank, the pressure now we’re on the flat considerably less than up in the hills, this took quite some time. Should we pull up behind the next boat or carry on a little bit further? Further was preferable so that Tilly was less likely to head towards the road. Spikes hammered in, cat let out.

This would do us for the night. I spent the afternoon quickly jotting down some new ideas to show John I’d had this morning, then realised that my meeting was via teams. We’ve only used Teams once about two years ago, clicking the link to join the meeting with just a couple of minutes before it started wasn’t wise. Updates, then passwords that had to be changed as we seemingly didn’t remember the correct one. Then it said no way! My IT department deserted me to cycle off to collect a car! All really annoying, but John and I got there in the end via zoom.

Has Liz Truss been along here?

My meeting was good, my basic setting was given a big thumbs up, but I’d maybe been being a touch cautious on the built pieces of scenery. The budget hasn’t risen this year, so this was a good thing. But with a director who wants to push the budget to it’s maximum there were plenty of new ideas to add to the mix. Numerous notes were taken and I’d just put them into understandable order when Mick returned.

He loaded the car with a big bag of washing and our first bucket of offerings for this year to return to the house. He also dropped off a large click and collect shopping order that needed stowing away. Then off he headed back to Scarborough for the night, checking on Olivia our new lodger and to wash our socks and pants, along with a dentist appointment tomorrow.

Sunset over the basin opposite

Boats arrived to fill with water, others carried on through the lift bridge, plenty of footfall on the towpath that Tilly managed to dash her way through to the friendly cover. An evening of working my way back through panto, Act 1 completed new squiggles of ideas. Tomorrow I’ll do Act 2 and then translate the squiggles for others to view.


Prawn and pea risotto tonight for me and a Tempo Special for Mick, both things we each like but the other one doesn’t. Looking at Facebook this evening I came across news from Peter Baxter the volunteer at Wigan. More pounds on the flight had been drained last night on the flight so passage had been impossible again today. Thankfully the pound worst affected isn’t that big, so the hope is that tonight the bywashs will top it up sufficiently to be used tomorrow. This does mean though that volunteers may not be quite where boaters would like them to be (right ahead of them) as they may be doing more important things managing the water down the flight so passage is possible all the way up or down.

0 locks, 2 miles, 1 lift bridge, 14 held up, 1 full water tank, 2 boxes wine, 6 bottles, 1 slightly squished melon, 1 panto meeting, 2 pages notes, 1 bag of dirty washing transported to Scarborough, 10C lower than at Plank Lane.

Wigan Crew. 30th May

Bridge 61 to Dover Lock, Leigh Branch Leeds Liverpool Canal

Here they come!

With a rendez vous to keep the alarm had been set and we were up, breakfasted, covers rolled up and pushing off at bang on 7:30am. Just as we’d got going a look behind, we were being followed. NB That’s It, they’d been moored a couple of bridges behind us last night.

The queue

As thought yesterday there were two boats waiting at the top lock. The lock was still locked and it was a little while before a Lock Keeper arrived and did the honours. The two boats ahead of us turned into the lock whilst we tried to get off whatever it is just before the lock moorings that we were stuck on top of.

The lock was reset just as Peter Baxter arrived at the top lock. He had a quick chat with a chap clearing out the bywashes and then started to walk down the flight resetting the next lock on our descent. Peter was awarded Lock Keeper of the year 2022. The Wigan Flight Crew page and it’s files is a wealth of information on the locks. It’s well worth a look as if you are unlucky to have to do the flight without a volunteers assistance you will be aware of which gates are problematic (never open the near side tail gate at lock 75, unless you really really have to as it is a right b**er to shut), where to mind the dog shit, which locks have serious leaks and where to stand for the best photo of the flight.

Our prep at Johnson’s Hillock Locks the other day proved worth while. It was agreed to only open one gate when leaving the locks. NB That’s It would leave first then Mick would push Oleanna’s bow over using our bow thruster and exit the lock. This meant should one of us need to go ahead to set the next lock they wouldn’t be leaving two heavy gates to be closed behind. It also meant we tried to take it in turns to shift the big heavy gates.

It turned out that neither of us needed to walk on ahead as Peter was doing a great job. Every so often he’d give us some guidance on the next lock, you’ll need your windows closed, two of you on that beam. At one lock he set it filling and then walked on ahead, not opening the gates, this was because two people were needed to open it up and he knew we’d be along soon.

Last week we’d seen on Facebook that a couple of the pounds on the flight had been drained overnight. Paddles had been lifted at both ends of the locks. One of the pounds included a side arm which most of the time is useful for extra water. But with it being drained it meant it took two days to refill it, so the flight was closed, however no C&RT notice was sent out. Keeping an eye on the Flight Group was good, as soon as there was enough water in the two pounds the volunteers were helping boats back on their way.

A drink and biscuits, or Bakewell slices were required just after the halfway mark to up the energy levels. Arms were starting to get tired after all the windlass winding and gate pulling and pushing.

Now we started to meet uphill boats. Two breasted up as one boat was a single hander. The crew from the other boat weren’t too happy with this as they’d planned on teaming up with another boat and felt as if the single hander had jumped the queue! She was at least off her boat helping, but did try closing a gate before we’d got both our boats in the lock to come down.

As we walked down to the last lock of the 21 Peter had been joined by John Gallimore, who I believe set up the Facebook group and another John. Jo and I were treated to stepping back onboard our boats and getting a ride down the last lock we’d share before heading off in different directions.

It actually turns out we have met before, last year at Sykehouse Lock on the New Junction Canal. They were coming down the lock when we arrived, which is most probably why I didn’t recognise their boat.

The Wigan Crew. Pip, Jo, Brian and Mick

The flight took us 3 hours 29 minutes and 20 seconds, not that I was counting or anything! Possibly the best trip up or down the flight we’ve had. Good company, a good routine, with the chaps closing gates, us only opening one and of course the help from Peter and the boats ahead filling the locks ahead for us. It was almost a pleasure.

Time to say goodbye. Enjoy your summer

At the junction with the Leigh Branch, NB That’s It headed straight on, it looked like there were two boats waiting to go down Henhurst Lock. We biped our horn and waved goodbye as we turned left towards Manchester.

Still afloat at Poolstock

Last year due to low water levels you had to book to go through Poolstock Locks, thankfully today the water levels seemed pretty good. The top lock was set against us , the second had a boat just coming up and a whole host of volunteers cleaning and tidying, painting lock beams and the railings on the bridge.

See ya!

We’d planned to stop for the day at Scotsmans flash, but when we got there it felt a little billy no mates, so we carried on in the sunshine and pulled in at a mooring just before Dover Locks. Here Tilly was given four hours shore leave and we’ve hardly seen her all afternoon! Who needs the Yorkshire Dales with it’s views when you can find plenty of friends around the mining subsidence of Lancashire!

23 locks, 7 miles, 21 shared, 1 volunteer all the way down, 3 stem ginger cookies, 4 bakewell slices, 1 pint water, factor 30, 1 left, 8 volunteers, 1 big pot of hammarite smooth, 1st Mrs Tilly stamp of approval this trip!