A stoppage at Wigan

After getting dressed up in my new birthday frock (present from my lovely daughters) last Sunday we headed out to the Hop Vine in Burscough for my birthday dinner. As you can see we had a table right beside the resident guitarist who, luckily, was quiet and good.

ReadyForDinner     SerenadedAtDinner

The meal was brilliant and I had a wonderful evening before heading back to the boat for a glass of vintage port. Perfect birthday.

Since then we’ve been making our way slowly towards Wigan, a town that has had more than its fair share of canal problems in the past few weeks. First there was a fire in a property adjacent to the canal which stopped navigation, then a boat banged into one of the locks on the Wigan flight so hard that the gate buckled closing the flight for several days. Finally, on the Leigh Branch, where we would like to go, a lock paddle has been badly damaged and needs to be replaced. Boats have been able to progress through, with CRT help, for an hour each day while they wait for specially made stop planks, as apparently they’re an odd size.

We arrived there yesterday wanting to stay for just a couple of days, hoping that the planks wouldn’t arrive until Monday. We went along to have a look at the lock last night and it wasn’t looking overly healthy.


This sign was attached to the bottom gate. It’s been recycled from the earlier Wigan Flight stoppage with appropriate deletions and amendments. Good to see that they’re not wasting our licence fees.

RecycledSignWe found out this morning, when we went along again to watch the morning’s batch of boats go through, that this isn’t actually the gate with the problem. It’s one of the top paddles that is broken. Maybe they’ll also do something about the bottom leaky gates while they’ve got the lock drained.

There were a fair few staff there to help boats through.


When they came to open the gate we found out why. With only one  paddle working and the lock leaking like a sieve, it took the combined strength of these three blokes to get the gate open.

OpeningTheGateWe took the opportunity to have a chat with them and ask if it would be possible to go through on Sunday or Monday. The answer was, Sunday should be OK but Monday was doubtful. Perfect for us. We left them to their labours and headed off into town to shop.

BoatInLockJust up the canal we came across the shiny new stop planks being loaded onto a CRT work boat and got a completely different story.

StopPlankDeliveryThe work gang supervisor told us that work was going to start straight away and that passage wasn’t going to be possible until it’s finished, perhaps on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Luckily this isn’t a big issue for us as we’ve got plenty of time. We’re heading towards Northwich for Gordon to have a minor op. We don’t have an exact date but apparently we’ll be given a week’s notice. It’s only a few days from here so we should be absolutely fine. Even if the stoppage lasts longer than expected, it’s a short train journey to Northwich from Wigan, so we’ve got every angle covered!

So that’s us enjoying the delights of Wigan for a few days. It gives Gordon a perfect opportunity to get on with painting the boat and me a chance to do some stained glass work for nb Oakapple. That’s the theory at the moment anyway.

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