Narrowboat AREandARE

From the 2009 & 2010 tantalising tales, traumas and stunning photographs of Barry (photographer) and Sandra (writer) from New Zealand aboard NB 'Northern Pride', to the stories of their 2013 return journey, purchase of 'AREandARE', progress on sustaining their live aboard continuous cruiser lifestyle, and Barry's quest to gain residency and 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' in UK ...

Monday 24 August 2009

Narrowboats and Fishermen

Firstly, grateful thanks to John ( for emailing us with information on an improved method of posting and editing our blog which also enables viewers to click onto links without losing your place (  We’ve tried it out on Sunday’s and today’s blog and it's much quicker to post and the links seem to work!  And Barry is also happy that the photos are a better quality on the screen - I’m sure you’ll agree …

Our aim today was to leave Wigan and get to the junction of the Leeds/Liverpool and Bridgewater canal, only about seven miles away. There were three locks to do (alone again!), but nothing too strenuous. At the third lock some passing cyclists stopped for a look and we got chatting. Ian had been brought up in Wigan and fondly recalled how, as a boy, he’d travelled the canals with friends on their bikes hitching long rides on strangers narrowboats. Not like the few yards we’ve been taking the odd child on! Ian is now living in California and had brought his American wife back to see his hometown. We showed them around the boat, and the map of where we’ve travelled on the canals and rivers of Britain since mid April. Unfortunately Barry missed getting a photo of them, but they did get the obligatory blog card …

P1090880 If only happy English wrote graffiti, there wouldn’t be so much of it!  Or maybe this was one of the seven dwarves passing by?

The landscape changes just outside of Wigan, with the canal sitting above the rest of the countryside due to severe mining subsidence in the area. The canals have been built up using pit waste and seem solid enough, but it was a little disconcerting to imagine coal mines beneath us that could potentially give way at any time!

As we approached Plank Lane Swing Bridge (which is actually a lift bridge with an inaccurate name!), I drove rather too close to a fisherman who shook his head scathingly. Now I’m usually very courteous to fishermen, despite the fact that they choose some very random and hard to see spots, and know I'm supposed to move to the other side of the canal and slow down, but this man and his mates were right next to the mooring pins for the lift bridge that I needed to drop Barry off at, so to have to move over and then negotiate back in seemed to me too ridiculous (and I may not have made it!). There really needs to be a bit more reciprocity in these fisherman/narrowboat scenarios, and I personally believe they should respect our challenge of steering a heavy boat into moorings and not fish in stupid places!! Barry was on the fisherman’s side (being the expert driver who would’ve found it no problem to steer around and back again!), so I was a little miffed with him to say the least …

After all that palaver, the lift bridge was manned by BW (and if we'd been paying attention to the Nicholson's Guide we'd have been aware of that!), and we stopped immediately before it for a pump out and water pump in. The facilities were right in the entrance to the bridge, so if there was another boat waiting they’d have to sit there while you get rid of your s--t!  Yet again a bizarrely situated but invaluable nonetheless, pump-out station!

P1090883 Through the swing/lift bridge over a very busy road …

P1090884and out the other side swiftly

Shortly afterwards we drove past Pennington Flash Country Park, a 200 hectare area that we’ll probably go and visit tomorrow, if the weather is kind to us!


Pennington Flash, one of the ‘flashes’, or lakes formed from the flooded coal mines

A mile or so later and we moored up for the night at the mill town of Leigh, on the changeover of the two canals (though the only sign of the difference is a ‘plank crane’ at the side of the canal; not your normal junction!), and visited the ALDI supermarket right on the side of the canal. I have to say I was impressed with their range of food, maybe these ‘cheap’ foreign supermarkets are improving.  I find it fascinating to go round them and see what delights they have from Europe that you wouldn’t normally find in Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s (or maybe I just don't look hard enough?). Today I found some Bratwurst sausages from Germany, and a zywiecka pepper sausage from Poland, amongst other things! They say variety is the spice of life …


 'The Waterside Inn' opposite our mooring


Geese against the railings of the pub

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