Wigan Flight and Dover Lock, Abram

We took on the Wigan Flight today. We got up early and left just after 8:00 along with NB Bees Knees. Our aim was to get as much locking done before it got too hot. Today the top temperature was forecast to be 25 degrees C.

NB Ellie May had already left, around 7:00, to get well ahead of us, but we were to catch up with them down the flight. Their day started badly because overnight a Buckby can was stolen from their roof.

View from the top of the Wigan Flight

A well-worn bollard at Lock 1, Wigan Flight

The Locks in the Wigan Flight are numbered (from the top lock) with Roman Numerals

Kirklees Hall Inn

We got down to Lock 8 and found Ellie May moored up waiting for BW to fix a paddle mechanism. It appeared that the Woodruff Key driving the top gear had fallen out and jammed the mechanism stopping the paddle being lowered.  I went back to Albert to get some tools and returned just in time to find the BW operatives arriving. It turned out that the BW men had no tools with them so all they could do was operate the paddle with a windlass. I managed to move the gear train with a large pair of grips and remove the key. This meant the paddle could be lowered and the lock operated, albeit with one less operational paddle.

My cousin Ralph Greenhalgh, who lives locally, came and helped us with the flight. His help was valuable but it was bit of hard introduction to boating. However, he appeared to enjoy his day - all twenty three locks.

Ralph Greenhalgh operating a lock paddle

Further down the flight we found Ellie May aground in a pound that was well down. We let down some water from the pound above and got her afloat. The pound remained low and Albert, being deep draughted struggled a little to get into the lock.

A bracing structure on the Wigan Flight

We took a break from our exertions above Lock 13 and had sandwiches for lunch. Just as we were mooring up two boats passed us going up the flight. One was NB Song of the Waterways, Anton came over to thank me for the blog. It turns out they are following our route but in the opposite direction and are finding our information useful. I hope they enjoy the Leeds & Liverpool as much as we did.

One of a group of small fishes swimming on a lock cill

Bottom Lock number

We said goodbye to Bees Knees at the bottom lock,  they we going north to Liverpool, and we turned down the Leigh Branch towards the south.

Our view of the Wigan Flight is that it is indeed tough and it takes time. The surroundings are pleasant, on the whole, but leaky gates make operating the locks unduly difficult. The flight certainly requires better maintenance since parts of it are in poor condition. Security is difficult to judge from one trip, but we wouldn't raise it as a particular concern. 

The first section of the Leigh Branch passes through flashes where mining subsidence has caused lakes to be formed. We said cheerio to Ralph at the flashes and headed off to Dover Lock Inn, Abram to moor up for the night.

Scotsman's Flash, Wigan

Ince Moss with Rivington in the background

Paradoxically, Dover Lock doesn't have a lock. The locks here were removed when the canal suffered subsidence and were relocated nearer to Wigan. Tomorrow we head for Manchester.