We started the day early with a couple of hours cruising, and then a flight of seven locks. More lock free cruising through the early afternoon, till we got close to Wigan. Canal aficionados don’t talk about Wigan in the same hushed breath as Tardebigge or Caen Hill, but there is still a huge flight of 21 locks plus a couple of bonus locks at the bottom just when you though you were done. It’s just that they are in Wigan. To complicate things, you can currently only enter the flight between 8am and 9am, to conserve water, and they won’t let you out till 2pm. So, we had to get close enough to the top lock today to go down tomorrow morning. We are planning to share locks with Festina Lente again. They are moored right up by the locks and we are about half a mile away.
The boats up here are generally not as whimsically decorated as the ones in the Midlands and the South. You hardly ever see any of the “Roses and Castles” paintwork or sculpture gardens on the roof. We did pass a boat with a nice rooftop garden today, but they are rare up here.
Actually, boats generally are much rarer up here. We went all day Friday without meeting a single boat coming in the other direction. There are a few more boats on the canal at the weekend, including the traditional drunken party boat.
The water lilies are putting on a nice display at the moment. The common variety around here, the Nuphar, has flowers on spikes sticking up about six inches out of the water.
I’m always careful to avoid them with the boat, not because I want to preserve nature, but because it’s a bugger to get weeds wrapped around your prop.
I’m wondering if this is the famous Phyllis May, that Terry Darlington wrote about in Narrow Dog to Wigan Pier?
Probably not unless it’s been repainted, but I had a momentary thrill when I saw the name. Incidentally, if you haven’t read at least Narrow Dog To Carcassonne, I highly recommended it. The book was written during the great quotation mark shortage of 2004 when the punctuation workers went on strike, but what it loses in comprehensibility it makes up for by dodging from exposition to dialog with the agility of a hyperactive whippet.