Branching off to Runcorn

Branching off to Runcorn

It’s a sunny and warm day today. We continued along the Bridgewater Canal, and stopped off at a chandlery to pick up some odds and ends: paint to match the blue color of the hull so we can touch up some of the scrapes, a new shorter chimney to replace the one that viciously attempted to dismantle a bridge the other day. We passed an old style narrowboat. A whole family would sleep, eat, cook, and live in the tiny…

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From Astley’s Circus to Dunham Massey

From Astley’s Circus to Dunham Massey

This is a portrait of Catherine Grey (née Cox) in bedding plants. In the early 1850s she was a trick rider with Astley’s Circus in London (the first modern circus) but she married George Grey, the Seventh Earl of Stamford. They were married for three decades, and she survived him for another two, dying in 1905. Today she is commemorated in the gardens at Dunham Massey, a house that they lived in briefly after they married. Our guide to the…

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Tatton Hall

Tatton Hall

We took our first bike ride of the trip today, four miles mostly uphill (except for the bits that were uphill in the other direction) to Tatton Hall. The estate is enormous. At the gate we were told we have another mile to cycle to the hall. There is a huge herd of deer in the grounds, and according to my research assistant (Paula) the house once had a private airfield. The Egertons (pronounced EJ-ur-ton) owned Tatton from 1598 until…

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They did what?

They did what?

The day started out warm, sunny, and still. I wanted to take advantage of the weather, so I got the boat started while Paula was still in bed. We stopped in the pretty village of Worsley. The canal comes in from the left, and that little channel off to the right is where the coal barges used to enter the canal from the underwater canals. We are now on the oldest part of the English canal system. The Mock Tudor…

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Secrets of the Canals

Secrets of the Canals

We made a later start this morning as one of the lift bridges we wanted to go through doesn’t lift during the rush hour. We passed this sculpture, called Unlock. The artist, Thompson Dagnall, says, “Unlocked is a book holding the secrets and stories of the canals.” But really, you don’t need a bloody great sculpture to tell the secrets and stories of the canals, you just have to read this blog. It was a short cruise to Leigh (pronounced…

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The Canal to Wigan Pier

The Canal to Wigan Pier

Given that there is a book by George Orwell called The Road to Wigan Pier and being artlessly vague about northern geography, I assumed that Wigan was a dismal seaside town, and that Wigan Pier was some Victorian cast iron erection probing the Irish Sea. I imagined some cut price version of Brighton Pier but without the rides or the gay guys, attempting to convince Northerners that a few days getting their wind and rain direct from the ocean rather…

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Approaching Wigan

Approaching Wigan

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…

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Four Thousand Holes

Four Thousand Holes

Ah I read the news today, oh boy Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire And though the holes were rather small They had to count them all Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall The world over, if asked to name a town in Lancashire, most people would give you a blank stare. If you hum the tune and prod them with a pointed stick, a few might remember the lyrics to A Day…

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Reptile Wonderland

Reptile Wonderland

You have to love a town that has a shop called Reptile Wonderland. Come on, you know you want to sing along. Lizards croak, are you listenin’ In the lane, snakes are twisting A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight Walking in a reptile wonderland Here we are in Rishton, Lancashire, a quirky town that also has a dive shop… … and a balti restaurant. For our American readers, a balti is a curry cooked in a metal bowl, and the…

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Towneley Hall

Towneley Hall

It’s not every day you get to say, “Go past the pangolin and turn right at the mummy” but today was one of those days. It was raining again, so we decided to stay in Burnley, and take a look the the civic museum Towneley Hall. The Towneley family lived there for five hundred years before selling the place to Burnley Council in 1901, though the building changed quite a bit over the centuries. It was sold unfurnished apart from…

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