Wigan – and on, and on

Most people know George Orwell of 1984 fame wrote a book called the Road to Wigan Pier, but in 1946 he also wrote an essay in which he described his ideal pub – the Moon Under Water. In his honour, I hope, there is a Wetherspoons pub in Wigan called The Moon Under Water. Is it the ideal pub? Of course not. But we still had lunch and a couple of drinks there.

Definitely not the ideal pub

In the event we got very well acquainted with Wigan indeed. The plan was we would cruise into Wigan after another nice weekend at Parbold, and go up the 21 locks of the Wigan Flight with Sean on nb Eeyore on Tuesday. But you know what happens with plans? Things tend to happen to wreck them. We got a message just before we set off that there was a car in one of the lock pounds on the Wigan flight, which was closed to boats until it could be removed.

We entered Wigan a little nervously. We’d heard many tales of antisocial behaviour towards boats and boaters, and it wasn’t a place we were anxious to stay. I can only speak from our experience, but that proved to be completely false. We had a quiet mooring and no bother. It helped that there were two boats together. We had plenty of time to explore the town, which has a couple of nice parks and a decent shopping centre. It was perfectly pleasant. On Thursday we watched as the CRT pulled the car, stolen of course, out of the canal.

Probably someone-s pride and joy once.

On Saturday after the queue of boats had cleared on Friday, we tackled the Wigan flight and an extra lock at the bottom for good measure. We had lots of help from the Wigan Flight Crew, all hardy volunteers, and from Trev who got up at 6.30am just to come and help us. Thanks Trev! We got to the top in under 4 hours, where we said au revoir to Sean.

Wigan Flight – up the creek with 138 paddles since 1816!

The next day I got my reward for all those locks. We could have driven to Fredericks Ice Cream Parlour in 20 minutes from our home mooring in Rufford. Far more fun to wait until we could moor up outside on a sunny bank holiday Sunday.

I worked for it, I deserved it, and it totally met my expectations

Then it was on to Johnsons Hillock Locks. At the top we were meeting Trev and Jen to cruise to Skipton with them over the next couple of weeks. It was a good day, the sun was shining, the locks were benign, we had another boat and crew to share with – until I fell over my own feet, or a capstan depending on who tells the story – and literally faceplanted the towpath. Result one split lip, two knees like tennis balls and a badly bruised hand. There will be no photos of me on this blog or social media until I look a little less like someone who’s just done a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson. I have to thank Therese on nb Nauti Buoy who sacrificed the ice that was going into her G&T to my bruises.

So yesterday we went nowhere. Trev suggested a mooring at a lovely hamlet called Withnell Fold, and we had a day of leisure, and for me, recovery. We cleaned the boat and Martyn and I went exploring. It’s a peaceful and picturesque little place, basically a square with houses on three sides and a set of stocks completing it. The village grew up in 1834 to house the workers from a paper mill on the banks of the canal, now long closed, although reputed to have made the paper for our bank notes among other products. If it hadn’t been for my accident we never would have found it. There’s lots of information about it online.

A day off in Withnell Fold

Update on offererings to the Canal Gods:

  • Another side fender on the Wigan flight
Jenny and Ralf enjoying life on the towpath. What a treasure he is, and what a good boy at only 7 months old

10 Replies to “Wigan – and on, and on”

  1. Ouch! I prescribe additional ice creams to speed healing. Martyn must kiss the boo-boos gently and pet and cosset you and make much of you during your recovery. Xxxooo

  2. Hope the bruising is getting better Mandella, plenty of ice cream and gin I suggest.
    You’re discovering places we never knew in our home county, we must venture back there soon.
    Great blog have fun and stay safe
    Rob & Di

    1. Hello Rob and Di,

      We’ve discovered so far the North West has a lot going for it. The thing I miss most from Dorset is the coastline, but you can’t have everything! Xx

  3. Please please take care, as you know good people are scarce. Hope you feel better soon.

    1. Thanks Diana, I’ll definitely try to be less clumsy. It just shows how easily these things happen. Hope you, Jim and Jotun are having a splendid trip south.

  4. So happy you made it through, but oh dear….. really hope you are not in too much pain Mandela. Enjoy the gods county, Yorkshire. 😁

    1. It’s getting better day by day Christine. Apart from that we’re enjoying the journey. Yorkshire here we come!

  5. Just read the article on living on houseboats in last Saturday’s Money section of the Daily Telegraph. The Bickerstaffe Boat Company featured in a couple of paragraphs.
    Hope you’re fully recovered now Mandella and Beau Romer is on the move again.

    1. Hello Anne and Les, we’ll be off again next week, all being well. Thanks for the heads up about the Telegraph article. We hadn’t seen it, even though I’d got a subscription!

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