|A last look back at the final Wigan lock|
To be fair, it wasn't such a bad day. The forecast rain held off and, indeed, the sun shone almost too fiercely at times. We were on our own (only once have we done this flight in partnership with another boat) but we are a skilled team: I lockwheel; Mrs B brings the boat in and out and, after coming in, pulls her gate shut and works the paddles on her side.
|The view that says one hour done but three more to go|
Ah, but the Wigan doesn't take kindly to such tricks: some lock gates don't open fully so a pair of boats struggle to get in together and the devilish Lock 75 (is this the worst on the system?) has a final trick - should you open both bottom gates fully, you'll need a passing rugby team to haul them shut again. Open them fully? I barely managed to open them at all!
A lock-keeper was on duty but his main duty was clearing out the ever present weed and keeping lock pounds full. He helped us through one lock but for about 17 of the remaining 20 we had to do the full George – fill them; go in, empty them and go out. In other words, very few boats were coming up the locks: its reputation goes before it.
A shame; it's not that bad (well, actually, it is) but the locals are largely friendly and you get considerable job satisfaction at the end of it all. With just a tad more maintenance, though, it could be so much better.
Anyway, we finished the flight and turned onto the Leigh branch of the canal where two final locks are waiting like a couple of after dinner mints. Despatched, in each case, before a fascinated audience of families and small children (BTW in sufficient numbers these are admirable lock beam operators) we were finally free of locks for the next few days.
I'd been wearing my old pedometer for the occasion and gave it a check: it reckoned I'd walked 7.5 miles. It certainly felt like it!
|Some serious walking the plank tonight|
|But the views across the flooded mine workings are fine|
|Wigan volcano erupts? No, just clouds|