Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Buttercup’s Great Escape

This morning the sky looked ominous and we needed to ascend the Barrowford Flight (7 locks).  After donning all our wet weather gear I set the first two locks and we waited to see if a lock partner might join us.  Not our day!

Jan had worked me through the bottom lock when local boater “John” appeared complete with handcuff key and windlass.  I had assisted him and his daughter part the way down the flight on Sunday and at the time he had informed me he would do the same for us on Tuesday.  I hadn’t expected him to arrive and we were most grateful for his assistance with the ascent.

Of course the heavens opened and we did much of the flight in driving rain, hence no photos.  Waiouru was in lock 5 of the flight and not rising all that much. Actually the volume of water entering the lock from the top gate paddles seemed limited.  Obviously I was down in the lock and therefore couldn’t see over the gates to the pound ahead.  John then called out that the pound ahead was nearly empty.  Jan had gone forward and released the water from lock 6 in the flight but that wasn’t sufficient.  She then had to go to the top lock and release more water.  John then opened the lock top gates to show a very low pound ahead.  Actually I didn’t think Waiouru would make it over the upper gate cill.  And I was proved right!  Jan had to run even more water down for me to creep very slowly over the cill and across the pound.  Things got easier after that and we completed the flight without any further difficulty.  It’s obvious some of the lock gates on this flight leak very badly.

We moored at the top and filled the water tank.  John joined us inside Waiouru for a hot mug of tea and a chat whilst the tank filled.  He didn’t want his custard cream biscuit so I got lucky!  My luck then changed attempting to remove the snap coupling off the water tap.  I managed to rip my index finger on a sharp edge to the stainless steel shroud.  I was bleeding like a stuck pig.  Jan told me to elevate my finger but all that did was allow the blood to run down my arm.  It was easier to point the finger at the ground and start decorating the concrete.  Jan produced a band-aid.  Then a second band-aid.  A third band-aid.  She finally stopped the flow with a fourth band-aid.  Booths the chemists are going to love our next visit.

We said our goodbye’s to John and headed east towards Foulridge Tunnel.  Both Jan and I commented that the mooring above the flight looked better than our mooring below.  But then we were sheltered at the bottom which was probably a good thing given the high winds we’ve experienced over the last two days.

Foulridge Tunnel was made famous in 1912 when Buttercup the cow made a dash for freedom jumping into the canal at the western end and swimming the length of the tunnel (1488 metres) emerging exhausted at the eastern end where she was revived with a few brandy’s by the patrons of the nearby “Hole in the Wall” pub.

The tunnel is controlled by traffic lights which change on the half hour.

By the time the lights changed to green there were four boats waiting.  The grandparents on the lead boat had two grandsons with them who sang (in key) all the way through. 

Having entered the tunnel in very wet weather we exited the far end to sunshine.  Perhaps we were now in Yorkshire? Smile  There is a well patronised cafe at the other side of the tunnel and the smell of hot chips was quite tantalizing.  Particular as we hadn’t had much for lunch. 

But we avoided the temptation and pushed on.

We had been told the countryside would be much more attractive after Barrowford Locks and that’s appears to be true.

It’s a month since we last had the toilet tank emptied and whilst it hasn’t reached half full we decided that as the canal is rather shallow we’d have it emptied at Lower Park Marina.  The staff there were friendly and gave the tank a good rinse and pump out (£15).  Waiouru is now a couple of inches higher at the stern. If we return via the Rochdale Canal we’ll probably empty it again before attempting the transit.

Moored just short of Barnoldwick.  Jan is going to check the local butcher tomorrow and has also heard from the locals good things about the local bakery <yum>.

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