Saturday 27 September 2014

Not ruffled

Rufford, not ruffled. And very nice too. All sorts of things could have ruffled us. Such as the antiquated computers in Burscough library running a very out-of-date Windows and Word 2003 – it even had a post-it note stuck on the front advising you that your first action should be to download Chrome. When it did finally manage to open the Liverpool link application forms emailed me by CRT, it still wouldn't print them. The librarian told me to email them to her for printing – all done in a jiffy, and if we'd tried that first I would have saved half an hour. But she was very helpful – and in what other country could you walk into a local library and immediately be given a free account with internet access? So our application to go down to Liverpool was sent off, and it was time to venture up the Rufford arm.

The first thing you encounter is a swing bridge, the purpose of which seemed doubtful. If you want to cross to the other side there's a hump-back bridge just behind you (see yesterday's post). We weren't ruffled, of course – it swung reasonably easily.

The paddle mechanisms at the first lock were of a type we've never seen before – vertical screws with a windlass handle permanently in place. They weren't difficult – but you had to watch your balance.

They weren't the only oddities we encountered on the set of locks. Most of them had an anti-vandal system of some sort, usually a chain with a lock which opens with a special tool.

Anti-vandal stuff we had met before, but not these paddle mechanisms, with a long wooden lever to had to pull up (if you could) till it had rotated to a vertical position.

Helping newcomers to these systems on the first two locks were Harry and Joan, two CRT volunteers. They weren't ruffled by anything – so they get an honourable mention on this blog.

It wasn't all new stuff, mind you. Some of the paddles were normal windlass-operated types, though even then some of the mechanisms were of the vertical screw type, rather than the usual rack and pinion.

Then it was off through the remainder of the seven locks to Rufford. It's the valley of the River Douglas – wide and open and pretty flat…

except for the occasional hump-backed bridge, most of them rather narrow. They're the honk 'n' hope type. On this occasion the car in the picture just avoided a collision but had to reverse out of the way of something coming in the other direction.

We tied up in an isolated spot for lunch.

Two locks later we met Peter. He had just filled the lock to take a GRP cruiser through, and there wouldn't be room for us as well. But, gentleman that he was, he waved us through first. "I'm in no hurry", he said. Turned out that he'd just bought the cruiser from someone who had let it become quite derelict for the last five years, and was about to have it removed. Peter is now going to restore it – hats off to him. That's something that might ruffle me.

Then it was swing bridge, and on to the last lock of the day where we had an audience.

Probably partly due to this that we failed to notice the previous traveller had carefully used the anti-vandal mechanism to lock a paddle – but had done so with it up. No wonder we couldn't open the bottom gates to exit when it looked as though they should be ready. Grr… Ah well…

And so to Rufford for the night, moored up in the middle of the village, and near an interesting NT property that looks a good visit tomorrow.

Not ruffled at all.


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