Monday 22 June 2015


You could take a photo of Erin Mae going backwards down a lock, but it's only the eagle-eyed who would spot that she wasn't rising – assuming that the paddle gear was in the picture. So there didn't seem a lot of point in taking that photo today. But backwards down Wardle Lock we went.

We'd thought we'd wait to set out until the weather cleared up a bit, as was promised for about mid-day. The plan had been to go up through the next lock, travel the three miles to the winding hole, turn around and come back past our mooring spot, carry on down to Middlewich junction and turn left for Manchester. By the time we felt like be-stirring ourselves, a string of boats had gone up, and we were told we would be about tenth in line for the lock. And that was just on the upwards leg.

So I decided to have a go at reversing back to Wardle lock. It was just under half a mile, and entailed traversing four bridges before the lock, plus the one at the junction. I'm happy, proud and relieved in equal measure to say that it went rather well, and on the way I learned the technique of using the long pole at crucial points to keep on line – narrowboats have a mind of their own when going backwards. The main concern was the health of one boating couple coming the other way, who couldn't quite believe what they were seeing as I beckoned them through a bridge. It was also fun to see the look of surprise on the faces of the boaters waiting to come up Wardle Lock as I emerged backwards, first from the lock and then from the bridge at the junction.

In the end we probably saved ourselves 3 hours by this exercise. We had to negotiate the traffic jams at Middlewich Narrowboats, and get down three more locks. On the way we stopped for water. There were a couple of rather backward boaters tied up at the water point above Big Lock.

You're not supposed to obstruct the point in this way. The couple in the grey boat had a licence from the Bridgewater Canal, and perhaps don't know the etiquette in the main network, but "The King" ought to have known better. Anyway, we tied up alongside him – he wasn't there – and got our water. Tonight the wind has got up and we've moored up a hundred yards below the Big Lock, in a slightly awkward corner spot. So we're hoping we're not going to bang against the bank all night.


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