My show opened in Derby on Friday night and when Saturday morning arrived I was up early, 5am, to try to get to Manchester as early as I could. The plan was to drive to Hebden Bridge and get the train into Manchester, leaving the car at the station. Hebden was achieved by just gone 8am but I’d just missed a train so had a wait. It was drizzling in Manchester so I got a shuttle bus to near the Royal Exchange, purchased milk and walked up the road at which point I heard, “Ah Miss Leckenby”. Lee, a friend from Scarborough, well he just had to come to Lillian for a cuppa with Mick and Frank.
We set off at around 11am to make our exit from Manchester. One guide book suggested it would take 9 hours to reach a safe haven, another 6! We hung a right and headed for the first lock. There was a boat waiting for the lock to empty with a single hander on board. We offered to share the lock with him as we did the next one too, then we stopped off to fill with water.
We caught back up with him after a couple of locks where a crowd of kids had gathered and were giving him grief. As the boats rose the lads got more out of hand, ice creams flying into the boats and some stones. We left as quickly as we could. The passage out of Manchester was very slow going even though we were travelling with another boat. As the pounds between locks got lower and lower the frequency of trips down weed hatches grew and trips to let more water down from the pounds above. At one point it took us two hours to achieve two locks after removing carpets, clothes, duvets, curtains from propellers. Kids asked Frank if we’d got any guns on board. A lot of hard work from all four of us. Time was getting on and we needed to get to Chadderton for a safe mooring for the night.
At around 7.30pm Derek, on the other boat, mentioned something about the Bridgewater Canal, at which point we all realised that 16 locks back he should have turned left instead of right, he’d have missed out on 12 trips down his weed hatch and so much more. BY this point he really didn’t want to turn round and head back, so is planning on extending his trip out by a couple of weeks just to get home via a different route.
We rang a pub that had been recommended to book a table for food and were told that we’d need to be there by 8.45pm. This might have been possible but for the lift bridge and just a few more locks. We eventually pulled up at 8.50pm and went to get a takeaway listening to the peacocks from across the cut.
20 locks, 7 miles, 1 lift bridge, 26 trips down the weed hatch, 7 pounds filled up, 1 wrong turn.