A Chill In The Air

Dunham MasseyArriving back to the boat in a completely different place was an interesting experience. The tiMurkster Dunham Masseyllerman had put in a good few hours meaning a relatively lengthy tram ride from Piccadilly. A beautiful mooring, but as predicted, the countryside now comes complete with mud, making The Murkster even less appealing than he already was.

A walk in watery sunshine this morning, contemplating the problem that re-rearedBridgewater canal it’s ugly head yesterday morning, a busted Eberspacher, only this time it seems worse than ever, making no effort to start whatsoever and consequently a pretty chilly back half of the boat. Wafts of lemon meringue pie/diesel filled the boat throughout the afternoon, the unit got stripped back down, various components tested all ending in a call to the Eberspacher main dealer back in Manchester. Bets have been placed and chips are down on a kaput air pump – the diagnostic bench will tell all… hopefully tomorrow.

No jack-o’-lanterns, apple bobbing or bonfires just very very dark, pretty sure trick or treaters don’t trudge this far out into the sticks.

Off The Line

ManchesterTwo more days and we’re just about coming to the end of Manchester, still loving it Manchester Picadillyas much as when we arrived and if we wanted a life in brick this would be a great place to do it. An unerving experience but Murk now makes a pretty good job of guiding the shut eyed lead holder round Castlefield and over the dual carriageway to Hulme Park…it’s deinfitely time to go.

Been spoilt with a city based autumn, no mud despite all the rain – the mushy countryside will be a mucky shocker. For some reason the condensation hasn’t driven us insane like it did last year, perhaps not looking up and seeing it seeping through the ceiling helps, the paint job is holding up well.Castlefield arches

The thunder and rain cleared up just in time, it’s Friday night AND it’s payday. Castlefield is throbbing, boats on the move in the dark, clusters of people dotted around the basin and sirens wailing in the distance.

Will be off – the – line for the next few days and judging by last time’s effort it’s safe to say Nick won’t be spending much time in the blogging chair. Will be back next week when the show is scheduled to roll on…

Pomona And On

Castlefield in the rainGreat start to the day with warmth created in a totally smoke free zone. Sooty glow pins were the answer, happy days. Thanks for the tips UM!Pomona Lock

After Murk’s increasingly muddy walk we set off on a tram ride. Passed over Pomona Lock – beautifully named  but decidedly dodgy as descending through that one lands you in the Manchester Shipping Canal. An ambitiously named area considering the dock wasn’t ever completed, proving neither fruitful nor a hive of trading activity.war museum Manchester

Rattled on down through more docks, eerily empty apart from huge tree trunks taken in the flow, although never the success its comercial sponsors had hoped for due to low maximum speeds and the ‘locked cul de sac’ design, today a shell of not so glorious hey days. Known aswar museum Manchester the ‘Big Ditch’, stretching 36 miles from the River Mersey into the heart of Manchester – having taken six years to complete it opened in May 1894, enabling ocean going ships to bring goods in and out. Main imports were bananas and oil lamp.

section of World Trade Centre - North tower

section of World Trade Centre – North tower

The end of the line delivered us to Salford Quays, now mainly a product of the BBC’s London uprooting. The studios are enormous, the scale of the place only makes sense out there where everything is large large large. Lost ourselves in the Imperial War Museum North. Genius layering of sobering stuff, encouraging thought provoking freedom on all levels.

the 'Big Ditch'

the ‘Big Ditch’

Even more sirens than usual this evening, dashed round the front of Castle Quay to see thousands of Real Sociedad supporters all marching in under police escort for a 1-0 defeat.


Fresh Loaf Manchester

Fresh Loaf

Northern Quarter ManchesterThere’s only so much you can say about an Eberspacher, we’ve bored ourselves already let alone anyone reading whose warmth doesn’t depend on it. But here’s where it’s at, in brief: managed to smoke some Mancunians by breakfast; wasted a good deal of time buying a glow plug that didn’t fit (there’s not even one in there); cleaned up the glow pins, washed the burn chamber; put the unit back with one bit the wrong way round, removed it all again, refitted and pressed the big button…ta da da…no smoke. If there’s no smoke in the morning then the gremlin turned out to be sooty glow pins, fingers crossed.

The sun finally appeared this afternoon so we jumped on the free bus and walked our way back from Victoria, new and tired, young and old all blend well.Castlefield Absolutely not an eating timeThe Avenue Manchester so we walked on by today, but Fresh Loaf is the best cafe tested on our narrowboat trail so far. Never far from something interesting to see, just stand, wait and it comes to you in Manchester, a continual loop of entertainment. Picked up a few groceries in the Arndale Centre, then back to the boat.

A few boats moved for water under the cover of darkness this evening, a sure sign that they love their current mooring.

Grey Area

Manchester mooringMain mission today was investigating the smoking Ebespacher. Almost ordered the DEberspacher service kitIY service kit to myByBox before realising the stockist was right here in Manchester, just a 30 minute walk from Castlefield. A tinsy bag containing £31 worth of plastic and metal was bad enough but relatively painless compared to the option of £195 to have the contents fitted for you.organised

Removing the unit required chocks and clamps as there are no isloator valves. Deconstruction soon got under way, the dinette had been transformed into an operating theatre. Assuming the objective was to finchaosd all the bits in the kit, take them out and put the new ones in – required some deep delving and by late afternoon the Eberspacher was all over the place . A bit disappointing to find most parts looked okay, although a couple of vents in the burn chamber seemed sooted up,

Reassembled and all bled, daylight was long gone when fire up moment arrived. We took a few steps back when plumes of smoke appeared from the exhaust… just like before… filling the air, choking people on their way home. Hmmm hoping that load of smoke might have been a first fire up glitch. White smoke, grey area – waiting to see what the exhaust delivers tomorrow.

Smashing Time

Bridgewater canalWhen the gates to the Trafford Centre were padlocked last night we couldn’t figure if we were the right side or not. Daylight revealed a whole glitzy faux Italie hidden inside, meaning we’d most definitely slept on the wild side, but having not seen or heard a soul, figured it must be the likes of us they’re desperate to keep out.

Google Earth showed Asda across the car park – worth it’s weight in gold but occasionally does slip a micky, mainly in the form of razor wire fences. A very long time later the shopping appeared with an exhausted shopper bringing tales of dual carriageway trekking.toffee cruncher

Silly to let a Trafford Centre experience pass on by, we headed in. Bells ringing and crowdtoffee crunchers ooooing we rushed to lean over the balcony, there below us Thorntons had a pop up promo stand dishing out bags of free toffee to anyone who could ring their toffee smasher bell. Knowing he was done for with me banging on that ‘I’d have a go if it was a ‘girl type thing”. Nick reluctantly took his place in line, no big deal, just masses of Sunday Trafford Centre shoppers watching. For once SFR would have been handy, most blokes used a child of some description as a prop until the hammer was handed their way. Suddenly the pressure was immense, but happy days, the bell dinged and the toffee was in the bag.

Walked Murk alongside the boat a short way before we all jumped on for the ride back into Manchester. Turned uManchester Bridgewater canalp the waterpoint arm, filled up, then reversed back into a great spot. myByBox delivered again, door popping open to reveal yet another 15kg of Murk’s brown balls.

A subdued Sunday night Drybarge has just rolled in, the rain is pouring again and apart from the clattering of trams, Manchester is quiet. It’s good to be back.

Trafford Centre

WorsleyA short trip along to Worsley where we moored, the boat soon got a bang on the roof. Climbed out to find one of our neighbours from Salthouse Dock had caught us up, covering ground that took us five days in just two – we really are go slow.

Tied up opposite a boat house built for Queen Victoria’s visit on the 18tTrafford Centre mooringh October 1851 and took a look round Worsley (no mince). A place soaked in history, with a long disused network of coal canals, the third Duke of Bridgewater’s solution to the persistent mine flooding and troublesome of transportation of coal – boats carried ten times more than horse and cart.

Considered staying put for the day untiltrafford centre port hole the aerial went up and caught nothing, so pushed off over the Manchester Shipping Canal, along to the Trafford Centre moorings. Some spectacular thunder and lightning followed by torrential rain sent Saturday afternoon tow path hangers home.

Just three miles from Manchester proper.


smoking eberspacher

port hole view – smoking Eberspacher

It’s happened twice in the last week, it fires up no problem only to die a minute or so later leaving the boat in a haze of smoke. The Eberspacher is probably next in line on the blow up/break down list. motorbike in canal

An early morning mingle with an array of Rottweilers, Staffies, Bullmastiffs, Alsatians, Murk threw himself into heavy weight rough and tumble, loving every minute. Through the last lift bridge, before a water stop and early lunch. Chugged through a rainy Leigh, emerging the other side, surprised at the way we just moored up and left the boat in search of Tescos on the way down. A lifeless, wet afternoon degenerated into tiller stints, one of us braving the elements, the other huddled by the fire – yuck.just through Leigh - Leeds and Liverpool canal

Moored just short of Worsley. Typing, I listened as several utube Eberspacher uploads played away in the other room, mostly cut short. dismissed, until one ran the whole way through, ‘Oh yeh, this guy knows what he’s talking about, he’s got the thing in bits!’ Nick’s eagerness to deconstruct the heating system was almost tangible. The final line played over and over: ‘If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it, go and pay an expert don’t blame me…thanks for watching’. Joy.

Raining tumbling down in the middle of nowhere, this mooring is freed from the lights.


WiganMoved a short way before a checking out a block of land for sale complete withland for sale leeds and liverpool water supply and moorings. We seem to be tossing possessions into the canal like there’s no tomorrow, today saw the end of Murk’s lead. Through some very green countrysideLeeds and Liverpool soon beginning the climb into Wigan. Out past the pier then the right hand turn towards glittering Manchester. With just two locks left, practically done for the day, we met the only travelling boat today – stuck in the last lock due to broken paddles and unshiftable water levels. Three blokes and a hefty gate bang finally saw them through. Hardly any boats on the move, marinas must be filling up.

Bridge Thirty Two

bridge 32 leeds and liverpoolSo the master plan doesn’t work out when the bridge is jammed, spectacularly blocking passage by road and water. The cars queued while we attempted all sorts of tricks – finally bouoctober moonncing the stubborn barrier in manic desperation before reversing back defeated, well away from the spiralling chaos then calling Canal and River Trust. We lit the fire and watched from afar, letting the mushroom moorers pay for their naughtiness with a barrage of questions from irate motorists.

About an hour and quite a few attempts later we sailed on by, ‘See you next time,’ waved the engineer, bridge 32 failure seems a regular occurrence. A water, bin and lunch stop at Burscough. Wind and rain and more rain, a sorry sight to see the umbrella whipped along the length of the roof before plunging below the murky water. Tied up, spending the night under very stormy Parbold skies.