We enjoyed a cooked breakfast while we waited for the CRT. A guy in CRT colours arrived on a bike and began unlocking the paddles which was the first positive sign that we were going to be heading down the locks today.
Once we were ready he started to empty the lock we were already in. We inched our way slowly down the staircase of three locks backwards. The staircase has no lock landings, the locks are deep and CRT operate the paddles and gates for the crews who all remain on board their boats.
Long boats need to go in backwards because the turn at the bottom of the staircase is a 90 degree bend with a tight turning area.
NB Oleanna backed out of the lock first and a look of alarm on Mick’s face suggested that all was not quite as it should be. Thankfully after a bit of coaxing Oleanna began to swing round to head under the road and rail bridge and then it was our turn. We went backwards and we too had problems doing the turn. Our stern was stuck in the mud. I took the boat pole to the front of the boat and pushed it round which freed the stern as well so we headed towards the two bridges where the beck kinks round to the left and a protruding bush made a horrible noise as it scraped across our roof. Thankfully our chimney stayed put. The brook is quite overgrown and we picked up quite a few leaves and twigs as we continued on our way.
CRT had set the locks ready for us just to go straight in. Pip and Mick were inspecting the side of their boat as we arrived at Lock 4 and we hoped they hadn’t scratched their new paintwork. It turned out that they’d lost one of the press-studs from their new cratch cover. Fortunately they plan to meet their cover supplier next week and hopefully he’ll be able to fit a replacement stud.
After that Pip and I walked between locks rather than hopping on and off at each lock landing as we had a bit more to do today than usual. We’d been asked by CRT to open the paddles again after we’d passed through so that they would be full by the time the boats following behind us got there. We were the front two boats of six narrowboats and 2 wide beams travelling down the Ribble Link today.
Tonight all eight boats are moored on 3 pontoons above lock 8. We are breasted up between NB Oleanna and NB Elan. All very cosy.
We’ve been told to be ready for 7.30 am in the morning when CRT will arrive to let us down through Lock 8 and under the low bridge while the tide is out, and then we will wait on the pontoon just above the sea lock until the height of the tide is sufficient for us to head out onto the river.