BBC Four’s Canal Boat Diaries visits Chorley as it returns for third series next week

Waterways enthusiast Robbie Cumming is returning to BBC Four for the third series of Canal Boat Diaries next week, which sees him cruise through new towns and villages in Lancashire and Yorkshire, including our very own Chorley.

By Aimee Seddon
Thursday, 10th March 2022, 4:55 am

Running for four episodes from Monday March 14 to Thursday March 17 at 7:30 pm, Robbie offers a personal take on life as he navigates a challenging 170-mile stretch of the canal and river network aboard his rustic narrowboat the "Naughty Lass", captured on mobile phones and small cameras.

In the first episode, where Robbie goes from Wigan to Burnley, viewers will see him travel on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal through Chorley, where he passes local mills such as the 1906 Cowling Mill and the 1855 Canal Mill, before facing the Johnson Hillock Locks in Whittle-Le Woods.

Speaking of his time in Chorley, Robbie said: “The huge size of the mills are just unbelievable and it's great to see that some of them are still being used, like Canal Mills was part of Botany Bay shopping centre.

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Narrowboater Robbie Cummings films his journey along rivers and canals in the North for the third series of BBC 4's Canal Boat Diaries.

“Some are not being used anymore, but they're no less interesting, they've got this incredible feeling. There’s the broken down parts but also the ivy growing up the chimneys, so that contrast is great, and it’s like they’re a bit of history that will cling on as long as it can- I like that.

“And Johnson Hillock was beautiful, it’s considered one of the prettiest set of locks in the country by many boaters. There's a bit we cut to where I’m wading through the by-wash there, which is where the water channels down from the upper parts of the canal into the next lock like a stream, and because it was the hottest day of the year, going in was just escapism, like a secret world, far away from normal life.”

Despite the pleasant views, Robbie adds that he did face some trouble in Chorley, when he encountered a propeller problem caused by a tirade of weeds, but he says he wanted his series to show “the real side of boating…the ups and downs.”

Explaining why he visited Lancashire to do this, Robbie, originally from Dorset said: “Northern canals and rivers are a lot more interesting to me because I didn't grow up anywhere near mills like that, or these incredible canal bridges, tunnels, and landscapes that have been created from having to carve a way through the Pennines, like in Wigan they’ve got 23 locks going up to it, and you only really get that contrast up in the North.

Robbie Cumming in Bingley on the Leeds and Liverpool canal, which previously had seen him travel through Chorley.

“It's the most incredible landscape, so if we highlight these places more, people could have even more proud pride in their area, and we can show it off to the world- have more money coming in.”

Asked why Post readers should tune in, Robbie replied: "It's like a reality show mixed with a history programme, but you've also got loads of gorgeous scenery, some nice music, the whole experience is just escapism, getting away from your normal life and drifting off along the canals.

“There's a lot of stuff going on these days, prices are going up all over the shop, there's wars in Ukraine and you need something to get your mind off that sometimes, and this will definitely do that.”

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Robbie and "The Naughty Lass" set off on their northern adventure over summer and autumn last year,