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The Leeds & Liverpool Canal - Wigan to Liverpool
The Leeds and Liverpool Canal links the Merseyside seaport of Liverpool in the west with the Aire and Calder Navigation at Leeds to the east. The concept was the forming of a through navigation route between the Irish Sea and the North Sea.
There is construction development underway to extend the western end past Liverpool Pier Head to terminate at the main Albert Dock wharf system.
We passed under the 2006 Henhurst Canal Bridge and through the Wigan Pier area on the Leeds and Liverpool passing the 'actual pier' just after 'The Way We Were' Museum and visitor centre, serviced by the Netta Trip Boat that goes from Lock 87. The trip boat leaves Trencherfield Mill heading for Pottery Bridge and Wigan Pier around the corner. Trencherfield Mill houses the world's largest original working steam engine. Currently the former machinery floors are being developed into 'Urban Splash' apartments. Netta only goes as far as the first lock west of town; a total round trip distance of less than 3km.
We were soon out in the countryside passing under the M6 Motorway, the River Douglas runs remarkably close to the canal (or is it the other way round?) After the deep lock at Appley Bridge you may catch sight (to the north) of the 'Parbold Bottle' a monument to temperance high, on Parbold Hill! At OS Grid SD 506105 a good walk from Parbold (Town). Incidentally at the railway crossing in Parbold (just after the 'Railway' pub) you can experience 'the point of infinity' looking westwards down the line! The other side of the canal in Parbold is the old windmill (not marked on OS?) now a couple of retail outlets.
After leaving Parbold (24hr moorings) we followed the well used trip boat 'Rose of Parbold' out as far as the Farmers Arms, helping each other through the 'self service' swing bridges. The next feature was soon upon us, the Rufford Branch junction with the top lock in sight under the bridge.
We started to ask other local boaters about 'going into Liverpool' now, with resulting mixed messages! You have to book with BW to navigate past Netherton, as they have to open three swing bridges including the swing bridge at Bells Lane. We pre-booked our 'assisted passage' for the Monday, so we waited the weekend out in the countryside and outside the Scarisbrick Arms, 24 hour moorings just north of Lydiate. Just about everyone we spoke to warned us against going into Liverpool - 'You're likely to get your windows bricked in Bootle!' or 'You're taking a chance, I wouldn’t go through Bootle!'- What to do?
Well we phoned BW just after 9 am on the Monday and asked for our assisted passage to begin. We were met by a BW representative at the first of the secure swing bridges and assisted through the next two. Once the physical opening of the bridges was over with we were watched over at strategic points along the navigation. Our passage passed without incident. We had chosen a school day and made the passage during school hours.
We traveled through Maghull without any trepidation at all, the canal was weedy but a clear narrow navigation channel was always visible, moving into open countryside before catching sight of Aintree Racecourse and under the Melling Road Bridge towards Netherton and Litherland on one side and the RimroseCountry Park on the other bank. Our 'nemesis' came next, Bootle, but we were surprised to find the area much like any suburban city area and not threatening at all! What we were not prepared for was the flotsam and jetsam on the surface of the canal as we got nearer to Liverpool, some pieces of aluminium coated foam construction panels 10 meters long! Builder’s planks, wheels, tyres and even an upturned 4x4!
We were met at the Visitor Moorings at the Elaine Norris Sports Centre, Vauxhall Road, by the same BW representative, settled in and booked our return passage for Wednesday morning. In the evening we walked down the Albert Dock Locks and after circling the Tobacco Warehouse built in 1900, at the time; the largest building in the world! We settled down for a peaceful evening and night.
Wednesday morning 7 a.m. and we're off back up to Burscough. Again we navigated our way through the rubbish and weed up to the first swing bridge, BW were waiting for us and assisted us through the following two, again (luckily) no problems with 'bandits'.
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