By boat to Liverpool

Last year I joined friends Paul and Christine in filming the Leeds and Liverpool Canal for their series of excellent canal and river DVDs – I was with them from the summit at Foulridge Tunnel (where Lucy and I reached in 2001) to Tarleton at the end of the Rufford Branch. They had intended to cruise in to Liverpool last year, but a breach meant that wasn’t possible, so after a visit to the Rivers Lee and Stort earlier in the summer, culminating with the fabulous trip along the tidal Thames, it was time to return to the Leeds & Liverpool to complete the journey.

I joined them at Wigan and we cruised to Burscough where Susan joined us for the trip into Liverpool. The next weekend we retraced the journey to Wigan and onwards to Leigh, completing the Leeds & Liverpool for me.

the canal just west of Burscough
having arrived at the end of the mainline of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal on Saturday afternoon, we take a stroll down the Stanley Docks Branch in advance of the trip by boat on Sunday.

The route down the Stanley Dock Branch and the remainder of the Liverpool Link is available during the morning coming out of Liverpool, and in the afternoon going in. Sunday morning’s weather was rather damp, but with my Great East Run half-marathon coming up the following Sunday, I took advantage of the opportunity for a final long run, and took the train eight stops north to Hightown, getting off and running south back to the boat, the first half along the coast and the second half along the canal. I got to see the “Another Place” sculptures by Sir Antony Gormley, and also to see National Cycle Route 810 disappear repeatedly under masses of sand, which made the running along it rather challenging.

heading across Stanley Dock towards Stanley Dock Lifting Bridge, of the Scherzer Rolling Lift type, a patented design where the bridge deck rocks back onto a roller girder in order to raise it to allow vessels to pass through. It was restored in 2010.
Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse, the world’s largest brick warehouse. Standing 38 metres high, the 14-storey building spans 15 hectares and its construction used 27 million bricks, 30,000 panes of glass and 8,000 tons of steel. It fell into disuse in the 1980s but is now being restored into appartments and retail outlets.
not the most reassuring name for boat moorings
Victoria Tower, designed by Jesse Hartley and constructed between 1847 and 1848, to commemorate the opening of Salisbury Dock. Often referred to as the ‘docker’s clock’, it was built as an aid to ships in the port, allowing them to set the correct time as they sailed out into the Irish Sea, while its bell warned of impending meteorological changes such as high tide and fog. Perhaps someone will find some funds to restore it for its 175th anniversary in 2023.
turning through Salisbury Dock and heading for Trafalgar Dock
crossing Princes Half Tide Dock
the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building
heading along the new channel, we approach the third of the three tunnels
the Port of Liverpool Building, one of the Three Graces
passing through Canning Half Tide Dock
passing through Albert Dock
Salthouse Dock by night from our mooring
climbing the Stanley Docks Branch
passing the infamous Wigan Pier (just visible on the left where the towpath is raised).
we moored above Pennington Flash, ready for parkrun on Saturday morning. I hadn’t planned on a parkrun but it was too good an opportunity to miss. Paul and I walked round the course on Friday evening which meant there were no surprises. With the Great East Run half-marathon on Sunday, I took it easy when it came to the run on Saturday morning, my 101st different parkrun location.

“Unlock” by Thompson Dagnall, made out of lock gates. It is said to be a book holding the secrets and stories of the canals, aiming to use the physical presence of the lock gates to stimulate each traveller’s memories of the canals and hint at the vast library of tales yet to be unearthed. The intention is that the sculpture will dominate the viewer and give a taste of the feeling of entering a lock, capturing the essence of the canals in an up close and personal way.

looking forward along the Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal – still to be visited
and from the same spot, a look back at the bridge to show that I have completed my travels along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. From here Paul reversed the boat back to the moorings.

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