Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Off the Bridgewater, onto the L&L

We had rain last evening! Actual rain – you know, that wet stuff that comes out of the sky! Well, to be fair it was more like showers, but one was quite heavy. It did relieve the heat a bit.

They do like their bright lights at the Trafford Centre, don’t they. This was at quarter past eleven last night.

We set off, only to pull in at the next bridge for me to nip up to B&Q for some material for a little project I’ve got in mind. That done we only had 5 minutes before crossing the Ship Canal on Barton Swing Aqueduct. DSCF3518
When the Bridgewater Canal was first opened in 1761, the River Irwell was bridged here by a stone aqueduct, itself a wonder of the age. But when the Manchester Ship Canal was proposed, it became clear that the existing aqueduct didn’t have sufficient air draught to allow the size of shipping they were hoping for. The ship canal here follows the river, and the swing aqueduct was built alongside the existing fixed one. It had to be built right, the first time it was opened was when the older one alongside was demolished.
Designed by Edward Leader Williams it opened in 1893 and carries an amazing 800 tons of water sealed into the 18 x 235 foot channel when it is swung to allow passage of large vessels up to Manchester.

It’s smaller brother, the Barton Swing viaduct, sits just to the west and carries the B5211.DSCF3521

Looking up towards the city

After the crossing the canal runs through Patricroft, alongside the road for a short distance. There’s a lot of new residential development going on, this was a demolition site when we last came this way.

The lighthouse still overlooks the canal on the sharp bend in Monton…DSCF3525

There’s a short interlude of greenery after Parrin Lane and into Worsley, but it’s an illusion, the houses are just behind the bushes… There’s more new houses been built on the edge of Worsley, too.
The actual canal centre of the village hasn’t changed, though.

The Worsley Dry Dock is believed to be the oldest on the inland waterways.DSCF3530

Two restored Leeds and Liverpool fly-boats were moored here, the Dee…DSCF3529

and the Weaver.


The Packet House, with the steps where passengers used to embark for the trip into Manchester.DSCF3534

And the way to the Delph, the entrance to the Duke’s coal mines. DSCF3536

Once again we’re in rust-stained water, caused by water running through iron-ore deposits in the mines.

Under the M60 (again)

The new stop-lock installed a couple of years ago.DSCF3541
Note that there are opposing pairs of gates, designed to be effective if there’s a breach in either direction.

This is now coal country and the canal makes long straight runs across the landscape.

Bridgewater Marina at Boothstown

The Astley Green Colliery ceased production in 1970 and the headgear and associated buildings are preserved as a museum. DSCF3548
Subsidence has also affected the surrounding landscape, like down at Sandbach the canal banks have had to be raised by adding layers of concrete.

We pulled over here for a bite to eat and for Meg to have a wee, then pushed on again.

Approaching Leigh, only two tall mill chimneys left to mark the skyline of this once prosperous mill town.
Silk and cotton were spun in many mills in the town, but only five remain today, and they’ve been converted for other uses. At the turn of the 20th century over 6000 people were employed in the textile industry here.

New developments either side of the canal echo mill architectureDSCF3557

Leigh Bridge, the end of the Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal and the start of the Leigh Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.DSCF3563


On the north side of the bridge old canal warehouses have been “repurposed”, now the Waterside InnDSCF3565

We’re back on CRT waters again now, and there’s something indefinably different. The water looks the same, the canal is still deep and wide…

Ah yes, there’s more floating rubbish!


The Bridgewater Canal Company employs a barge, the Water Womble, to cruise up and down it’s navigation collecting rubbish. Alas, CRT is unable to do the same.

Leaving Leigh it’s only a mile or so to Plank Lane, passing the water park at Pennington Flash on the way.DSCF3569

Lock gate “sculpture”.

On the old Bickersdale Colliery site the marina is filling up and the housing development is nearing completion.DSCF3574

We were going to pull over here for the night, but a boat that had passed us at Astley Green was on the bridge moorings, the crew having a bite to eat while filling with water. Mags hasn’t been herself these last few days, so having no locks to do has been useful. But this would be the first time she needed to man (woman) the tiller, as we had to tackle the lift bridge. Or not…
I went and had a word with the couple on the Canaltime timeshare Striding Edge, and they were quite happy for me to follow as they went through.DSCF3573 
The road across is very busy, and the locals seem to be in such a rush to get somewhere. Coupled with the fact that it’s only single file across the bridge this means that there’s always vehicles crossing. You just have to push the button…

Thanks, lovely people.

Another 30 minutes steady cruising saw us arrive at Dover Lock, where we pulled in just before Dover Bridge.DSCF3578

There’s no lock here now, just the pub still carrying the name. The lock was made redundant with the adjusting of the water levels up to Poolstock. The two Poolstock Locks will take us into Wigan tomorrow.

Locks 0, miles 13

Monday, May 21, 2018

Moving on…

We were on the move again today, another fine sunny day to enjoy.

Looking over the Bollin Valley this morning.DSCF3475

Dappled sunlight through new oak leaves, lovely.

Just a couple of minutes from setting off we had to cross the River Bollin on an aqueduct. A boat was coming the other way so we held off. There is room for two boats to pass, but it’s a bit tight, so why struggle when you don’t have to?DSCF3477

A half hour of cruising through the countryside brought us to Seamons Moss Bridge, where the rural gives way to the suburban.

Heading towards Broadheath there’s a large development on the offside, on the site of the old linotype works. It looks like one of the factory fronts overlooking the canal is to be preserved…DSCF3486

…and maybe the main building too?

From Timperley Bridge there’s a 2½ mile straight, running past Sale and almost up to the Mersey crossing.DSCF3492

Hmm, this could be interesting…
Catastrophe averted, both the shells pulled over to allow the narrowboats past.

Sale started out as primarily farming country, but the arrival of the canal, then shortly afterwards the railway, stimulated it’s development as a commuter town for Manchester, which increased it’s prosperity. There are several sizeable churches visible from the canal, and the clock tower of the town hall can be seen over the rooftops at Sale Bridge.DSCF3496 



The swans and Canada geese thrive in the food-rich environment of the canal.DSCF3481

There doesn’t seem to be as many goslings about this year, though.

Under the M60…

…and over the Mersey

We pulled in near the Watch House Cruising Club for ten minutes for Meg to have a comfort break, then pushed on, past Stretford Marina to Waters Meeting.

Stretford Marina

Waters Meeting
A right turn takes you into Manchester, but our route is to the left, towards Leigh and points north.

Just around the corner the canal passes the large Kelloggs factory, with it’s own dock. DSCF3512
Grain from the US was brought into Salford Docks along the Ship Canal, then transferred to Kelloggs’ own fleet of powered and unpowered barges for the final leg of the trip. Cornflakes and Rice Krispies were produced here, but during WWII, unavailability of imported corn led the company to introduce Wheat Flakes. The factory even had it’s own Home Guard unit and ambulance team, put to use when the site was bombed.

We cruised on for another mile, pulling in on the moorings at the Trafford Centre.

Tomorrow we intend to be back on CRT waters, on the Leeds and Liverpool Leigh Branch, probably stopping at Plank Lane.

Locks 0,  miles 9 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Up the “Dukes Cut”

We’ve toddled on up the Bridgewater Friday and Saturday, and stayed put today on a fine spot overlooking Bollington Mill. I’m not sure that this section of the canal should be called the Dukes Cut though, as it’s not the original navigation opened by the Duke of Bridgewater in July 1761. We’ll be joining that tomorrow, the route from the Duke’s mines at Worsley to Manchester.
This bit was one of two further extensions, one south from near Stretford (this one…), the other north from Worsley to Leigh.
The route south led to Runcorn, dropping down the only locks on the navigation to docks on the River Mersey. It also incorporated the short arm to Preston Brook Tunnel and the connection to the Trent and Mersey.
The northern extension wasn’t built until right at the end of the 18th century, and linked the Bridgewater to the Leeds and Liverpool (Leigh Branch).

So back to the present and we left the mooring near Moore on Friday morning. A cold night, but a fine sunny morning. Two uneventful days, fairly quiet on the water, saw us to our present spot yesterday late morning. We had to be tied up before noon, Mags wanted to watch something or other on the TV…

Heading in towards Walton and the fringes of Warrington.DSCF3450

The rhododendrons are just coming out at Walton HallDSCF3453

The canal runs along the southern edge of the urban sprawl of Warrington for about 3 miles, finally breaking back out into the countryside east of Grappenhall.

Thorne Marine alongside London Road BridgeDSCF3460

And another of those stop plank cranes lurking in the undergrowth.

During construction of the Runcorn extension work was held up here for a while during negotiations with landowners further south. The main building occupied by Thorne Marine was once a warehouse for goods waiting to be moved on by road.

They can afford to use larger maintenance craft on here…DSCF3462

We arrived at Lymm early afternoon, pulling in on the towpath side. It’s a bit quieter here than on the same side as the town, and just as convenient.DSCF3465
It’s a good job we were early; the moorings were filling up by the time I’d got back from a shopping trip, and there wasn’t a space to be had by evening.

After another cool night we were on the move by half-nine on Saturday. Not far to go, just along to Bollington, but we had to stop for water on the way so had to account for having to queue.

We were only the first or second boat away this morning. There was bunting up in the town, so there might have been some sort of party on to celebrate THE WEDDING!

Long lines of moored boats make progress slow, past a couple of marinas then boat club moorings.

Past The Barn Owl pub on the left.

There used to be a bell on the towpath side to summon a row boat from the pub to transport thirsty walkers across the canal.

The water point at The Olde No 3 was free when we arrived, but it still took nearly 30 minutes to fill from the very slow tap. But we were moored up at Bollington by 11:10, in plenty of time for Mags to indulge her royalist tendencies.DSCF3471

Me, I can take it or leave it. So I got on with repairing the damage to the paint on the front corner of the handrail, and a few rust spots that had appeared on the roof through the winter.

It’s been busy on the water over the weekend, but it’s gone quiet again now. Tomorrow we’ll be heading up through Sale and Stretford, probably stopping at the Trafford Centre.

Locks 0, miles 10½