Thursday 14 September 2017

Trafford Park

Today's Canals - Leeds and Liverpool Leigh Branch, Bridgewater

A day without locks as we cruised all day on the same level. We awoke to a bright sunny morning, A little sharpness in the air which quickly warmed up and we looked forward to simply cruising along. The flash reflected the blue sky and overhead a flock of birds made its way in line astern. We wondered how they decide which one goes first and who has to bring up the rear?

A local dog walker told us that the former railway embankment on the far side - currently available for walkers is seemed from a distance - is about to be developed as a southern relief road that is expected to take traffic away from a congested town centre. (Although we have come this way several times by boat we cannot recall having ever popped into the town itself) Looking it up later we found that the a scheme has been in the making for over 20 years. The latest plan was contracted out in 2015 but the construction company withdrew and so the council had to start over again. It seems that work is still probably in the preparatory phase.

Not sure why this photo was taken but its somewhat surreal quality captures what the morning was like.

Not long after setting off we saw in the distance the boat we shared locks with yesterday. He was on the bank walking the dog and she was at the helm, obviously looking bemused. We asked if they were stuck at it seems that she had tried to pick him and dog up but ran into a very shallow bank. The were pleased to be offered a tow and we managed to free them without any difficulty. He had to walk to the next bridge! Alas, as usually happens when involved in something like this, we forgot to take a photo!

At Dover Bridge the remains of two former locks can still be seen. It seems that they were replaced by the two deep locks at Poolstock in order to cope with subsidence. Not sure when this happened but the two locks are included in the 1948 OS Map.

We then passed this very overgrown former swing bridge. This is marked on the old OS map as Marsden's Bridge (Swing) but appears to have been an accommodation bridge for the nearby farm. There is today no evidence of the abutment on the opposite bank and the canal here is much wider than the bridge hole would have been.Perhaps it was lost when the banks were improved.

At Plank Lane there is also evidence of a former lock adjacent to the lift bridge. At the start of the 20C the map indicates both a lock and a swing bridge but 50 years later the lock is no longer indicated, only a narrows.

Mike was absent minded when Christine opened the bridge - much quicker than he expected perhaps. In any event, a queue of traffic quickly built up and so she had to shut it again! By the time Mike realised what was happening it was too late and he had to wait patiently (like the cars and lorries!) until it could be re-opened. It is a very busy crossing - so much so that the bridge cannot be opened for boats at morning and evening rush hours. Surely this will only get worse as the extensive new housing under construction beside the marina is completed.

A length of new housing alongside the canal has had solar panels built into the roofs - much neater than when added later.

We stopped at Leigh to go shopping. The small shops and market stalls may not be very upmarket but they certainly are a good provider for boat shopping! We stayed put for our lunch break and iut was after two before we set off once more.

Just beyond Leigh Bridge the canal becomes the Bridgewater, separately owned by Peel Ports and not part of CaRT. There are few facilities (none?) on this branch as we have discovered before.

At one time there were a number of large cotton mills built in the town - we spotted at least four. This one appears to have been converted for offices but awaits occupation. Another stands derelict and another has some form of industrial use.

This stretch next to Butt's Bridge has new housing on both sides - once industrial buildings. It now looks much pleasanter and probably much better cared for and is quite pleasant to cruise along.

The last of the mills we could see is Leigh Spinners Mill - a double cotton mill. Although there is a posh web site illustrating development plans for the site, we could not see any indication that work has actually started.

The new Vicars Hall Bridge appears to be now complete and all the contractors have left. Will Peel Holdings now get planning permission for developments that might use it?

As we neared Worsley the water in the canal took on a distinctive rusty colour - the effect of the extensive underground mine workings that gave rise to the Bridgewater Canal in the first place.

We turned the sharp corner at Worsley with the distinctive Packet Boat building at the corner. The Delph and the mines are off to the right - no longer navigable, in case anyone thinks about it!

A preserved former fly boat (much the same as a packet boat) is moored nearby.

The very formalised dry stone walls outside these modern houses look somewhat uncomfortably out of place.

This lodge was originally built alongside a modest Monton Bridge from a much earlier time, not long after the canal was constructed. The bridge was expanded in 1905 to accommodate trams - it now looks almost forgotten and one wonders how the occupiers at the time felt about it!

We crossed the Barton Swing Aqueduct just as the camera battery ran out! Hence this is the only photo this time.

A short while later we arrived at Trafford Park, our destination for today. We were the only boat at the moorings when we arrived although another joined us later. Whilst Mike prepared the meal and cleared the prop, Christine walked into the shopping centre to find a Body Shop - she had as discount voucher that was about to expire!

15.2 Miles - 0 Locks

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