Friday 21 June 2019


Today's Canal - Leeds and Liverpool

Although still breezy, which could be chilly when the sun disappeared, the day was generally very bright and by evening we had a cloudless sky.

Out schedule had been planned on the basis that the vandalised swing bridge at Coxhead was only opened twice a week - Monday and Friday - at noon for those boats already waiting to pass through. However, last night we received a welcome Notice from CaRT announcing that the bridge was now fully operational and was on boater operation. However, from our overnight mooring it was just under an hour and a half cruising so we were able to set off without regard to timings. However, our plan was still to leave enough time in the day to bring the car one stage nearer to Salthouse Dock where we will need it for as little time as possible on Tuesday to load up before returning home.

The next few bridges all once had small wharves - the roads generally run down the short distance from the villages through which the main road now runs. These now provide limited parking opportunities (as we did last night) but this one is a little larger, with signs that seem to suggest that it can be used for launching canoes.

The farmland alongside the canal is level and looks to be pretty fertile. Certainly we sa a much larger range of crops than the one time limited range of cereal crops, one field after another. In several cases we could not work out what the crop was when it was still at seedling stage.

We met quite a few boats coming our from Liverpool, most of them looked to be long term liveaboards so perhaps the repair to Bridge 20 meant that they no longer had an excuse to linger longer than their normal 14 days. Or perhaps they had all been queuing for the bridge and nit realised that it was fully operational.

We were amused by the figures that decorate this canalside house. There are elsewhere similar sets so there must be  a link but they do not fit the nursery rhyme for five speckled frogs.

The first swing bridge on the map is marked as generally left open - given the way it has deteriorated in the six years since we came here last it aint goin to open any day soon!

There are five working swing bridges between here and our Maghull and first was the now well-known Bridge 20, Coxheads. As reported it was indeed open for normal business and proving to be very popular today. There were a couple of CaRT staff at the bridge but they were just finishing up the last few items that did not interfere with the bridge opening. The large green cabinet on the right of the photo is what had been damaged and needed to be completely replaced. Reportedly someone took a digger to attack it but, no doubt because it is sub judice, little is being said in detail. In any event, CaRT have done a good job in getting it back on line in a really short time, especially as this is not something that one would plan for!

The next bridge looked as if it was mechanised - the lift barriers suggested this. So Christine got off to operate it only to discover (after being puzzled why it did not open after the barriers came down) that the bridge itself had to be swung manually! Fortunately it turned quite smoothly. She can just be seen on the right closing it.

Mike took over doing the next two - one is wholly manual but is just a footbridge and also turned easily.

The last was evidently fully mechanised so Christine returned to bridge duties but was somewhat startled when a large black limo decided to run the lights after she had started to lower the barriers (the warning lights come on well before anything moves!) Fortunately she spotted it in time and stopped them lowering otherwise the driver would have had a nasty shock. It is a busy crossing and we counted 30 vehicles that passed over as soon as it was re-opened.

Shortly afterwards we arrived at out planned mooring in time for lunch! The footbridge replaces a former swing bridge and connects the housing estate on one side with the main town and, especially, the railway station which is nearby. This photo was taken later in the day when the sky had cleared of cloud entirely.

Most of the Leeds and Liverpool has regular mileposts such as this one. Just a few have gone missing so at least we know how far we have to go - we assume that it does not include the Liverpool Link through the old docks which we will navigate on Sunday as that was created long after the mileposts were put in place.

After lunch, Mike walked to a nearby bus stop to return to our previous mooring to collect the car. The trip did take rather longer than expected as he either misread the Google timetable or it had not been updated to the latest schedule. Whilst for most of the day it is a half hour frequency, over lunch and tea time here is only one in an hour slot - and at a different time from all of the others! Annoyingly, he just missed the previous bus by a few seconds as it faced past the stop 100 m from where he was at the time! There was then an expected 40 minute wait which turned out to be even longer as the next one was 12 minutes late! Just as well it was a sunny afternoon.

Once on board it did not take long to get to Halsall. As the bus passed through the centre of the village, a large number of scarecrows could be seen at the front of many of the houses. A large poster stated that this was Halsall Scarecrow Festival. Since Mike alighted at the end of the village there were not too many to photo but this one is a really good sample of the creativity.

From the main road it was just over ten minutes walk down to the canal and along the towpath to where the car was parked. A short and uneventful return trip brought Mike back to the boat with room to park in the street we had previously identified. Surprising what you can do with Google Maps! Later, we both went by car to Morrisons for a restock.

7.6 Miles - 0 Locks

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