Sunday 30 June 2019

The Leaving of Liverpool

Today's Canal - Leeds and Liverpool

We were up early (not as early as some however) as the official window for leaving Salthouse Dock is between 8 and 9.30 am. Our Leaving of Liverpool was, alas, not either as musical nor as successful as the famous sea shanty popularised by the Pogues, Clancy Brothers, Spinners and others.

We thought we were doing quite well as we were under way just a couple of minutes after the start but we learnt later that others were off even earlier! They must have been lucky that the first lock, Man Island, had been unchained ahead of time. Another boat, nb Narrow Minded II, that was getting ready, saw us leave and quickly followed - it is generally expected that boats share the locks as far as practicable.

One last look around the dock which is rightly so well regarded by everyone we have talked to who has come here.

Almost straight ahead from our pontoon, we headed to the bridge that divides Salthouse and Albert Docks - constructed as part of the re-development of the area in 1985.

As we passed underneath we could the huge gates which originally protected each lock from the other.

We then headed across Albert Dock to the exit bridge, over the protective gate that is raised when navigation is not required. We assume that this helps maintain the level in Salthouse and the other locks to its south if the half tide gates are used in Canning Dock - as can be seen, there are still some movements of large vessels in and out of this dock where the gates are still maintained.

After passing through the shallow Mann Island Lock we headed through the tunnels and cuttings - out in the open we could see the various impressive buildings, many of which were made possible by the regeneration of the area.

This is the` Mersey Ferries terminal building.

After the third and longest tunnel, which also snakes around so that it is not possible to see straight through, we arrived at Prince's Lock.

Above this lock comes Princes Dock - an amazing vista looking from the lock landing pontoon.

At the far end we passed through a narrow entrance into Waterloo Dock which once also had access to the river - these huge gates we assume no longer function but they do give some idea of the scale of ships that came in and out.

Looking back from the middle of Waterloo Dock we could see Alexandra Tower. When completed in 2008 it was the sixth tallest building in the city. It provides 201 apartments over 27 floors. The views from the top must be amazing.

At  the start of Sid's Ditch we passed under this bridge. Six years ago it looked newly completed but it would seem that the plan for the development  of the waterside, land that was formed when one of the docks was filled in - with rubbish! It looks as if much more substantial footing are being created on the river side of the bridge.

And so we came round to the three docks that are in line up to Stanley Dock. To one side is thje new Titanic Hotel.

Crossing between Collingwood and Stanley Docks is the unusual bascule bridge. It dates from 1932 but gradually fell into disuse - as far as lifting was concerned. In 2008 special arrangements were made to raise the bridge to allow a tall ship to pass as part of a film shoot. As they did so, the extent to which the bridge had corroded was discovered. Rather than demolish and replace with something more conventional - and boring - it was decided to refurbish it, which was completed in 2010. When Mike collected the car from Maghull earlier in the week, the satnav brought him over this bridge.

A slightly better view of the Tobacco Factory this time - still not brilliant.

We then arrived at the bottom the the Stanley Dock Locks - the bottom one is only a fraction of the height of the other three.

For  some reason, the bottom gates of just this lock are fitted with a rack and pinion mechanism. As the gates are relatively small we are not sure why - usually they are to be found on locks where bridge widening has truncated the balance beams.

As we emerged from the top of the flight, Christine's attention was attracted by a man on a balcony of an adjacent house. After some confusion, it turned out that he had been on a stag weekend with friends. The rest had just left and locked the house, not realising that this one person was still inside and had no way of opening the door. However, he knew that it had a keysafe so he was wanting someone to let him out! Christine manged to unlock but needed further help from another neighbour to persuade the cover to open!

The landscape alongside the canal is gradually becoming less industrial and more and more residential. This is about the only example near here of a transshipment warehouse where the goods cold loaded or unloaded sheltered from rain.

We continued to the visitor moorings at Litherland where we were lucky to find a space (almost the last available) so that we could go shopping at Tesco, which right be the canal. After shopping we had lunch. As Mike made a start on preparing tonight's roast dinner, Christine returned to Tesco for a few forgotten items. He then moved down to the service point, just as Christine was returning.

When we had finished the emptying and filling we set off, immediately having to operate the new swing footbridges (when we were here six years ago, the old swing bridge had been replaced by a stepped bridge but we are now back to a more heritage- authentic structure. It moves  very easily and it is a great bridge to involved small children. Watching the bridge were a very small girl being looked after by her grandmother. Mike asked the latter if she thought the girl would like to help and both jumped at the chance. The girl was able to do all of the opening and closing on her own (with just a little helping nudge to get it going) Both could not wait to get home and tell Mum!

We continued until we were alongside the Rimrose Valley Country Park aka Froggy Meadow. We found a spot that looked as if it were quiet,. safe and with a tv signal! Unfortunately, we forgot to plan for enough depth to come alongside so, for the first time for ages, we had to deploy the plank!

A little later, Christine went to explore some of the wild area. She found much of it grassy (or related plants), criss crossed with numerous paths, some ok for cycles and others barely discernible. The valley contains Rimrose Brook and has always been kept free from development, even as the surrounding towns have expanded extensively over the last century. One feature on the 1850 map was Seaforth House, with an accompanying street of what seem to be substantial houses. By the next map, 50 years later there is no sign of the mansion and its grounds. It seems that Seaforth House was built in 1813 by the father of the future prime Minister, Gladstone. The house was demolished in 1881 but we have not found anything about the reasons. However, the 1894 map shows an estate of compact housing. By 1930 most of the other houses had gone and at some stage even the remainder have been replaced by 1960's / 1970's looking semi detached properties.

This was a group of six magpies - what do they signify, traditionally? Ah, gold! Never believed the rhyme anyway . . .

7.3 Miles - 6 Locks

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