Friday 12 July 2019

Trafford Park Centre

Today's Canals - Leeds and Liverpool, Bridgewater

The day started grey and somewhat damp, almost drizzle at times, but really very low cloud. After half and hour or so we were able to discard our waterproofs and a little later warmer layers as well. Gradually the day improved and there were long bright spells and it remained warm throughout.

Not long after leaving Scotman's Flash we passed through a narrows left by a former swing bridge. This gives an indication of how dark and damp it was.

About forty minutes after setting off we passed through the remains of the Dover Locks (which were relocated to Poolstock when subsidence created problems) and the sky has now changed entirely!

We paused just after Plank Lane Lift Bride to fill up with water - facilities between here and beyond the centre of Manchester are rather rare and unreliable!

As we passed Pennington Flash we could see the houses in Firs Lane, a suburb of Leigh. Subsidence became a major issue for the canals around this area - the same coal mining that created most of the flashes and the canal banks had to be built up (often using waste from the pits!). The level of the canal is now up to the upstairs windows of the nearby houses.

We arrived into Leigh and luckily found that the short visitor mooring closest to the shops was empty. We bought the bulk items from Aldi which is just 50 m from the mooring, before returning into town for the rest, including going to the fish stall in the covered market that we have patronised before. Unfortunately, several items were absent from the other stalls and so Mike was sent off to Tesco whilst Christine returned to begin stowing away. We stayed on the mooring for lunch as it was now well after 1 o'clock

When we set off, passing under Leigh Bridge, the navigation became the Bridgewater Canal. We also paused at Butts Bridge to empty the elsan. Coming from the east, the landing is hidden bend the bridge abutments and so a rapid reverse stop was called for.

The building in Bedford Basin is either being developed or renovated.

The works seem extensive and, judging by the date plaque already in place, they do not expect to complete the work until next year.

Leigh was once home to numerous large mills, some of which have been converted to offices, apartments and industrial units, some better than others.

The property had an extensive display of identical ornamental daises - but alas we missed capturing the best angle as we also had to negotiate a bridge alongside!

The landscape before Leigh now has an almost rural feel, despite the extensive mining that once covered much of the area. However, although the Bridgewater is lined with green shrubs, it feels as if the former scars are still hurting.

The towpath works that led to us having a short delay on the way up are now complete and have been well finished so that they merge well with the rest of canalside.

After we passed Bridgewater Marina we soon found the landscape turning urban.

Nearing Worsley, the water gradually turned a bright shade of almost orange - the result of the mines which were the origins of the Bridgewater Canal.

Along this stretch there are several sculptures, made from cutting shapes into thick, flat sheets of steel.

As we entered the narrow channel of the Barton Swing Aqueduct, there is no warning of the sudden vertiginous view don to the Ship Canal well below us.

A few minutes later we reached our planned overnight stop at the entrance to the huge Trafford Park shopping centre.

15.2 Miles - 0 locks

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