Saturday, 1 August 2015

Walking around the IOW

We are currently walking around the IOW.

See :-

Friday, 17 July 2015

Day 12: Aintree to Liverpool.

Saturday 18 July.

We left the Premier Inn at 9am and we were back on the canal at 9:15am, with only 8 miles left to go. A short walking day, sunny but windy. At times a little too windy.

Just a correction to an earlier post. What we saw previously, on the other side of the canal were probably bullrushes not bamboo. We saw some close up today.

The walk into Liverpool was one of contrasts. The canal was both dirtier and cleaner than we had seen   before. The water was cleaner, you could see the bottom of the canal, but the litter in, and beside the canal was at times atrocious.

We also  had to watch our footing today as canine faeces were more of a problem. We didn't notice any council bins for bags of dog droppings and as a result bags of faeces could be found hanging in trees and on fences. There may have been bins but they were not obvious.

You now might be thinking yuk, why continue, but actually in general the walk beside the canal had a rural and clean feel, even within a few miles of the city centre. It's one of the better features of the city and only needs a little care and attention to keep it really beautiful. We met a couple, Len and Imelda who were trying to do just that. Even their dog, Flash probably made the odd contribution.


They cleaned the bank between two bridges and they really made a difference! It just needs a few more like them. There are more 2,000,000 people in Liverpool.

The bridge numbers counted down from Leeds 231, 230 etc but at times you get numbers like 99a, 99aa, 99aaa where new bridges have been added since the canal was built. In some areas they are numbered 99a, 99b, 99c instead. This morning just before lunch, at a Costa Coffee in Bootle, we passed under the "Hamlet Bridge". It could have been numbered 2b or 2aa. 

2B or not 2B, that was the question.

The contrasts remained as we approached the end of the canal but the area around the flight of locks was almost pristine. I've appended a series of photographs in the order taken. 

The end of the walk was a bit of an anticlimax as we could find nothing that marked it. Perhaps there was something but we didn't find it. 

The walk into Liverpool had a much more rural and less urban feel than we expected. It was just the abundance of litter that marred it.

Day 11: Burscough to Aintree.

Friday 17 July.

Almost ideal walking weather today. Conditions ranged from overcast to full sunshine. However there was always a breeze, sometimes a bit too strong, to keep us from overheating. At about 16 miles, 15 of which was along the canal, today was our longest walking day.

We were going to stop in Maghull, but decided to continue on all the way to Aintree. That way we get an easy last day, of less than 10 miles, tomorrow.

We stayed at Heskin's Farm in Burscough and took our evening meal in the "Hop Vine." A great meal, but a very busy pub.  We would happily return to either establishment. We breakfasted early, 7:30 am and were on the road at 9am. In 10 minutes we were back on the canal and soon passed our first pub of the day.

The views either side of the canal were mainly agricultural but there were some oddities, like the wartime watch tower below.
We came across a massive marina near Scarisbrooke Hall that was not even shown on our Ordinance survey maps ( Viewranger). They had a cafe and shop, so we stopped for morning tea.

Near Halsall we passed the sculpture of the 'Halsall Navvy' by Thompson Dagwall. This was created to commemorate the work and lives of the thousands of navvys who dug out the canal by hand!!! The first cut on the Leeds to Liverpool canal was made on 5 November 1770. A small plaque nearby marks the spot.
A few days ago we mentioned the vertical rollers beside bridges installed to reduce friction on the tow ropes when narrow boats were towed by horses. The picture below shows a good example of the wear that took place before rollers were installed.
We saw the first cases today of where boats have sunk at their moorings. We enclose a picture of the more spectacular one.
As we entered a more urban area around Maghull the foot path signs began to be defaced; at first with greenpaint, but later the complete circular path badges were removed, 

The area beside the canal still kept its rural feel however. Note the abundance of lily pads and bamboo canes beside the canal. The last shot, taken behind Aintree racecourse gives little impression of how urban/suburban the surroundinsg area. We didn't see any barges moving past Maghull however.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Day 10; Wigan to Burscough.

Thursday 16 july.

We left our hotel at 8am and went into Wigan town centre for breakfast. We also had to find, and then go to, an EE shop to top up our cell phone, otherwise there may have been no more blogs.  

For others planning a trip like ours I would suggest taking a day off in Wigan to see the sights. It seems an interesting town.

In my childhood Wigan was the butt of many comedian's jokes, particularly its Pier. It was radio though, not TV, in those days. We bumped into one of the radio stars  in the shopping mall we went to, to find EE. Do you recognize him?  (Clue - he's not "leaning on a lampost at the corner of the street in case a certain little lady goes by.")

Where we joined the canal today there was more litter than in rural areas, but things improved steadily as we left the city centre. We went past a dry dock, useful if you have hull problems, and then past the Wigan pier, made famous by George Orwell.
For those interested in the techicalities of canal construction you have probably wondered like me if annd by how much the water level changes during rain or drought. This guage, seen leaving Wigan, is probably to answer those questions.
We didn't notice the M6 on our approach, until we were almost beneath it, but its noise was clearly audible later. It was the most impressive bridge we've seen so far. In contrast, the decaying swing bridge we passed later, shows how human interaction with canals have changed.

We later passed what looked like the East/West German border fence, but a local assured us it was only to stop people getting to the railway line. We also passed what looked like a border pillbox, but the boundary with Yorkshire is a long way!  :) We don't yet have an explanation for its presence.
Today we passed the second person on our trip taking a dog for a walk in a push chair. This time however the person, a lady did not want photographing with her dogs but was only too happy to talk about them. The dog in the chair suffers from epilepsy. It is reassuring to see that for some animals at least the dog's best friend is its owner.
Approaching Burscough we came across a lot of fields growing nothing but turf. A first for me in the UK. They don't want dogs in their fields apparently, or perhaps its just a statement of fact. 

Just before we turned off to our B&B in Burscough a side arm of the Leeds and Liverpool branched off to the north. Only 24 miles left to go!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Day 9: Boat Yard Inn to Wigan.

Wednesday 15 July.

As we had more than 25km to walk today we got up early and were on the canal again by 9am. The weather was sunny, with a cool wind, ideal for walking.

Within less than a mile we were walking beneath the M65 but we could hear it long before and long after reaching the bridge. The noise was quite intruisive.

The area around the canal was farmland and we passed under numerous bridges which seem to
have been built solely to give farmers access to their land, after it was disrupted by the canal. All had a very similar construction.
We passed quite a few places with permanent moorings today and met our first group of locks near Whittle-le-Woods shortly before passing under the M61. The bridge was so long it was more like a tunnel.

The walk had a much more rural feel today. Even when we were passing through Chorley a lot of the housing was screened  by hedges. In other areas views of the canal were made a feature of new housing subdivisions. We asked locals for a place to have lunch near the canal, to save our legs. They suggested Frederick's ice cream parlour. We had tea and toasted current teacake.
After lunch we were walking through country side
in the company of dog walkers and cyclists. The good weather really brought out the citizens but the activity along the canal itself was less than yesterday. There were however lots of people working on their moored boats. 

When we reached Top Lock outside Wigan we found a possible reason for the reduced canal traffic. Some one had damaged the lock gates on one of the locks nearer the town centre. From Top Lock down to the damaged lock there were about 18 individual locks! The area around the lock was clean and green and largely litter free. It was only after we crossed a major road into town that litter and graffiti again became common place. Our hotel was only about a kilometer from the canal.