Sunday, 4 June 2017

Maghull to Liverpool (June 2017)

We decided some time ago that we would do an overnight stay when doing the last stretch on the canal and because of logistics Dad chose to drive rather than getting the train.  Dad book accommodation in Brunswick, just outside the City Centre, and Mum joined us.  We arrived in Liverpool just before rush hour ended.  We left Mum behind for a day of relaxing and sightseeing and we caught a train to Maghull (via Liverpool Central).  Twenty minutes or so later we arrived in Maghull.

Starting our walk!

12 miles to go!
We picked up where we left off last time in Maghull and began our final stretch.  We enjoyed the rural stretch at the beginning passing Melling, Wadicar and reaching Aintree.  At Aintree we didn't see the race course from the canal because of the tall concrete walls obscuring it! We saw the infamous Canal Turn however.  It was there we experienced drizzly rain so the wet gear came out and Dad relied on his faithful brolly!  The drizzle and light rain came and went though the weather cleared and brightened later on in the day.

We originally planned to stop at the Old Roan Pub.  We left the canal near Old Roan Station for the pub but it's closed down! It looks like the scaffolding around the closed pub has been there for a long time.  Instead we stopped at Cooksons Bridge Pub further on instead for a drink and comfort stop.

Baby chicks and their Mum!
On this stretch, the highlight must be seeing the abundance of baby chicks, coots and geese on the canal though they were ferociously guarded by their mums! We were hissed a few times for getting a bit close but cute nonetheless.  We also spotted plenty of nests on the cut and obviously guarded! 

Len and Mel - CRT Volunteers with my Dad,
Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Netherton

Drink and comfort stop at Cooksons Bridge, near Netherton
The stretch is residentially built up from Aintree with an interruption of a green belt, known as Primrose Valley Country Park, in Crosby.  We saw a handful of narrow boats passing by.  However, on this stretch, boaters have to plan ahead their assisted passage to Liverpool via a couple of swing bridges and the Stanley Dock Branch Locks.  We met two friendly CRT volunteers, Len and Mel, in Netherton who were tidying around the canal and towpath. It is lovely to see and meet like minded people who care about their canal.

We noted that many of the bridge number plaques were missing.  We learnt that some wrong 'uns have removed them in order to sell the metal for money.  I won't express the words I would chose for them as I want my blog to be family friendly.  It made tracking our progress harder but it helped that a couple of bridges along the way still have the numbers/letter plaques on. 

We stopped in Litherland for a coffee at Tesco's.  We thought it would be good stop again not so long after our pub stop as there aren't any other places very near to the canal to stop before we reached the end.

After our coffee break we walked towards Bootle and onto Sandhills and Kirkdale areas. We admired the old buildings on this stretch which some have been restored but others were left in derelict.  We were taken with the Bank Hall Building, a beautiful industrial building built in the 19th Century, and it would be great that the building is given life again.

We made customary photos stops at every mile post; it reminded us that we were nearer to our goal.  It was a good feeling when we reach the  Leeds 127 miles post and only quarter a mile or so to reach the Eldonian Basin.

Stanley Dock Branch Flight of Locks

We had to cross the bridge of Lock 1 on the Stanley Dock Branch flight of locks.  Sadly a couple of young bored wrong 'uns were playing with the gates but we crossed its bridge undeterred to the basin.  

We made it! 

There wasn't much at Eldonian Basin - just some visitors moorings and facilities.  Beyond is a residential area with a parade of shops.  It wasn't the end one expects when completing the canal by foot but with the Liverpool Link it's considered a mooring point.  It is considered that the Stanley Dock Branch and Liverpool Link is a "canal continuation" until boaters reach Salthouse Basin adjacent to Albert Dock in the City Centre. We retraced our steps, descended down the locks and walked up the main road to Sandhills Station for our train back to our hotel.

Though the canal's towpath ends there and the canal's current terminus (the canal did continue on for a mile and half into the city centre but has been infilled since the 1960s), we felt a big sense of accomplishment walking the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.  This is an adventure which I'll treasure for the rest of my life and something I recommend anyone to do.  A significant day indeed!  

There will be one more blog about our exploration of Liverpool Docks including the Stanley one.

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