Saturday, October 13, 2007

Woke up to another gloomy, damp morning. Still quite mild, but feeler cooler because of the damp air. We were meeting Mags’ sister Audrey in Leigh, so got under way at 10:00.

Although landscaped and starting to recover from its industrial past, I thought this area was still pretty bleak. The towpaths have been surfaced with colliery waste, and as such, support little in the way of vegetation. The embankments raising the canal above the subsided land are faring better, with scrub oak, beech and birch taking a hold. Give it another 20 years.

In places you can see the successive layers of concrete that have been added to contain the channel.
Plank Lane with its BW bridgekeeper was reached after about 35 minutes, and we were waved straight through.

Plank Lane
Pennington Flash, a large expanse of water caused once again by subsidence, is now a country park, with sailing, golfing, picnic areas etc. Doesn’t look very inspiring in drizzly weather, though.

Pennington Flash
We moored just after Leigh Bridge to wait for Audrey, but somehow missed her. She’s not got a mobile phone, so we couldn’t get hold of her. We’ll probably catch up later in the week.

Leigh Bridge marks the end of the Leeds and Liverpool Leigh Branch, and the start of the Bridgewater Canal. Not much in the way of a dramatic change-over, though. You’d have thought that moving from a section of the longest artificial waterway in the country, to a section of the oldest, would have justified a little more celebration.

Leigh Bridge
Leaving Leigh, the canal continues it’s course, a lot of the time still elevated over the surrounding country. You’d have thought the views would be attractive, but I found these raised sections oddly depressing.

We passed through Astley Green with it’s mining museum, and moored just past Boothstown Basin, now occupied by Bridgewater Marina. I think we’ll stay here tomorrow, not wanting to cruise down through Sale and Stretford on a Sunday. The fishermen will be out in force, I expect. I’ll have a walk down to Worsley Delph, the entrance to the Duke of Bridgewater’s mines, which were the reason for the original cutting of the canal.

Locks none, miles 9

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