Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What a cracking day!

Hot sunshine this afternoon, everyone’s walking around with smiles on their faces, hoping that summer has finally arrived.

We left Worsley around 11, past the Packet House and the entrance to The Delph, where the Duke brought the coal out of his mine.
Begun in 1759, by 1801 there were 52 miles of tunnels for carrying coal out and for drainage. In 1968 the closure of the last pit in the area, Mosley Common, made the underground canals redundant.

Packet House and Delph.
There’s a large green in the village, open and attractive now but 250 years ago full of industry. This is where all the craftsmen who’s work supported the mine and canal were established. The area would have been noisy with foundries, blacksmiths, farriers and carpenters.It must have been a blessing to the residents when the mine closed in 1887. But now there’s another noisy intrusion. The M60 runs just to the west of the village, a background mutter at night but almost a roar during the rush hour.

Under the M60I suppose you could say we’re out of the city now, having crossed the orbital motorway.

Heading into Leigh we spotted our first cygnets of the year.I don’t think they are much more than a couple of days old.

Leigh is another of those mill towns, and still has some of the buildings standing.

Butts Mill overshadows the canal and towpathMore mills either side of the canal.
Leigh is also where the Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal meets the Leigh Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool.

Change of canal at Leigh Bridge
There’s also a change of navigation authority. We’ve moved from the Manchester Ship Canal Co. to British Waterways.
Plank Lane with it’s manned lift bridge is the next landmark, good moorings here, but there’s a lot of development work going on across the water.

Plank Lane Bridge
Birse is busy at Plank Lane, reclaiming the former Bickershaw Colliery site.
Any guesses what’s going to be here? No? A marina, housing and some form of industry, apparently.

We toddled on another 1½ miles or so to the Dover Lock Inn, where we pulled over for the night.

Dover Lock Inn. The moorings are just through the bridge.
There used to be two locks here (and one at Plank Lane) but subsidence has forced the adjustment of the canal level. These locks are now at Wigan.

Locks 0, miles 9½

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