Hello Bridgewater Canal!

We woke to a glorious day, on this beautiful canal, the Leigh Arm of the Leeds to Liverpool.

We said ‘good bye’ to our neighbours who had ‘kindly’ woken Rusty at 5 this morning!

Passing a very busy swan who was concentrating on her morning preening.

We are cruising in an area where coal mining was the main industry. We can now only imagine what this area must have looked like.

Each coal/slag area has been replaced with ‘flashes’ or lakes. With all the recreational facilities on these expanses of water, it must look like utopia to the old miners and bargees that worked and lived in this area.

Personally there’s a ‘belonging feel’ about this area, I had a relative on my mother’s side who was a coal bargee on this stretch. Though the family didn’t live on the boats here, as they did in the Midlands. On my father’s side there are generations of coal miners, the first generation coming from Mold, Wales, about 1800 to work in the Leigh coal mines. My grandmother was in fact born in Leigh.

Sharp eyed John spotted a winding head. It wasn’t working of course, yet it looked like a ‘ghost’ from a by-gone age.

It’s the first time we’ve seen this type of wharf, the wharf has ‘bay areas’ giving the side a jagged edge.

On this stretch, the water is definitely a different colour. We’re imagining the area is rich in iron ore.

We arrived at the Plank Lane lift bridge around 10:30 a.m., well outside the rush hour restrictions. There was no sign of ‘John 2’, and we didn’t expect we’d see him.

John manned the electric lift bridge, and I took Cyan through. With the sharp wind that was blowing, I was pleased there was a narrow ‘throat’ leading to the the bridge. It kept Cyan ‘still’ while the automatic procedure worked its sequence of sounding an alarm, turning traffic lights red to stop the traffic, dropping traffic barriers, then lifting the bridge. Obviously when Cyan had passed through, the sequence set off again, though in reverse, eventually John’s waterway key was released.

The picture is looking back at the lift bridge.

By the lift bridge a new marina is being built, along with a new housing estate. It’s great to see the canal is a feature in the architecture.

The new houses have solar panels incorporated into the roof. Sad they couldn’t do the same with satellite dishes, and burglar alarms. I’m sure one day every house will be like a pod, generating its own energy, rather like narrowboats.

The picture below is not very clear, but this sculpture looks like a book standing on its end, its constructed with old lock gates.

Remains of an old railway bridge, tidied up, with a grass planted on top.

Eventually we came to the end of the Leigh Arm of the L&L, the cruise was nothing as we imagined, it was beautiful, and it’s thoroughly recommended.

Before we passed onto the Bridgewater we’d planned to stop by the ‘Waterside Inn’ where there’s an Aldi next to the mooring; our cupboards are getting bare. When we arrived we were disappointed to find all the moorings were taken. It wasn’t convenient to moor on the other side of the canal, using the bridge, as the bridge was on a busy road, and the door to Aldi was rather far to carry bags of shopping. So we moved on, to formulate another plan later.

Hello the Bridgewater!

The entrance to the Bridgewater is understated, and its without a stop lock. Basically we sailed under Leigh Bridge #11, coming out of the Bridge and onto the Bridgewater. On the Bridgewater side there’s a lovely wooden sculpture of two arms linking, one ‘arm’ is the Broadwater and one is the L&L.

We passed the new bridge, which looks to be still under construction. We had been told (unconfirmed) the original bridge had been pulled down, and that bit of the canal filled in, a temporary road was placed on top, This bit of road was used by contractors building the new estate that’s close by.  The work had stopped boats passing through the length of the Bridgewater for several months.

It’s lovely to see, what was an old derelict wharf, planted up and made into a peaceful garden.

We arrived at our mooring at Worsley Delph. Unbelievable to think the Canal went underground to carry coal from the coal face and drainage water out of the mines. Here’s more information.

Our mooring’s at a lovely setting, in the middle of Worsley, and right next to a small memorial park.

Mooring right next to us was the ‘Water Womble’!

The Water Womble works up and down the Bridgewater, collecting rubbish from the canal.

A member of the crew explained to John about the history of the ‘Water Womble’, it appears an owner of a trip boat was so fed up, and embarrassed over the rubbish in the canal, that after he moored up his trip boat, he went out on another boat to collect the rubbish. Eventually, over 20 years ago, he bought the ‘Water Womble’, employing staff to collect the rubbish. Nowadays, I believe the Water Womble is paid by the owners of the canal.

When the owner first bought the ‘rubbish collecting’ boat, children in the area would throw things at it, they didn’t like it. Until he came up with the idea of calling it a ‘Water Womble’, and painting a womble on the front. Children now love it, and look out for it and throw their rubbish ‘into’ the boat! What a great idea for a Franchise Operation on other canals? How about it CRT?

It looks to be very successful too as the Bridgewater canal is pristine!

Worsely is in bloom, making it a lovely place to visit.

Today we’ve travelled 10 very enjoyable miles. WiFi is barely available, and only a small digital TV signal.

[NB: We’ve now started on our ‘new’ mini journey, which will take us from the start of the Leigh Arm on the Leeds to Liverpool Canal, and ending at Aqueduct Marina on the Middlewhich Canal; the journey will be 64 miles, and will transit through 9 locks, one lift bridge, and the Anderton Boatlift.]

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