Saturday 18 October

This morning’s breakfast was purchased from the Artisan baker back at the Wharf, after which we cast off and headed east back towards Wigan.   Another warm sunny day showed the picturesque countryside and Autumnal foliage at its best.

Two of the CaRT guys who’d escorted us into Liverpool were out in their van today and seemed to be stalking us as they kept appearing at swing bridges and also at one of the locks. They assisted with one bridge and gave us a cheery wave at others.

At Appley Bridge we found a boat broadsides across the canal. It was unmanned with its front rope, with mooring spike still attached, dangling under the water.   We did our good deed of the day and made it secure again with both mooring spikes hammered back into the bank.

The rest of our journey was uneventful and we passed under the M6 and after 7miles, two locks and three swing bridges we moored at Crooke in the Douglas Valley and took a brief stroll round the village before returning to the boat to do some baking.

A chocolate cake and a loaf of soda bread accompanied liver and bacon casserole for tea.

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Friday 17 October

We enjoyed a cooked breakfast before tackling two more swing bridges and the three miles back to Burscough. It was so warm in the sun that we were in short sleeves again.

While we filled up with water next to Burscough Bridge, I popped across the canal to look for coal at the chandlers.

The two guys busy making fenders, dressed alike, with their trousers held up with braces, and wearing clogs as they clomped across the cobbles to serve me, looked as though they were living in a time warp and the price of their coal confirmed they must be living in the past; less than £7 per 20kg bag.

With our front lockers full of coal, we moored up on the visitor moorings and went shopping.

The cake shop near the church had two vanilla slices left and as they were proper custard filled ones we took both and returned to the boat for afternoon tea – they were yummy.

By now the sunshine had disappeared and rain was threatening so we didn’t move on.

Thursday 16 October

The sun shone on the two boats leaving Salthouse Dock this morning and each boat was serenaded by a pair of swans who formed a flotilla as we entered Sid’s Ditch, with one in front and one behind each boat.

The CaRT guys were really jolly and saw us safely through all the locks and swing bridges as far as Bridge 9, after which we were responsible for operating the swing bridges ourselves.

By lunch-time we were basking in temperatures reminiscent of August – shame I’ve put the shorts away for the Winter!

Today we’ve travelled 23 miles and climbed through six locks and passed through seven swing bridges and moored at Heatons Bridge, about 3 miles west of Burscough in Lancashire.

We visited the Heatons Bridge Inn – a friendly, unspoilt canal-side pub which serves real ales, just as the Nicholson’s guide promised.

The Baltic Fleet visited last night, and the Heaton’s Bridge Inn tonight, are two of the best hostelries we’ve visited in a while.

We got chatting to a guy in the pub tonight who is keen to sell Storm an electric milkfloat …!

Wednesday 15 October

Having moored opposite Liverpool One, it would be wrong not to have a wander round the shops, especially when one of them is John Lewis, on a grey day.   We came back with some small purchases although we could have spent a small fortune.

We  spotted more life in the dock this morning – a large crab scuttling amongst the greenery on the dock wall.

We’d planned to visit the Slavery Museum this afternoon but  it was closed due to industrial action. Instead we wrapped up warm and headed out for a walk which was cut short when it started to rain.

After a dinner of spag bol and bakewell tart, we’re heading out to the Baltic Fleet Pub as this has been recommended to us – according to their website they brew their own beer in the cellar and the pub has an interesting history. (www.balticfleetpubliverpool.com)

 

 

Tuesday 14 October

Another action packed day. From our mooring the morning started off quite sunny but soon deteriorated into a dreary, cold, cloudy day.

The backdrop to our mooring.

The backdrop to our mooring.

We caught the 10am Mersey Ferry, Royal Iris, (or the River Experience Cruise) to Woodside (Birkenhead) via Seacombe and visited the U-Boat story where a very enthusiastic volunteer gave us a guided tour of the German World War II submarine, U534. He really brought the experiences of a submariner to life.

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The streets close to the Ferry terminal in Birkenhead were deserted and we headed off in the direction of Hamilton Square, a very smart Georgian square which wouldn’t look amiss in Bath or Bristol.   We’ve friends who are better acquainted with Birkenhead than we are and they’d talked dismissively of the place and we couldn’t understand why.   And then we then headed towards the large covered market and saw a different side to Birkenhead.   We didn’t linger long and headed back to Liverpool.

 

Crossing the Square in Birkenhead

Crossing the Square in Birkenhead

This evening, we’d been lucky enough to get a place on the Mersey tunnel tour and for anyone interested in large engineering projects this is a must!   You get to explore the Queensway Tunnel that goes under the Mersey to Birkenhead, visit the refuge areas under the walkway that keep drivers safe in the event of an incident, climb up to view the huge fresh air intake fans and the even bigger exhaust fans, walk under the roadway, see the walls of the Old George Dock that the building was built over and meet the guys who control everything to do with keeping the public safe in both the Queensway and the Kingsway Tunnels.

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The tunnel control room (occupied by two men 24 hours a day)

The original management control panel which allegedly responded quicker and more efficiently than the new computerised system

After that we headed out for a bite to eat and a drink before returning to the boat for an early night as we’ve walked miles, and climbed up and down a lot of stairs today.

 

Monday 13 October

We loaded the washing machine to take advantage of the free electric hook up in the dock and then took Max for a walk down river for an explore of the waterfront.

Jelly fish were spotted in the dock, when we looked beyond the plastic bags and bottles.

We walked past the Liver Building and noticed that when you look closely at the two birds, they have fronds in their beaks.

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We loved this tunnel booking office that now sits beside the Cunard Building.

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We returned Max back to the boat and we went off to visit the Maritime Museum which focusses on the loss of three of Cunard’s liners; the Titanic, the Lusitania and Empress of Ireland.

We were disappointed at Liverpool’s lack of illiterative links regarding the Litany of Liner Losses when we are used to the Hull Daily Mail ‘s headlines making much of Hull’s Triple Trawler Tragedy and Dunswell’s Double Decker Disaster!!

We returned to the boat for lunch and then set out again to visit Liverpool Tate where we studied the DLA Piper Series: Constellations which asks “Can abstraction change our perception of the built environment that surrounds us?” Quite a debate ensued between us as to what exactly we were being asked here.

After so much culture, we went and rescued Max and took him for a two mile walk up river to find the entrance from the Mersey into Liverpool Marina at Brunswick Lock.   To help appreciate how wide the entrance to the lock is, this is me standing in front of the top of one of the old lock gates…

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It was getting dark by the time we got back and it had started to rain, so we scurried back on board, cooked tea and, instead of venturing out again, we kept warm by the stove rather than being able to enjoy a red sky at night as we did last night.

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Sunday 12 October

The alarm went off at 7.30 this morning.   We still had a mile to travel before reaching Bridge 9,  the start of the assisted passage into Liverpool.

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Our quiet mooring out in the countryside at 7.30am this morning

 

We arrived at Bridge 9 and joined two other waiting boats.   Richard and John from CaRT arrived early to brief us about our journey and by 9am we were underway, soon passing Aintree Racecourse and the infamous Canal Turn.   There was too much planting to get a photograph of the course, and this was probably intentional to stop voyeurs standing on the towpath watching any racing, or frightening the horses.

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Leaving Bridge 10 in our convoy of three

A guy on a bridge, clasping his lager tin to his chest, welcomed us to Liverpool from one of the footbridges and wished us a good journey.

We stopped briefly at  Litherland and then continued on to the top of Stanley Locks (four locks that carry you down into Liverpool Docks).

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At the top of Stanley Locks

The huge tobacco warehouse beside Stanley Dock

The huge tobacco warehouse beside Stanley Dock

Travelling through Collingwood Dock, Salisbury Dock, Central Docks Channel, (or Sid’s Ditch as its now known as) Princes Dock, Princes Dock Lock, past the Liver Building, and the Liverpool Museum,  Canning Lock into Canning Dock and the half-tide lock, and Albert Dock we finally arrived into Salthouse Dock at 2pm.    What a fantastic journey and on such a lovely sunny day too.

Heading through Princes Dock towards the Lock

Heading through Princes Dock towards the Lock

Canning Half Tide Dock

Canning Half Tide Dock