We slipped our mooring. Said goodbye to Mal and the excellent Stretford marina. Rear Admiral Thomas at the helm, we took the Leigh branch of the canal towards Leigh, via the “Wonder of the Waterways” – Barton Aqueduct and Worsley – where all the canals originate . .
After all the rain, it was so good to have some sunshine. We said goodbye to the view (and smell) of Kellogg’s
After 30 minutes we approached the Barton aqueduct – originally a Brindley design of 1761 but replaced in the 1890′s with a swing bridge. Some 235 feet long and carrying 1450 tons to swing over the ship canal. “It’s a bit squalid” said Viv and yes, sadly it is but still quite a feat of engineering and rather unsettling to drive over – like the Pontcysllte one, a big drop down the side!
Am I bothered? Yes, a bit.
Onwards – a sharp bend and yes, a lighthouse! Then Worsley comes into view – the raison d’etre of the canals – to ship ore from the Duke of Bridgewater’s mines. The ochre colour of the waters showing the iron ore is still around.
We chugged on to the final few miles of the Bridgewater, noting the colliery ahead (now the Astley Green museum)
We began to approach Leigh – famous for its cotton mills – Viv found the name on this chimney amusing . .
Aha! The end of the Bridgewater and the beginning of the Leeds & Liverpool (Leigh branch). We moored in the town to restock (milk) and visit one of Dave’s researches – the White Lion.
East Lancashire’s pub of the year … and well deserved it is too as we found an old fashioned boozer with separate rooms, run by Harry. He had about lots of beers on and all at a CAMRA discount which made em £2.20 a pint (we’ll come back here!!), Roboinson’s Robohop, Darkstar Hophead, Sandiway’s HopSalad, Adnams Fat Sprat, Allgates Wigan Junction and Totalll Brewed’s Crazy Like a Fox … brilliant.
Just 10 minutes further chugging brought us to the end of day mooring beside Pennington Flash – a huge lake caused by mining subsidence (coal this time). David remembers sailing on this lake back in’82 and now the Boggle gets his promised swim …