Saturday, June 03, 2006

Canal Walk: Wigan - Scarisbrick 13.5 miles

Its a gloriously sunny day so a longer walk than usual was called for; 10 miles from Wigan Pier to Burscough Bridge. The train from Southport to Wigan follows the canal and crosses it more than once. It was while looking at the canal I noticed that the towpath at Appley Bridge was still closed to walkers. Not a good start to the day but the stoppage would be three miles into the walk so I carried on as planned.
Turning right out of Wigan Wallgate it is a short walk down hill to the old terminus of the Leeds Liverpool at Wigan Pier. The original 1770 warehouses are still there, now hemmed in by two very busy roads. The area around the pier is being redeveloped so I walked up to Wigan Bottom Lock (#87) to see if I could see any progress. Trencherfield mill has scaffolding on it and is now closed to visitors. There was a boat approaching the lock, the first of many boats enjoying the sunshine. I turned around at the lock and headed back to the pier. The museum is now closed and the area quiet once more. Near the pier is a milepost marked as 34 miles to Liverpool. The plaques are replacements and the location is wrong, this post is 34.5miles from Liverpool and should be a half mile post.
Leaving Wigan by canal the view is dominated by the JJB Stadium on the left and a large basin on the right. The hedges are now fully grown and the mileposts I found over winter have disappeared again like Brigadoon until autumn. I had a brief stop by the disused Crooke lock to feed a horse and put a plaster on my bleeding toe. The woods around Crooke and Gathurst were perfect for such a warm day providing shade and a beautiful leafy backdrop to the canal.
At Dean Locks the signs warned of the towpath closure and the lack of diversion. So I went onto the island between the duel locks and had my lunch. There were quite a few cyclists who went past only to turn reappear once they had been foiled by the closure.
As I ate a boat was descending the lock, I thought about asking for a lift past the closed towpath but not wanting to hurry my food I decided to head back to Gathurst and find the station.
The journey from Gathurst to Appley bridge on the other side of the closed path takes 4 minutes at most and costs £1, had I got on the second carriage I could have avoided paying but the inspector had just enough time to sell me a ticket before I had to get off.

I had missed about a mile of towpath by taking the train but it was all part of the adventure.
Leaving Appley Bridge I passed the 3 Appley locks, one deep and two shallow and the site of my childhood stickleback fishing days.
Next stop was Parbold where I had a sit down and a drink to let my feet have a break. Not long after Parbold I began to feel a bit weary so when I reached the junction with the Rufford Branch I stopped for another break and to use the BWB facilities.Afterr somesurreall heckling from children I pressed ontowards Burscough bridge. My break by the top lock had recharged my batteries so instead of catching a train at Burscough Bridge station I passed through Burscough and walked on to Heatons Bridge (#28) 3 miles further on. Here I stopped and had a well earned pint and a welcomed burger and chips. I had traveled about 13.5 miles and due to my boots being 2 sizes too small got a couple of blisters.
I recommend this walk, the Southport to Wigan line follows the canal from Burscough Bridge to Wigan and is useful for getting to and from walks. I saw the more boats on the move today than I have for a long time, but still the canal is quiet in comparison to other navigations. If my feet let me I have another walk planned for tomorrow...

1 comment:

mally said...

Lots of baby water fowl about too!!!