Monday, November 27, 2006

Canal Walk: Around and About Appley Bridge

Blue skies over Lancashire today but only a small trek planned. We parked at Appley Bridge #42 in the public car park and set off towards the locks. This is a favourite stretch of canal for me. There are three locks at Appley locks. Boaters had a choice of using one deep lock or two shallower ones. The single lock was put in to save water, something which was a big concern on the Leeds Liverpool during its working life. Today I wanted to visit the two shallower locks which are disused these days.
Pennine Waterway by Gordon Biddle has a photo of the last horse drawn barge leaving Appley Lock in 1960. Anyone who has visited the locks will notice the biggest change since that time; the photograph shows a large house in between the two sets of locks and some houses to the left of the canal. There is no sign at all of these buildings today. Indeed it is hard to image there was enough room for a house on the thin strip of land between the locks and the field to the left looks like any other. There are many sites along the canal where canalside buildings have disappeared without trace, only now visible on old maps and photographs.
The two locks are in a poor state today. The balance beams have rotted and the gates nailed shut. The bridge over to the far side has gone from the upper lock and partially fallen off the lower one.
As we were leaving the locks a barge was approaching to lock up the single deep lock. Feeling like gongoozlers we crossed back to the towpath and walked back to Appley Bridge.
I many of the guidebooks to the canal this area is noted for its large smelly glue factory, today industry is hard to see and the glue factory replaced by a modern housing estate.
There is no sign of milepost 30 but the milestone is there. It is falling very slowly down the embankment, see if you ca spot it just past Appley bridge. We saw a very strange sight a pair of duck with a brood of tiny ducklings. This is late November but obviously the ducks thought it was early spring.
On the way home we stopped off at Parbold to relocate and photograph the 27 mile milepost. This milepost is in a thick hedge and only visible in winter. After a brief search I found it again and cleared the brambles to photograph it. I also moved the barbed wire from the front to the back of it to stop it wearing the post any more and hopefully to stop the post falling backwards down the embankment. If you ever see a man taking photographs of hedges by the canal, it’s probably me and the mileposts. How nice it would be to clear and paint these mileposts before more are lost.

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