Sunday, February 25, 2007

Canal Walk: Walton Summit Branch

I parked at Botany Bay just off Junction 8 of the M61 next to the half mile post. The weather was grey and a bit rainy so I had chosen a short trek to see what was left of the Walton Summit Branch. It is about three quarters of a mile from Botany Bay to the Junction. To the right are the locks at Johnsons Hillock taking the canal up to meet the Leeds Liverpool proper, to the left is what is left of the Walton Summit Branch. There is only a quarter of a mile of canal left with no winding hole or room to turn a boat that cannot turn on an ordinary stretch of canal and anyway boats aren't allowed down here. The canal ends abruptly at what was once the Johnsons Hillock bridge. Beyond its end there is no sign of there having ever been a canal here except the white Navigation House nearby which was once the Navigation Inn. I did find a battered quarter milepost at the end of the line.
After a quick look around I headed back to the main line and walked up the locks. The BWB mainatance boats Cornwall, Yarrow and Clitheroe II were at the locks fitting new gates.
By the small toll house at 4th Lock Bridge I tried to work out how the system worked for towing boats with no towpath under the bridge. There is a metal hook on the bridge which was obviously used and the bollards were well worn as were the stone work a the top of the bridge. The horse could cross the road and pull the boat out of the lock. The rope would go from the boat, around the hook, back to the bollard and then to the horse. At some point the rope would have to be detatched from the boat.

The buildings of Lock Farm are dated 1727, that is before the canal was started in the 1770s

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