Sunday, May 13, 2007

Canal Walk: Burscough to Appley Bridge

With the car parked on the road by Burscough Bridge we went underneath the bridge and set off towards Wigan. The cobbles around the former BWB depot are now overgrown. The depot is a sad sight indeed. Not far from the depot is another abandoned building, Ainscough’s mill. It was one of the last industries to use the canal for carrying. Now the building is empty with only trespassing teenagers able to appreciate its interior. The railway bridge here might be new addition as far as the canal is concerned but it pre-dates the American Civil War.
There are some interesting boats moored along the canal by the junction with the Rufford Branch and some narrow boats too.
Past the 25 mile milepost the canal passes through market gardens, where trees and garden plants are grown. Although I have walked this stretch before I did find two mileposts, a half and a quarter that I hadn’t spotted before. As well as the small mileposts there are rather larger canal features to look out for: pill boxes. There are three pill boxes that I have seen. They were part of the defences based around the canal that would stop Nazi paratroopers getting to Manchester. The weather forecasts threatened heavy rain by 12 noon but the sky was blue and it was hot.
At Parbold we saw Ambush, a working boat which once worked at Ainscoughs mill. It now sells red diesel and gas to boaters on the canal.
After a short break watching ducklings and baby moorhens eating midges we set off again. There were a few clouds on the horizon and by the time we reached Appley Lock there was some rain in the air. The Rose of Parbold was entering the big single lock heading back to its moorings at Parbold.
We got to the station in Appley bridge to see a train closing its doors, maybe if we had run we would have got it but we thought better of it. With half an hour to kill we went back to the canal and walked up to the swing bridge by the housing estate. The houses are built on the site of a factory and reflect how the canal has changed from trade and industry to housing and leisure. Somewhere along the way we managed to gain a towpath companion, a fat panting black lab/rotweiller cross. He waddled along with us, crossed the swingbridge and headed up to the Waters Edge pub where we saw his owner on the far side of the canal. We left the dog having a drink and went to the station to get the train back to Burscough Bridge. As we arrived in Burscough the heavens opened. I noticed some boats by the Bridge pub and looking over the far side of the bridge I saw a Callumcraft 17 on blocks. Then it was back to the car and home.