Sunday, May 18, 2008

Canal Walk: Burscough

After lunch we parked by Burscough Bridge. I took some photos of the new street furniture in Burscough and of the Waterfront pub. We walked up to the Farmers Arms, taking photos of the Slipway on the way. As we walked we had a look at the wild flowers on the towpath. Most were known to us but there were plenty we needed to look up.
I was surprised to see that the half mile and 22 mile post have been painted. Some one has been busy with the paintbrush!
At the Farmers Arms a couple were making hard work of operating the swingbridge. Luckily for the waiting motorists I was passing and pointed out the bridge wouldnt do anything while the barriers were open. On the way back to Burscough I did my second good turn by freeing an anglers line from the towpath.
The towpath was busy with walkers and it is always good to see boats on the move.

Canal Pub Review: Ring O' Bells

Although I have walked passed the Ring O' Bells pub many times I have never set foot inside it until today. We parked in the pubs car park. Rather surprisingly for a Sunday lunchtime the pub was almost empty. There was plenty of choice of where to sit in the large dining area. We sat by the window over looking the fied with the sheep. The sheep have very impressive horns and look prehistoric. There is an outdoor and indoor play area for the children.
At the bar there were 3 or 4 draught beers including Bishops Finger. I stuck with a coke thanks to the car.
There are a number of menus at the Ring O Bells. The main menu has all the usual meals, with steaks for less than £10.00. There is also a Curry Menu, a Childrens Menu and a snack menu. The snack menu has sandwiches for £3.50 to 3.95 or hot baggettes for £3.95 to £4.95 and jacket potatoes.
We ordered a prawn sandwich and a jacket potato with prawns. The food didn't take long to arrive and was generously piled with prawns.
After eating we left the pub to find two large Old English Sheep dogs on the sloping roof of the pub.
The pub was okay and I think it would be a great place for a sumer time drink.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Canal Collection

I have recently started collection canal memorabilia. Today I got a couple of pre-war postcards of the canal in Maghull. I also got an invoice and letter from the Leeds Liverpool Canal Company regarding transportation of olive oil from Liverpool to Bradford in 1919. Hopefully I will put some of these items on www.towpathtreks.co.uk when it is relaunched.

Canal Walk: Liverpool Circular

It was a sunny Sunday today, well at least until the barbeque was lit this afternoon. I wanted to walk the route of the third of my walks I have written for people to download from www.towpathtreks.co.uk. I wanted to check the walk was easy to follow and see how long it took. And if there was anything interesting along the way I could add it in.
The walk starts at Old Hall Street but we parked at the large car park by the Echo Area. The aim was to get back to the car within 2 hours to save me paying another £2. I had thought about parking on the road but opted for the car park.
We walked from the Albert Dock to Old Hall Street. The Pierhead was busy. Here were lots of football fans about, blues, reds, and quite a few Newcastle fans here for the last game of the Premiership season.
Old Hall Street has seen a lot of change recently. There are new office buildings which makes the small brick building that is the remains of Clarkes Basin look all the more anachronistic. As last nights hen party got into their taxi we looked at the information panels on the girder out side the hotel. At the end of Old Hall Street we turned right on to Leeds Street. Leeds Street was widened and some of the canal terminus buildings were lost as a result. A car show room now stands where the canal headquarters once were. I had a quick look behind the canal warehouses. The basin is now a carpark but the large stones of the edge of the basin are still there. Back on Pall Mall a woman was clearing up the glass from her broken car window. I was glad I parked in the car park. Past the remains of the boatmen’s mission we turned right into Chisenhale Street and over the old canal bridge which remains in good condition considering the canal underneath it was filled in 40 years ago. There are buildings on both sides of it so unless there is a disaster there is slim chance of the canal being restored.
Over the bridge it was a short walk up Chisenhale Street then left onto Vauxhall Road. The Green Man pub is still standing. It featured in the last episode of the Boys from the Blackstuff. The Boys drink there before crossing the road and walking through the Tate and Lyle works as they are being demolished. These days the Eldonian Village estate is over the road. We went across the carpark of the village hall and down to the towpath. Eldonian Village was built for a community. Mothers were actually stood talking over the garden fence while their children played on the towpath. This is a redevelopment that has worked. Compare this to the empty blocks of luxury apartments built along the Regents Canal.
We walked down the Stanley Dock branch, through the doorway and across Great Howard Street to the Heritage Market. The market has had trouble because of the large amounts of fake goods sold there. They claim to have stopped this and are hoping to promote the market as an attraction. I chose not to buy a DVD of the new Indiana Jones film (not yet out at the cinema) and walked through the market to exit on the other side.
We walked up the dock road to Princes Dock. There are two new temporary bridges across the dock while the old bridges are changed to allow boats to pass under them. HMS Bulwark was visiting the new landing stage and drawing a big crowd. The new canal lock is nearly finished and you can see where the gates will go. The canal link across the front of the Three Graces looks close to completion. We managed to get back to the car with a few minutes to spare. The whole walk took about 2 hours without any stops at quite a quick pace.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Canal Pub Review: Saracens Head Halsall

As it was a sunny summer evening and with a birthday to celebrate it seemed a good opportunity to go to the newly refurbished Sarcacens Head at Halsall.
From the outside not too much has changed. The pub now has a modern sign and some nice new wooden seating. The pub is lucky to have a large car park at the back so there was no problem finding somewhere to park. The pub re-opened 8 weeks ago and there are still signs that it is not quite finished yet, not least the fact that the main doors were still being fitted when we arrived.
Once you go inside you can see where the money was spent. The pub has been completely refurbished in a very classy modern style. There are some black and white photos of the old pub and canal scenes but there has been no attempt to recreate a country pub.
There were two menus, a bar menu and the dinner menu. the bar menu is available until 8pm, later than some pubs. We had the fish and chips, the gammon and a New York burger. When the food arrived any fears that they would be trendy (ie small) portions were gone. The food was hot, it hadnt been hanging around in the kitchen. The prices are good for that class of establishment, much better than the Blackburne Arms in Liverpool. We managed to fit in some deserts too, the apple crumble (served in a cup!) was hot and had plenty of apple.
There were a couple of negatives, we had started to look at our watches waiting for the food and the waitresses need a bit of practice and they need to smile more.
I recommend evryone to see this pub while it is newly refurbished and enjoy and meal and a drink while you are there.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Canal Walk: Halsall to Scarisbrick

Bank Holiday Monday and it isn't raining so it was off to the canal for towpath trek. Its been a while since I have had a walk on the canal and it was nice to be back.
We parked on the small car park next to Halsall Warehouse Bridge over the canal from the Saracens Head pub. We walked towards Scarisbrick to see how the new marina was progressing. The sky was grey and it was warm and a bit humid. There were lots of people out walking, fishing, and cruising.
The blossoms and hedgerow flowers were out and attracting butterflies.
The mysterious milepost painter has visited milepost 19 and pruned back the hedge and painted the milepost. Its now easily visible, before it was camouflaged.
Approaching the Red Lion caravan place by Scarisbrick bridge there is a new fence being built on the towpath. The field behind it will soon be a new marina. Its a shame that the fence wasnt built on the farm land rather than on the canal land. At least they haven't dug up and stolen the 20mile milepost to build it as they have at Rufford.
We turned around at the bridge and walked back stopping off to look for pottery in a newly ploughed field.