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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Road to Wigan.

Another lovely morning saw us set off for the trip to Wigan. We quickly came across the East Lancashire Road (A580). I was surprised to read that it was opened in 1934 by King George V. I had always thought the Hitler building the autobahns was the precursor of the current motorways. The East Lancs. Road was an original joining Manchester and Liverpool. I suppose that they just didn't build them across the country.

We were travelling through a coal  mining area with the derelict wild land to show for it after a few miles we ran into Mill country again. This was at Bedford, now a suburb of Leigh, and it seems that they were silk mills. They were decorated as most Victorian industrial buildings were, but the domes on these made them look like Mosques.

Bedford Mill.

We stopped in Leigh to do some shopping and post some letters after which we had a bite to eat and continued. The mills soon gave way to mining areas again. The land on either side was again just wild land after the demolition of pits, the leveling of waste heaps and associated industries. The land was lower on both sides as the land had subsided so much over the years and the canal banks had been built up. We could motor on at a low revs on the engine and still do a good speed as the the canal is so deep. We were lucky at Plank Lane Lift Bridge as all our guides indicated that it had a keeper who opened it for you. We were just tying up when it opened to a let a boat coming the other way through. We fitted through at the same time and learned that it is  a DIY bridge and it had been lifted by the other boat.

A nice wide and deep canal, Bridgewater Canal.

The bridges on this section have a simple span that will allow the abutments to be built up as the land subsides to bring the level correct again.

The subsidence was so much that at the village of Dover the two locks could be done away with so I would guess that that would be about 20 feet at least!

Scotsman's Flash.

Some of the areas that subsided have filled with water and these are called Flashes. Here there is a sailing club and many have been left for the bird life. When I was doing my nautical training we used to go sailing once a week at a Flash. We couldn't use it in the winter as the water temperature was too cold. We then went and used the boating lake at Hoylake on the Wirral.

Large Leads and Liverpool Poolstock Locks.

Leigh marks the boundary between the Bridgewater and the start of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Leigh Branch. The canal continues to be of broad beam size and the gates are consequently larger and heavier. Helen is muscling up nicely for the challenges ahead but we both miss the narrow locks. We had four locks to do, two up and two down into Wigan. We stopped close to Wigan Pier and got water. After tea we will have a wander about and see what is what.

Milepost at the junction in Wigan. We will be in Liverpool on Sunday 23rd June.

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