A series of walks, in an as yet unknown number of sections, where Sarah and I will walk to Leeds along the Leeds Liverpool Canal.
We began this walk last Sunday by walking through this magic doorway and then having the idea of walking all of the rest of the way to Leeds over the next few months.In the week since then our resident map maker Sarah has been planning the possible sections of the walk and we’ve both got quite excited about doing something so obvious we wonder why it took us so long to think of it.
Anyway the Sunday after we first have the idea we get the train to Sandhills and walk back a little way to Boundary Street to resume this Section One where we left off last week.
Leeds is that way.
And by the way, I’m not going to catalogue the bridges and things along the way. As if. If you want detail Sarah recommends Towpath Treks.
The old British American Tobacco building, now apartments.
The towpath is packed with bits of the past.
It is a slate grey bitingly cold day where we’re very grateful for our thermals, top and bottom.
The canal is busy with urban wildlife.
And gorgeous empty buildings.
This end of the canal, from Liverpool to Aintree, is ‘remaindered’ Sarah tells me. Meaning structural care is taken but it hasn’t been used for trade since the 1970s and we’ll see no leisure boats today.
We think it’s beautiful.
Ancient rails and a turntable.
A surprise garden.
We’re in Kirkdale getting towards Bootle now.
Neither of us have ever walked along here before and our sense of where we are at most times is disorientated. The canal being often concealed from the neighbourhoods it’s passing through by edgeland overgrowth and industrial walls.
Just the occasional clear view. “Oh we’re just opposite Wallasey.”
In Bootle now, a sudden garden, with bees.
Then all along, graveyards of written off cars waiting to be crushed and sold as scrap.
“If society broke down we’d find ways to fix most of them and use them” says Sarah.
Miller’s Bridge, where I’m partly from.
My mother was born in Canal Street, just by here. My father back near the secret door where we started. I am a child of this canal.
Passing Bootle Town Hall.
And where the Magical Mystery Tour buses live.
Not finding any welcoming canalside pubs yet.
We saw the beginning of this trail last week at the Eldonian Village, where the canal now starts.
It used to go as far as Pall Mall and Leeds Street near the middle of town. And one day I’ll do a walk around there to find evidence of those long gone days.
The towpath changes sides. “A changeline” says Sarah, who’s been reading up ready for this.
“The Carolina Basin” she tells me. “And it’s thought that stump thing was part of a crane.”
Relatively recent renewal. “City of Challenge 1994”
We’re at The Strand shopping centre here.
The old gasworks. I remember being brought from my Bootle school to here to draw it.
Bulrushes along both sides.
Beautiful and abandoned.
I think this is part of the Klondyke. A whole area destroyed by the Housing Market Renewal Initiative.
Think that’s the first mention for the loathed HMRI on here this year! Destroying neighbourhoods and communities so the housing market can be renewed by forcing people out of their homes and making them have to find new ones, maybe even buy some of these.
This’ll be an HMRI bridge then.
Let’s walk on.
By now you may be wondering, even worrying, where will they go for a wee?
Well there’s your answer. A Tesco megastore, with toilets, turning up just when it’s needed.
We’re at what used to be the Seaforth/Litherland Lift Bridge. Still some old canal buildings in use here.
And the first barge we’ve seen.
Some sort of canal cleaner upper.
Well done you.
Probably the old bridge keeper’s cottage.
Here’s what the old bridge looked like.The Red Lion pub is still here.I used to come to school in Bootle across the old bridge in the 1960s. Now it’s a major road bridge going down to the docks.
With just this small swing bridge to get us over to Tesco for the toilets.
That done we continue into Litherland.
For a good while now there have been no seats along the canal. Are we being dissuaded from ‘loitering?’
A back fence done up as a barge called Anna.
Time for lunch then.
And at last we find a bench.
Close to the river and the docks still.
But as we walk on the canal now turns inland past Rimrose and towards Netherton. We’re on the Lancashire plain now and the bitterly cold wind reminds me of being a child around here in the icy winters of the early 1960s.
Most houses we pass back onto the canal but pretend to ignore it for some reason. Some do a better job though. While this development completely wastes its waterside location. Pathetic.
Unwanted Christmas present?
Early blossoms. Too early?
Well into Netherton now.
And a word about the walking.
As you can see and possibly because of this beginning section of the canal being ‘remaindered’ the towpath isn’t being maintained. Making the walking along it fairly hard going. It’s ok in bits where it’s grassed over but the majority of it today where it’s broken tarmac is not a pleasure. We’re both hoping at this point that it’ll get better after Aintree?
And here is Aintree, coming towards the end of today’s walk, the end of Section One. Close to Switch Island and the motorways at the edge of the city.
We walk up Wally’s Steps on the left there.
Sarah conducted the funeral of a town planner. And was told about someone who loved fishing on the canal and became the leader of a campaign to keep the steps open so people could still get to their beloved angling, when plans were made to close them. The man, Wally, won and so the gracious planner named the steps after him.
A true story.
Down the hill in Aintree to the railway station.
Past the long shut Old Roan pub. A sad sight.
Just in time for the train back into Liverpool.
Finally, for today, Sarah’s map of the route.
Moaning about the towpath aside we really enjoyed that, and will be back for Section Two very soon!