The second section of our walk along the whole of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. 127 miles to Leeds with 119 to go. On this day we cover the 8 miles from Aintree to Downholland Cross, walking out of Liverpool.
Quality graffiti here. So today will we be Riders on the Storm who will Break on Through to the Other Side? Well.
It’s a ‘paramo’ thing and apparently ‘jacket’ is hardly the word for something that will prove to keep her warm, keep her dry, keep her cool, keep her ventilated and be her best friend when other humans, me, aren’t quite up to the mark. It’s a miracle. And you can keep canal maps in the front.
In a few weeks The Grand National will be run here and this road through the racecourse will be closed. For me though, this place is less about horses than the racing cars that once ran here along the road you can see there on the left. I would be brought here to watch them as a small boy.
Born in Walton and moving back into inner Liverpool as soon as I grew up, I nevertheless did much of that growing up in the places we’ll be walking through today.
Notice Sarah’s sitting on the ground, as through Sefton so far there’s been a serious shortage of benches. We wonder why? Are the likes of us a dangerous rabble who are to be prevented from loitering? Or is the canal a precious resource made the more precious by more of us enjoying it?
So we stop and have this week’s lunch.
If this series of walks does encourage you to try some or all of them too, then we suspect this ‘where to go for a wee’ mini-feature each week will be more valuable to you than much of what I’m writing here.
Nothing special to be honest, and another time we might prefer the nearby pub, the Great Mogul.
Well, discuss, but having a pint in passing would undo the entire point of going in there wouldn’t it?
We’re finishing our time together at nearby St George’s Junior School and early one balmy evening all of us, girls included, gather here. Some football is played, but my main memory is that most of us never see each other again, as we go off to our separate schools. I never return to this field again either, until today when this precious memory returns to me.
Along the walk so far we’re finding much more of a tendency to turn away from the canal, like it’s a problem?
And to be fair to Sefton Council, or someone, there are some benches along here for watching the matches.
We are now deep into my childhood and I’m dawdling along here with my friends from 50 years ago.
My friend and companion from those days on the towpath, Barry Ward, sent me this picture the other day, knowing we were about to do this walk. He maintains the small boy in the cap is me?
I think Mrs Lucy would have something to say about that.
Back when we were boys we’d unhook the bridge (never locked), take a run at it and swing it open for the passing barges, singing as we swivelled out across the water:
“If there’s anything that you want, if there’s anything I can do,
Just call on me and I’ll send it along
With love from me to you!”
And here we are, the boys from back then, again courtesy of Barry at ‘our’ swing bridge on a visit three years ago.
Along a whole run of houses on Liverpool Road North we find the best appreciations so far that they’ve got a beautiful canal at the ends of their long thin back gardens. Though opposite to them, on our towpath side is a Maghull going on Lydiate I have no knowledge of.
As we feel ourselves moving out of the orbit of a wider Liverpool to a very definite somewhere else.
“In horse drawn days sticks would be driven through these to keep the tow ropes from chafing on the corner of the bridge there.”
As we sit talking peacefully and drinking our tea, a golden evening happens.
Coming close to the end of today’s walk, near Downholland Cross, we find the first bit of catering directly on to the canal bank.
Hoping to see more of this hospitality as we walk on.
Sarah’s map of today’s walk, Section 2.
A really lovely day, helped by the oncoming spring. Next section of our walk of the whole Leeds Liverpool Canal likely to be in two weeks time, 5th March, as Sarah has sea kayaking to do next weekend.