Last Leg – Litherland to Liverpool 24th May 2018
Arriving from various points on Merseyrail, we met at Seaforth and Litherland Station and made our way past the Beatles Mural to the canal. Here we came across a Canal and River Trust stand, manned by fund raising volunteers who, bizarrely, couldn’t accept donations! They sent us on our way and congratulated us on nearing the end of our exploit. We found this stretch of the canal to be surprisingly green with trees and bushes on the banks and bulrushes and lily pads in the water. Lots of “aahhs” were heard as we came across families of coots with cute chicks (cootlings?) among the lily pads. After passing under Litherland Road Bridge we had views of the Triad Building. The towpath then switched sides at Stanley Road and the New Strand, where we stopped for drinks as it was a hot, sunny day. More “aahhs” as we saw some goslings before a familiar name appeared on the far bank – the Maghull Coaches depot. I hadn’t realised how many coaches they owned. Also on the far bank were a number of beehives and a relic of the past – a sign for “Coopers – makers of quality barrels”. On the towpath side was a mural depicting various gardening and woodworking tools. At Sandhills Bridge, a mile post (for 126½ miles to Leeds) had graffiti which questioned our sanity “Who the xxxx’s gonna walk from here to Leeds? Lol”. Shortly we reached the Vauxhall Bridge (opened by Cilla Black) and the Eldonian Village where the canal used to continue into Liverpool. We turned 90 degrees to the right and to the Grade I listed Stanley Flight of locks built by Jesse Hartley. This once led to the Mersey, but since the Liverpool Link was built, it now takes the canal through Waterloo and Princes Docks to the Pier Head and and the Albert Dock. We had our lunch here as Canal and River Trust volunteers worked the locks to move three boats through the flight. Another two boats had moored here to have their lunch. Altogether, a quite entertaining lunch stop. David gave us an insight into the layout of Liverpool in the 1800s with the aid of an extended map/illustration of the area. As there is no towpath at the end of this flight of locks, we then followed the original route of the canal to the Eldonian Village Hall for a quick toilet stop, before walking through the village to Love Lane, Pall Mall, Leeds Street and Old Hall Street. Here at the (now filled in) Clarke’s Basin, David pointed out a small restored eighteenth/nineteenth century office building where one of the original wharves stood. We then made our way down Brook Street to Princes Dock and rejoined the Liverpool Link of the canal. We left Princes Dock and reached the Pier Head where the canal passes through several tunnels on its way to the Albert Dock. To mark the completion of our 127½ miles of walks, we adjourned to the Matou terrace bar for a celebratory drink in the sunshine.