The Joy of being back on the canal

The metropolitan borough of Sefton might not hold the most beautiful section of canal, but after being cooped up for 8 months we smiled at CRTs latest advertising banner.

Sound advice

We woke to a family of goslings cutting across the calm reflection at Litherland, but knowing the forecast was predicted to hit the 30’s we didn’t hang around. And off we set, cruising freely again. Although we weren’t sure if the geese were seeing us off.

Too many to count

And the herons were providing a guard of honour

Nice tho see Herons again

It was a joy to see such a variety of wildlife again

Coots on their nest

Perhaps some was a little stranger than we expected.

Whatever floats your boat

And we’re not sure that exercise suits everyone

On the road to nowhere

One of the events to be cancelled during Lockdown was the Aintree Grand National. I wonder how many of those race goers have any idea what the turn at Canal Corner looks like on the outside of the fence.

Canal Corner

There are too many trees for us to see the course properly

The Aintree race course

So we carried on our way. We had been worried that the canal would have become a dumping ground with the council tips closed. To some extent we were right, but although there were a number of big plastic items bobbing around, we only had to stop once to remove the urban jelly fish from the prop. We hadn’t expected our journey to be stopped by a carpet of waterlillies

Are we still on the Canal?

We continued our journey though Maghull and into Lancashire, I’d had to open 7 swing bridges on today’s journey.

Yet another swing bridge

But I was well rewarded with views of fields with yellow rape and red poppies

Fields of gold

And dog daisies growing along the bank.

Dog daisies

Oh the sheer joy of being back on the canal, Anyone would think we hadn’t enjoyed Liverpool, which is wrong, we had made the most of a completely different lifestyle, it had been like being on a good holiday, but we were glad to be back home. One thing remained the constant. Our evening sunset.

Sunset at Downholland Cross

Moving on, Breaking free and setting sail

At long last we’re able to cruise again.
Back in March when the country realised the need to protect ourselves from the looming pandemic, we mulled over how we felt, were we safer or more at risk in a big city like Liverpool. There were pros and cons but on balance we decided safer. With a tall harbour wall protecting the handful of boaters from the general public and a fully serviced pontoon, we only needed to emerge when we chose, the food shops were an easy walk so we considered ourselves very lucky, when CRT made the decision to lock us in. Shortly after, the whole canal system was shut down with only essential travel permitted. Even the towpaths became off limits as well meaning passers by stopped to talk to moored boaters. We knuckled down for an unknown future, even fearing a second winter in Liverpool. I reinstated my nursing registration and volunteered to work at the Nightingale Northwest in Manchester, but thankfully the NHS coped and I wasn’t needed.
Unsure of when we would be allowed to cruise, we lost our first companions in mid May, when they arranged to have their boat craned out and transported by road to where they needed to be.

Cruising to the marina ready to be cranes out

At the end of May, 3 more of our friends made a bid for freedom even though the rules still remained not to use locks.

Nb Buffalo leaving via the Albert Dock

Another 2 followed the week after, we weren’t looking forward to cruising through all that weed and other debris thrown into the canal, whilst council tips remained off limits.

Thwarted only 10 minutes after setting off

By now we were getting weekly phone calls from the CRT office as the guidance was updated. The final 3 boats agreed to go our on June 17th. We weren’t too pleased to get a call on the 16th asking us to stay put another week, but we dutifully complied. And at 8am on 24th June 2020 with huge smiles on our faces, we finally all set off.

Sun’s shining, life jackets on and ready to go

The Green boat, as we affectionately called it cause their name isn’t painted on the side went first

The green boat, clearing the way

We were next

Entering Albert Dock

One of the advantages of travelling in convoy is receiving photos of Firecrest in fantastic places

Getting ready to go through Mann Island Lock

Thankfully the weed had been dispersed as we cruised under the watchful eyes of the Liver birds

Firecrest enjoying a clear run

The reward for waiting an extra week, was that lock keepers were back from furlough, so even though we had enough crew between us we only had to get off the boat to record the day

You’d imagine we’d run out of conversation after 8 months, but no

Sid has been looking after this stretch since it’s creation nearly 20 years ago and in recognition, the narrow channel between West Waterloo Dock and Trafalgar Dock is known as Sid’s Ditch. We had the honour of being accompanied by Sid as he hitched a lift on Bluebell’s bow.

Sid in Sid’s ditch on Bluebell

The volunteers were out in force, all happy to do the hard work to help us through the Stanley flight

We weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to our friends as we all moored up for the night at Litherland. And I was rewarded with another evening sunset

Sunset at Litherland

We all slept well that night.

With many thanks to Andy, Angie, Avril, Becka, Darren, David, Freya, James, Kitti, Little Darren, Mark, Paul, Reuben, Sharon, Sid, Stuart, Tam, the bin men, the checkout assistants, the CRT team the Dock security, the volunteers, and our families and anyone whose name I have missed off by mistake. Thankyou for helping us through Lockdown, stay safe x.