Liverpool Canal Link

The 'new' link from Eldonian village (previously pretty much the 'end' of the Leeds Liverpool Canal) down through the docks (including Albert Dock) and moorings at Salthouse Dock opened earlier this year.

Helpfully named the "Liverpool Canal Link" (LCL), Charlotte and I decided to deviate from our planned tour of the Trent, Trent & Mersey, Bridgewater, Leeds Liverpool route a couple of weeks ago to add the part of the Leeds Liverpool from Wigan down into the heart of historic Liverpool.

Here are our thoughts...

Booking - You need to give 5 days notice, fill in a form and provide copies of insurance and BSS.  This can be done en-route by calling into the BW Wigan Office (call first) and dealing with a very friendly and extremely efficient person called Denise Bradshaw - to whom I am personally grateful for her understanding and patience (after a while boating I don't know what day, date or month it is, where I am and often what I'm doing!).  The folk in the Wigan Office didn't seem the slightest bit bothered that I was also dripping heavily onto their carpet - it had been raining that day, lots.

The Booking Confirmation and Itinerary contains the 'Rules of Navigation', 'Terms and Conditions' and other local information and contacts' together with a very good 'Skippers Guide'.  Our version was still a Draft, but good none-the-less.

All in all, easy and simple. Actually, a pleasure to deal with BW staff who are helpful, knowedgable and friendly.  The information was clear and understandable, the forms not overly officious.

The Journey - This is currently structured as a two day passage.
Day one, and early start from Bridge 9 on the Leeds Liverpool Canal.  This is going to be one of the most discussed parts of the LCL I reckon, well, more about where you should moor the night before.  There were 6 boats at the moorings by Bridge 9, and none of us had any problems - however, other boaters we met had some horror stories about mooring there alone.  We did think about mooring back at the previous swing bridge, but the early start put me off!  I was chatting to a group of local youths who, although initially seeming to be a little rough around the edges, were actually a smashing bunch and appeared quite bemused seeing boats on the canal.  We chatted about the link and they were genuinely interested.  I'll come back to this later in my final analysis.
So, you meet the 'lockies' at Bridge 9 and they'll take you through the next couple of swing bridges - there may be a delay as arrival at the next bridge co-incides with rush hour!  After this you're free to take your own pace down to Litherland where there's water, Elsan, Pump-out and the 'last bins before Liverpool' - sadly no recycling point, but this may soon change as there's a huge new Tesco store being built right next to Litherland.  After using the services you have a shortish cruise down to Eldonian Village basin, by the top lock of the Stanley Flight.  Eldonian Basin isn't very big and you're best turning by top lock and reversing into the basin.  That's about it for day one.  You may find using large fenders, or boatpoles when mooring at Eldonian Basin leads to a more peaceful night, as there's a sub-shelf under the waterline upon which your boat may bang!

Day Two, is a more leisurely start (09.30ish).  You'll be expected to meet the lockies at top lock on the Stanley flight and they'll pen you down the 4 locks.  Leaving the flight you pass through Stanley Dock - and on the left is the most magnificent of buildings; "The Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse". The rest of the LCL, down through the two new locks and into Alert Dock before mooring (you'll be advised of your moorig in your Confirmation letter) in Salthouse Dock is covered in the timelapse video below.  That's it for Day Two, you're now in the heart of historic Liverpool - and it's GREAT!


Leaving Liverpool:

Maximum stay is currently two weeks - we only stopped overnight as we had squeezed this into our already tight schedule as it was.  Basically, not long enough really and we would love to have spent more time there (and plan to return for at least a week next time).  As you'd expect, the outward journey is the reverse of the inward.  You'll be met at around 11.00hrs in Salthouse Dock, here's the timelapse video:


At the top of Stanley locks you have the option of mooring in Eldonian Basin again, but Day Two is a very early start so it's probably best to head back to, and moor at Litherland.

Another timelapse, from Stanley Top Lock to Litherland:


Day Two
- you need to meet the lockies at Bridge 6 at around 08.00 to 08.30 - so leave Litherland at about 07.15 just in case.  After Bridge 9 you're free to head back toward Wigan - that's it!

Our Analysis:

The good, and the not so good.  Firstly a couple of 'not so good'.  British Waterways will warn you in advance of the amount of debris in the canal.  You can see from the last timelapse that this is quite severe in places - so get to know your weedhatch!  Having said this, it's nothing we haven't encountered before over the years.  Next, well I'm really not sure if this needs to be a two day passage.  We're used to operating large, busy road swing bridges and also used to planning suitable moorings.  The issues regarding the pre-day-one mooring by Bridge 9 needs to be addressed.  So, are these observations resolvable?  I believe 'yes', and actually probably quite simply.  This part of the L&L hasn't been used very much prior to opening the LCL.  I personally reckon that with more use, and greater community involvement there will be less anti-social behaviour, and less dumping of rubbish into the canal.

I mentioned above a chat I was having with some of the local youths.  This inspired me to believe that given the right circumstances and support, they'll take greater interest in, and ownership of their local canal.  They were genuinely interested and I firmly believe that collectively, British Waterways - working with local communities and authorities can engage local communities and develop pride and self-governance.

So, the 'not so good' out of the way, what about the really good bits?

Booking - as mentioned above, an easy and pleasant experience (thanks again to Denise Bradshaw and the BW Wigan Office).

The 'Liverpool Lockies' - smashing bunch, helpful, friendly and demonstrating a wealth of local knowledge and commitment - obviously, with a refreshing sense of humour too!

The link itself - well thought out, well built, clearly marked navigation passage - a true delight.

Moorings - at the time we went there was no leccie or water on the pontoons.  This is probably all working fine by now.  Salthouse Dock is just great, the pontoons good, the view into Albert Dock just unique.  Thoroughly recommend the Museum and Tate Gallery too.

And my final comment:  FANTASTIC!

It's one of those 'things' that every boater needs to 'do', whether for the novelty, or to feel a part of our great maritime heritage.


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