We have decided to journey along the full length of the Rufford Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in case there is any chance of a late cancellation by other craft to undertake the tidal Ribble Link onto the Lancaster Canal.
To do this was our original plan but when we tried to book at Wigan all the dates suitable for our calendar had been taken. There were one or two early convoys we could have joined but then we wouldn’t have been able to return till September, which was far too late for us.
This is a difficult system with which to live since one has to book securely months in advance in order to obtain the spot one requires and all boaters know how difficult this is to predict with any more accuracy than a week either way at that distance in time. So Janis and I are happy to take pot luck and adjust our journey plans if necessary when we arrive at the end of the branch at Tarleton Lock. Always we have the beautiful Pennines to do instead.
Janis with ‘Roots and Wings’ exit-ing Chicken Lock
We left the Leeds and Liverpool proper at Burscough Junction and immediately, after such a long time without, were headily and most unfamiliarly beset by six large locks in close proximity, whose sluices were operated either with strange wooden levers or horizontal winding gear and as usual by the time we became almost used to the new idea we had finished with the locks.
However we’ve been tied up for a few days now close to Rufford Lock, separated from the previous ones by about two miles and near a small village of the same name. Nearby is the National Trust Tudor property called Rufford Old Hall, built and, up until fairly recently, owned by the Hesketh Family of Formula I Grand Prix racing fame in the Seventies.
Rufford Old Hall and formal gardens
Inside Great Hall showing moveable screen
The day was fine so Janis and I spent the whole of Tuesday visiting the Hall and gardens, both of which were in fine condition and well looked after. Part of the former over the years had been demolished leaving just the medieval Great Hall intact. However the Victorian family added a wing leaving the fine property as it is today. The gardens of course at this time of the year are beginning to look at their best with all the flowers and shrubs coming into their own. In keeping with the rest of the nearby area there are masses of Bluebells in bloom in the wooded area.
Seed pod of the Dandelion
Carpets of Bluebells
Yesterday the weather was not quite as good, as it rained lightly for a lot of the day. We found a bus stop and caught a bus for nearby Southport. It was good to experience this Bournemouth of the north, designed and built during the Nineteenth Century as a holiday resort for the moneyed middle classes of mine and mill owners so they wouldn’t have to mix on the firms annual shutdown with their workers who all went by tradition to Blackpool instead. It was another good day out in spite of the weather and we enjoyed it.