Our first attempt to reach Liverpool by canal in 2014 failed due to a demolition contractor depositing a huge mound of loose rubble on a historic bridge in Stanley Dock, resulting in the closure of the Liverpool Link. We abandoned the idea until 2017 and then it still took us another 2 years to get the ideal trip. Even then we had to contend with a damaged bridge because somebody wrecked the control gear. With careful planning and CRT’s assistance, who opened the bridge manually twice a week on set days, we were finally able to stay for our full quota of days in Salthouse Dock in 2019, in the very centre of the World Heritage Site.
I should mention that in the previous 2 years we had to delay one year’s trip for several months until early summer due to a bridge being rebuilt on the Bridgewater Canal (not owned by CRT), thus effectively closing Liverpool from the rest of the canal network to the south. When we did reach Liverpool in 2017, the electric hook-up on our boat did not work so the engine had to be run daily to charge the batteries. The next year, there was a canal breach at Waddicar near Aintree and the Liverpool Link was closed again for most of the summer. Of course, there is always the risk of low water levels at Poolstock Locks in Wigan to contend with as well.
In 2018, we found Star Narrowboats at the Bridgewater Marina run by Hester Cox, a very helpful lady who supplied us with a fantastic boat called ‘Gloria’, and the necessary hook-up cable for power and a long hose for water. Hire-boat companies generally only issue short water-hoses and do not trust you with a hook-up cable, both essential for Liverpool.
Photo below: ‘Gloria’ moored in Salthouse Dock, Liverpool.
Star Narrowboat Holidays is ideally situated for a 2-week round trip to Liverpool being some 3 days away from Liverpool, leaving 6 whole days to explore the great city. We are proud to say that June 2019 was Star Narrowboat’s first trip to Liverpool.
As for the trip itself, careful planning is needed to reach particular places at the correct time. Currently, these are Hancock’s swing bridge near Aintree which can only be opened during a limited time period and the flight of four Stanley Locks, where the cheerful CRT staff and volunteers help you down into the dock area.
Photo below: Stanley Locks, ‘Gloria’ on the right.
Favourite overnight mooring places on the way to Liverpool are Pennington Flash, Parbold bridge, Appley deep lock (old upper lock cut) and Crooke village, just far enough from Wigan to be countrified. An essential stop is Litherland, a CRT service area near Bootle, within a locked compound adjacent to a useful Tesco superstore for supplies and excellent breakfasts. You do need to make use of the pump out or Elsan facilities there, as there are no such facilities in Salthouse Dock.
Photo below: 'Gloria' at Parbold Bridge.
The moorings in Salthouse Dock are within a gated area with free electric and water points; bookings need to be made ahead through CRT who allocate the pontoons. It is a vibrant and exciting city with many places to eat and shop, especially around the adjacent Albert Dock area and the nearby multi-tiered Liverpool One shopping centre with its raised green park.
Interesting places to visit in Liverpool are the Anglican Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Cathedral (Paddy’s Wigwam), the Maritime Museum and the Museum of Liverpool. The open top bus tours are very good and start from the south end of Salthouse Dock. The ferry trip across the Mersey is also a must. There are lots of places associated with the Beatles and many statues of important Liverpudlians dotted around. The ‘Three Graces’, including the iconic Liver Building, are a fantastic sight viewed either on foot or from the canal link itself which threads its way under the Pier Head area via several dark tunnels.
Photo below: Leaving Liverpool through Albert Dock.
All in all, there is so much to see and do, it would take a much longer article to describe everything of interest, so why not come and find out for yourself!
(This article was originaly published in Towpath Talk in 2019. Colin and Pauline completed the Liverpool trip in a comfortable 17 night hire. For information about the Liverpool Canal Link please see here.)