|Approaching the Rufford Branch Junction, near Burscough|
At Burscough I had a coffee at the wharf before I began the walk. At the beginning of the walk I met some friendly boaters and walkers - one of the walkers told me about a cake sale at the Ship Inn in Lathom, near the Rufford Branch junction. All the proceeds went to Comic Relief and when I reached Lathom I popped in the pub and bought some fruit cake, delicious I must say!
|Looking down the Rufford Branch, Leeds and Liverpool Canal|
|Comic Relief cake sale at the Ship Inn|
|Burscough through the bridge and locks!|
|Rufford Old Hall|
|'Lancashire' tea at Rufford Old Hall|
|View of the canal between Bridges 7 and 8|
|Such a beautiful stretch on the canal|
Beyond Bridge 10, at Sollom, the canal becomes more of a river with its twists and turns. This part of the canal is known as the 'Old Course of the River Douglas'. The fields act as the tow path and I wouldn't want to walk on that stretch on a rainy day! It has a wild feel to it and there is this sense of being in the middle of nowhere with its rural surroundings. I reached 'civilisation' at Bridge 11 and was greeted with a 'Welcome to West Lancashire' sign. I rejoined the somewhat muddy towpath at the bridge - the path underneath was flooded. The canal and the River Douglas run side by side.
|View from Bridge 10.|
|Approaching Bridge 11|
|Back to 'Civilisation'|
I reached the final bridge in Tarleton and I was wondering where Tarleton Locks were. I entered via Tarleton Boatyard despite its number of unwelcoming signs advising visitors of no 'unauthorised access'. I wasn't sure if I was allowed to walk through to reach the final locks but in the ended I walked through undeterred, subconsciously telling myself that the canal and its tow path (access to it) should be considered a public right of way, and got to the final locks. I saw where the both the canal and river meets...the course eventually links to the Ribble and eventually the Lancaster Canal.
|Continues is the River Douglas|
|Where the canal meets the River Douglas|
I had a well deserved comfort stop by the locks before I made my way to the village for a bus back to Burscough. Luckily I only waited a few minutes for a bus (the service is hourly and bus services in rural Lancashire aren't the best in the world with regards to frequency) and it was a short bus ride to Burscough Bridge Interchange. Popped into The Bridge pub for a drink before catching my nightmare return journey to Leeds - a classic Northern fail with inconveniently planned engineering works!
A beautiful sunny day for a beautiful walk. Just 24 miles or so to go to Liverpool and there is the Springs Branch in Skipton to do as well!