North-west link shut until June
A DELAYED STOPPAGE on the Bridgewater Canal will cut off Lancaster and the west end of the Leeds & Liverpool until June – unless boaters either cross the Pennines twice or make an adventurous tidal passage.
The stoppage is to enable Vicar’s Hall Bridge to be rebuilt to heavy goods vehicle standards in connection with a housing development by the canal’s owners Peel Holdings. Originally planned for 31 October 2016 to 24 February 2017, delays have led to it being postponed to run from 13 February to 16 June.
Situated west of Worsley on the canal’s Leigh Branch, the bridge’s closure cuts off the link from the Bridgewater to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal (and thus to the Liverpool Link (pictured), Ribble Link and Lancaster Canal). The only ways around the stoppage are:
Via the Leeds & Liverpool Canal across the Pennines from Leeds, which is limited to a 62ft boat length and will mean a long detour.
By crossing the Mersey estuary from the Manchester Ship Canal at Eastham Locks, involving a tidal crossing that some inland craft may be unsuited to.
The Inland Waterways Association has written to Peel, urging Peel to consider construction methods which could shorten the stoppage, or failing that to postpone it until next winter.