The Leeds Liverpool canal is 127 miles long and is the second longest waterway in the United
Kingdom. There are 91 locks to travel through. Officially completed in 1816 it took 46 years of
manual labour to complete. Join us on our Lancashire Canal Cruises narrowboat for a relaxing
cruise from Scarisbrick to Appley Bridge via Parbold.
It’s possible to travel coast-to-coast from Liverpool to Goole via Leeds and the Aire-Calder
Navigation – a journey of around 3 weeks. Today’s adventure is a four hour trip from where the
Lancashire diggers commenced their arduous task, through Burscough Wharf, calling at Top
Lock, Parbold and Appley Bridge.
Our 30’ narrowboat seats 12 passengers, is warm and comfortable and allows perfect visibility to
take in the countryside views and to spot wildlife such as Mallard ducks, coots, moorhens and
iridescent kingfishers flitting past at speed. The gentle journey takes us through the heritage site
of Burscough Wharf, home of stabling for the horses that used to pull the coal barges that made
the canal such a commercial success. Ancillary industries sprang up to support the trade –
blacksmiths, carpenters and rope weavers were kept busy tending the horses and the barges.
We call at Top Lock on the Rufford Branch which allows us a view of a beautiful sandstone bridge,
built in 1816 from locally quarried materials. The first of a series of locks plus picturesque white
cottages allow for some nice photographs plus amusing visits from moorhens in search of
crumbs. From here we travel through two swing bridges and a view of ‘stop planks’ alongside the
bridges. Used as emergency dams in case of breaches – another example of engineering
ingenuity of the Victorian times.
We saunter through Newborough and wide open views of the West Lancashire countryside and
hills. The approach to Parbold is narrow and is another good photography opportunity with lots of
moored boats adding to the fun. We moor at the historic village of Parbold – the home of a quarry
and a flour mill in Victorian times. Enjoy an ice cream from the quirky ‘Yours is the Earth’ artisan
coffee shop and call in to ‘The Mill House’ gallery. Housed on three floors of a Victorian windmill it
is the home of the very talented James Bartholomew’s work which includes local views.
The stretch from Parbold village to Apply Bridge is beautiful. Bluebell woods in Spring and a very
good chance of kingfishers as they prefer this quieter part of the canal. Stone bridges where you
can see the score marks of tow ropes that have marked the arches. Milestones that show
distances that hold a little known fact (all will be revealed!). In warmer weather we have the French
doors open and you can sit in the bow and enjoy the fresh air.
Apply Bridge is the home of Deep Lock. Number 91 it is 80’ deep and allows you to witness some
key parts of the clever and long lasting skills of the original engineers. If a boat is coming through
the lock they always appreciate help with ropes and gate opening and closing. There’s a nice
camaraderie amongst boaters as you never know when you might need help with a bridge or
catching a thrown rope. There is also a derelict lock that is worth a look and another photo
opportunity with the decaying winding gear and wooden gates.
The trip is available for a private charter with your own circle of family and friends or can be
booked for couples. We can provide a lovely afternoon tea accompanied by wine or soft drinks/
hot beverages. We also offer wine, craft beers or gin tasting as part of the experience.