Lydiate – Our canal towpath

I don’t cycle the towpath of Leeds Liverpool Canal through Sefton and West Lancashire often for two reasons. It’s narrow and rough to ride on and the narrowness means I need to stop frequently to let pedestrians pass. However, the other day I decided to cycle the section from Greens Lane swing bridge in Downholland through to Bells Lane swing bridge in Lydiate.

The ride was pretty much as I expected i.e. only really suitable for mountain bikes due to its rough and uneven nature. I would add that as the weather had been dry for quite some time I didn’t encounter any of the usual boggy areas that can, during winter months, make the towpath all but impassable in places north of Lydiate Hill Bridge/Billy’s Bridge.

Joining at Greens Lane the swing bridge was just closing as I got to it from the Aughton direction:_

Greens Lane swing bridge

You arrive in Lydiate on the towpath when you cross Sudell Brook (it forms the Lancashire/Merseyside & Lydiate/Downholland boundary) which flows under the canal just north of Jackson’s Bridge where Pygons Hill Ln/Hall Ln cross the canal. This is the view from atop Jackson’s Bridge looking northwards towards the Lancashire boundary. This section of the towpath is reasonable, in dry weather:-

Looking north from Jackson’s Bridge

The towpath southwards from Jackson’s Bridge, past Lollies Bridge, Pilling Lane Bridge, and through to Bells Lane swing bridge is variable but mainly poor especially if the weather has been wet.

This is where the ong-term collapse of the towpath into the canal has been diverted past – Between Billy’s Bridge and Lollies Bridge.

The repairs required to the collapsed section of towpath were, when I last asked the Canal & River Trust, due to take place during the 2021/2022 financial year i.e. any time soon but I don’t have an update on those works.

One of the problems with the same section of towpath between these two bridges is that the land abutting the towpath is higher and there’s a continual run-off of groundwater across it. This photo illustrates the problem but after weeks of virtually no rain. It’s not hard to imagine how the situation deteriorates after heavy rain or through the winter:-

Finally a nice view of Pilling Lane bridge with a narrowboat traveling towards the camera:-

The Maghull/Lydiate boundary is roughly halfway between the Bells Lane swing bridge and the Green Lane swing bridge. It is this section of towpath that is down to be resurfaced with the Canal & River Trust gaining the money to do it via the new Rose Hill Gardens housing development at the end of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road. The new houses are all in Lydiate, not Maghull. I still have no news as to whether the Canal & River Trust is prepared to use some of this money to address worse sections of the towpath through Lydiate.

Gerard Manley Hopkins – the Lydiate Connections

Readers of this posting who know me well will recall that I’m an atheist so may consider my reviewing a book about such a deeply religious man and his poetry a little incongruous and I suppose it is but here goes anyway.

I came across this book via Sheila, my wife, who asked me to order it for her as a Christmas present in 2020. What drew me to find out about the book and Manley Hopkins is the simple fact that I regularly cycle past Rose Hill House in Lydiate’s Pygons Hill Lane and I’d recognised the painting of the house on the book’s front cover. Here’s a present day photo of the scene:-

Rose Hill is a Grade II Listed Building I might add; here’s a link to British Listed Buildings:-

Firstly, who was Gerard Manley Hopkins? This link to the Poetry Foundation helps set the scene:-

The book talks about Manley Hopkins’ early life and influences and his conversion from Anglican to RC religion – which clearly caused some short-term family troubles. It then charts his arrival in Liverpool in January 1880 and his visits to Rose Hill House to celebrate Sunday Mass. It seems to have been a weekly event for a Jesuit from St. Francis Xavier’s Church in Salisbury Street Liverpool to ‘take the train to Lydiate*, sleep overnight, then celebrate Mass in the “chapel” at Rose Hill House’, a direct quote from the book. The celebrated poem ‘Spring and Fall’ was penned by Manley Hopkins at Rose Hill House in September 1880.

Well, I’ve certainly learned some things I did not previously know about with regard to my adopted home community of Lydiate and it’s via books such as this that such gaps are filled in and our local history better understood. It’s well worth a read if you have an interest in Lydiate, poetry, the RC church etc.

Sales of the book will I understand support Hospice Africa – I’ve noticed that it’s presently available (Feb 2021) via Abe Books price £6.89.

* It seems the Jesuit travellers would either have used Maghull Station or Town Green Station (both opened in 1849) on the present-day Liverpool – Ormskirk line or Lydiate’s own Station on the Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway although that line and station did not open until 1884.

Notes:- Tony Robertson (the editor of this blog site) is a former leader of Sefton Council and a present-day member of Lydiate Parish Council

And finally here’s a link to another Gerard Manley Hopkins location, within and at the end of a much longer video about North Wales:-

Lydiate & Great Altcar – Stenciled slogans on country lanes?

If you’ve walked, cycled or driven along lanes such as Pygons Hill Lane in Lydiate or Acres Lane in Great Altcar you may have, like me, noticed these slogans and wondered what they mean. They are not all the same but this one is in Pygons Hill Lane:-

Is this one of those situations where most folk out there know exactly what this means and I’m just in the dark?

And here’s another one in Longdale Lane, Lunt:-

When asked Sefton Council Highways Dept. had no idea.

Lydiate – Beware of Hall Lane – Mud on road

There’s a lot of mud on this lane just after the junction with Eagar Lane going towards Jackson’s Bridge. Presently and for the past few days it has been thick and sloppy mud due to rainfall but if it freezes it will become treacherous – brown rather than black ice.

Guess it’s caused by the movement of large agricultural machinery coupled with heavy rain but watch out as many of our local lanes have mud on them and either rain or freezing conditions can turn them into ice rinks.

Maghull/ Lydiate – last night’s rain storms

That was some heavy rain we had last night and cycling around Maghull and Lydiate this morning I ran into the consequences of it. The first shot is of Millbank Lane, the unadopted road/public right of way that runs from the junction of Dodds Ln/Kenyons Ln/Park Ln to the boundary with Aughton. The surface has been breaking up in the latter 3rd of it for some time now (my previous posting refers – linked below) but today it was impassable for cyclists and pedestrians. I had to turn back and find an alternative route into Aughton.

The second shot is of Pygons Hill Lane near to Jackson’s Bridge. Not too clear in this shot but it was running like a stream down the hill towards the canal bridge.

I noticed yesterday afternoon before the really heavy rain how high the River Alt was, where Bridges Ln crosses it between Maghull and Sefton Village. Reminds us all of how vulnerable to flooding we are when major rain storms hit low lying Sefton.