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.

Lydiate – Reclaying a canal aqueduct

A few days ago a Canal and River Trust dumb barge with an excavator on it was being pushed northwards through Lydiate and it passed the end of our Lydiate garden.

A brief chat with the chap in charge of the movement led me to understand that work was going to commence just north of Jackson’s Bridge (where Hall Lane/Pygons Hill Lane cross over the LLC) on reclaying the canal over the small aqueduct that takes the Leeds Liverpool Canal over what I think is still called Sudell Brook at that point.

The brook is also the Lydiate/Merseyside boundary with Downholland/West Lancashire and I’m guessing that the canal has been leaking into the brook below it hence the need to reclay the canal. The photo below shows the dumb barge with the excavator in it on Saturday 14th April over the position of the small aqueduct.

Maghull – Returning to the condition of Millbank Lane

I have posted previously about the state of the road surface in Millbank Lane. My last relevant posting is available via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/11/23/maghull-lydiate-last-nights-rain-storms/

Without rehearsing too much the history of this lane and how land owners have some significant responsibility for the maintenance of the road surface the situation seems to be like this. Because the lane is a public right of way Sefton Council does have some responsibility for the surface to be in reasonable condition for pedestrians. The responsibility for the lane being suitable for vehicles is definitely with the land owners of this unadopted road.

What has now happened is that Sefton Council has taken some action to try to repair the worst of the potholes where they affect pedestrian access. I understand that at the same time the relevant land owners have been reminded that it is their responsibility to provide a surface suitable for vehicles.

Sadly the stones that Sefton have put into the ruts seem to have been churned out by vehicles or at least that’s what I’m guessing has happened. The photo’s below were taken on 28th January:-

And the next photo is interesting! You can hardly read it as it’s buried in a hawthorn hedge just inside the Maghull/Sefton Borough boundary as you cross over Sudell Brook into the Town from Aughton/West Lancs. It says ‘Lancashire County Council – Private Road – Public Footpath Only’

The sign must therefore predate local government reorganisation in 1974 as it is in Sefton not Lancashire. The things you find when out and about.

Great divides? Community boundaries – Mean a lot, mean a little?

I have often pondered on boundaries especially those associated with local government. What forms a boundary, why was it chosen and who chose it?

Here are two boundaries close to my Lydiate home. One is with Maghull and the other with Aughton:-

Maghull Brook - On the left Lydiate (and me) - on the right Maghull.

Maghull Brook – On the left Lydiate (and me) – on the right Maghull.

Sudell Brook - On the left Lydiate - on the right Aughton

Sudell Brook – On the left Lydiate – on the right Aughton

In both cases the boundary is obviously a stream and this can often be the case with local government boundaries where watercourses have been chosen to divide communities up.

The boundary between Maghull and Lydiate simply divides the two Civil Parishes of Lydiate and Maghull and the only real obvious difference this creates is the amount of Council tax or Precept that the residents of these two communities pay to either Lydiate Parish Council or Maghull Town Council. Both Civil Parishes are in Sefton Borough and both are a part of the Liverpool City Region/Merseyside.

The Lydiate – Aughton boundary is of far greater significance though as it is all but an invisible barrier rather than a boundary because Aughton Civil Parish is in West Lancashire Borough and the County of Lancashire. The world does not look any different on either side of Sudell Brook but in fact it is as the Sefton Borough – West Lancashire boundary has, since 1974, become a local government barrier. Why you can almost hear senior council officers saying ‘we are a Metropolitan Borough [Sefton] and they are just a County’ and of course the reverse will apply too. Sadly, whilst I may well be exaggerating here the reality is that since 1974, in local government terms, Sefton’s communities and those in West Lancashire have mainly planned for their futures in glorious isolation – a great divide indeed.

Considering the massive boundary between West Lancashire and Sefton you would think there would be a huge amount of cross-border co-operation and planning for the joint communities. You would think so but I assure you there is not.

I recall during my time as Leader of Sefton Council I went to Ormskirk to meet the Leader of West Lancs Council to try to kick-start closer working relationships but it seems that those who followed us have not developed things further. What sense does separate transport planning in the two Boroughs make? Environmental protection issues must be similar surely? Health issues surely do not stop at a stream do they? Why we even have an NHS Hospital Trust on split between Southport and Ormskirk either side of the great divide.

I recall when Sefton and West Councils were planning for building on the Green Belt and on the highest grade of agricultural land in England that I started to ask questions about how closely the two two planning departments were sharing and consulting each other. The answers I got were hardly an example of close cooperation in my eyes and I wondered if the contact was little more that phone calls with one side saying ‘we are doing X’, ‘well we are doing y’, ‘OK speak again next year maybe’.

The bottom line is that Merseyside and Lancashire are very different worlds in local government terms. Is this something that is hammered into local government officers from an early age akin to religious indoctrination? Whatever the case it is very much to the disadvantage of communities which are near to a significant local government boundary in my view.

Aughton/Lydiate – Lancashire/Sefton

A countryside walk down Sudell Lane recently brought this interesting boundary marker into view:-

an-unusual-aughton-lydiate-or-lancs-sefton-boundray-marker

Click on the photo to enlarge it

It was by the side of Sudell Brook which forms the boundary between the Civil Parishes of Aughton and Lydiate and of course the County of Lancashire and Metropolitan Borough of Sefton in Merseyside.

It seems to be of reasonably modern design to me, so I wonder who had it made? Aughton Parish Council? Whomever did it I think its a nice touch and baring vehicle accidents it should be there for generations.

The photo is also amongst my Flickr photos at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/