Today’s walk was a local wander through some industrial history as I followed the Shropshire Union canal from Ellesmere Port to Chester. The walk is waymarked as a Canalside Trail, but once you’ve found the first waymarker – indicating 8 and a quarter miles to Chester – it’s just a case of keeping the canal on your right hand side until you reach the city.
Ellesmere Port is not the prettiest town on the Wirral Peninsula, due to its main industries of oil refining, chemicals, the motor works and the port itself, so I wasn’t surprised that the first mile of the walk was a little grotty. The canal passes under the M53 motorway twice, so there are some huge concrete bridges as well as the pretty brick ones.
These two photos were taken from the same spot.
The changing shape of the built environment, over time, is understandable and to be expected as we’ve moved our bulk transport away from the waterways and onto the roads. What I can’t understand is why there was so much rubbish in and along the canal? Is it really too much trouble for someone to take away the empty beer cans that they carried in full?
Once I’d walked beyond the reach of the litter-chucking town-dwellers, the canal was cleaner and the surroundings less industrial – although the M56 could be seen and heard in the distance.
I knew I was approaching Chester when I saw my first Roman.
I’ve always been impressed by canal locks. The combination of a very simple, well engineered idea and the power of thousands of gallons of water is quite amazing. I finished my canal walk at Northgate Lock which is a staircase of 3 locks with a rise of 33 feet (if Google is to be believed, but that sounds about right).