So, along with some other members of Snowdonia Canoe Club, I decided to swap our sea kayaks and the scenic Anglesey coastline for the industrial heritage of Manchester for the weekend. We stayed at Castlerose and spent two days exploring the Bridgewater Canal.
Saturday morning brought daylight and an eventual consensus on which way we needed to go ... left!! Expecting to see lots of evidence of the industrial heritage associated with the canal, we did see some of the original wharfs but also discovered modern flats rather than industrial units.
The most striking contrast with home was the plethora of graffiti. The experience of exploring the canal was akin to visiting an open air art gallery. It was interesting to see many themes and ideas being repeated and adapted in different colours at key points along our journey.
We saw some of the famous Manchester landmarks ... guess where this is ...
As we returned Saturday afternoon we saw the throngs of people arriving for the game. So the canal was built to transport goods, but goods are now transported along busy roads that cross the canal. People travel mainly by road to cross the canal to go to the game. Whilst a small minority have a 'trip' along the canal on restaurant boats to the hotel by the stadium.
The towpath is now popular with dog walkers and joggers but the canal itself is little used - well in January anyway! So the canal, a massive feat of engineering linked to the industrial revolution is now more of a water feature backdrop for recreational activities.
On Sunday we moored by the Trafford Centre .... were we tempted to go shopping .... ah ha .. I will leave you to ponder that one.
Near each of the roads that crossed the canal the amount of litter, particularly single-use plastic, increased dramatically. I presume people in their cars throw their rubbish out of the window and think no more about it. We did see one lady collecting aluminium cans. However, apart from that, it seems people just leave it to become the archaeology of the future or perhaps make it's way to the sea.
So the illegal graffiti can in some way add to the recreational enjoyment of the canal but does the illegal litter? .... Well I suppose we did have a giggle when Mary clambered out of her canoe and sat on the armchair that was floating in the water!
We crossed the Manchester Ship Canal on the aqueduct at Barton upon Irwell. No towpath along side us here so an unique opportunity to enjoy the view and investigate the engineering. The picture shows the wall which was lifted into place when the aqueduct was swivelled out of the way of the tall ships. I wonder when that last happened ... and was it before or after the graffiti was added?