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A detailoed description of our boats, Oak and Ash.    
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on the Canals and Rivers of the UK

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Our guide to the waterways of the UK in detail.

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

N.B. This canal forms one of the links across the Pennies running from Liverpool over the central spine of Northern England to Leeds, with a branch off to Leigh to connect to the Bridgewater canal. However the route over the Pennies from Wigan East was built for the shorter Mersey flats and as such our boats are unfortunately unable to cruise it. So these pages only provide information on the Western section from Leigh over to Liverpool.

The seven mile long Leigh branch of the canal makes an end on connect with the Leigh branch of the Bridgewater canal. Leigh is a typical mill small mill town. To the west were a number of collieries now closed. The removal of the waste tips and subsidence of the land has created elevated sections of lock free canal through parkland and lakes.

At the west end the canal climbs up to the junction with the main line in Wigan through two locks. Here the main line of the Leeds and Liverpool canal climbs up a long flight of locks to the East through the heart of Wigan, however these locks, like the rest of the main line of the canal are only sixty foot long.

Wigan itself is a sprawling town with the canal passing for just over two miles along one side with four broad locks, all the locks from Wigan to Liverpool are seventy foot long to accommodate boats off the midlands canal system. In the centre of Wigan is the celebrated Wigan Pier it was just a coal loading pier part of a complex of warehouses and the other canal facilities of a busy canal town. The area however now houses a historical experience!

After Wigan the canal has twenty miles of very pleasant rural scenery interspersed with villages. There are three locks in the Eastern two miles. It is all then level. There are however ten swing bridges well spread out through this section. We pass Rufford junction where a branch leads down to the river Ribble and ultimately the Lancaster canal. Alas this too has only sixty foot locks.

The last twelve miles take the canal right into the heart of Liverpool. At first suburban, passing alongside the Aintree race course, home of the Grand National at one point. The last four miles are inner city canal. In 2007 a BW escort team was provided to ensure safety as well as to operate the swing bridges for you for the whole twelve miles. However also in 2007 substantial funding was announced to improve the environment and safety of the last few miles to encourage boaters to use them. In 2007 without these improvements, but with the BW escort we found no problem in cruising this area.

In 2007 the terminus was at Eldon village, which made a peasant and safe mooring although a couple of miles out of the city centre.. However work was well underway on creating a link through the docks to enable boats in future to continue right into the centre of Liverpool mooring in the Albert Dock which is Liverpool's number one visitor attraction, showcasing the best of Liverpool in a stunning World Heritage waterfront setting. We hope to be able to use this in 2009. For up to date photos of the work on the link see Towpath pictures.


Some pictures of this canal?

Pictures Leigh to Wigan / Pictures Wigan to Liverpool.


More information from Reed Boats about this canal.

A history of this canal.


Find our information about other canals on the canal index page.


Unfortunately we will not be on this canal in 2012 during our cruises.

However we are cruising on other canals and rivers in 2012, details of these cruises can be found at

routes for 2012.



If you have any questions then do ring us on 07977 229103
or email us at

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