Day 40: 02 May 2014; Culcheth to Standish
|Fri 02 May 2014
|Start to end time
|Route miles left
|Route ft left
|Cool and dry but bright with sunny intervals. Light Easterly wind. About 15C
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
|GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)
“Today was a brilliant day. Apart from the fact that it was very short and relatively flat, today I hit Wigan. As well as being the home of Northern Soul (you’ll have to look that up), an old munitions dump just to the north west of the town is also the birthplace of Heinz Baked Beans (thanks Pete for pointing this important fact out). So it has numerous claims to fame.
But of greater interest to me was that today the walk crossed an important milestone. From now on there are fewer miles left to walk than I have already covered so, yes – I AM HALFWAY THERE! To make the day even more enjoyable, the sun shone brightly most of the time, and one of my friends came down from Lancaster to join me for part of the walk, so I had company.
I didn’t have particularly high expectations of the walk today, other than the achievement of the halfway point, but I was really pleasantly surprised by the day. After crossing a few fields from my campsite, I soon reached the Wigan branch of the Leeds and Liverpool canal. It made for extremely pleasant walking in the bright sunshine. The canal itself was busy and full of leisure traffic, and there were lots of interesting things to look at along the way. Curiously, the canal in many places is raised up above the surrounding landscape, and frequently the lower land has filled with water called “flashes”. These were caused when the subsurface collapsed following coal mining at depth under them. So at some points along the way you had the curious sensation of walking on a ribbon of land, surrounded by water on all sides.
Wigan, too, was a pleasant surprise. The approach via the canal was scenic and the town itself fitted midway between Chester and Warrington on the Bakewell-tart scale. Bustling with life and a really interesting streetscape with sculptures and lively shops.
I decided that Wigan Pier, as the iconic landmark, would be a suitable halfway point so I headed down the canal to the lagoon where the Pier is located. I’m still not actually sure what Wigan Pier is, other than a landmark made famous by George Orwell’s book – but I think historically it was a loading wharf for canal barges and now it’s a nightclub.
Tonight to celebrate achievement of this landmark, I am having a night in a hotel near Standish (right next door to the old munitions factory, I suspect!) but then a long day tomorrow to a v. basic campsite which has a tap. And that’s all. So making the most of tonight’s luxury!”