The 60% chance of rain looked remote as we woke to a lovely sunny morning albeit still very windy. We moved onto Bridge Nine in plenty of time and whilst we waited for the BW guys to arrive, another Mini Schnauzer and owner walked passed. This little fella was called Milo and was only nine months old, both dogs instantly recognised each other as being distantly related and a man hug ensued, but in the photo it looks like Brian is the puppet master.
There were four boats in total waiting to be escorted into Liverpool and the skippers were given a briefing by the two friendly BW chaps, but we had re-read the skippers notes and studied the map of the docks last night and felt confident about what lay ahead. BW would operate the two swing bridges and we should try to keep together to minimise the delay to traffic, the second one should be reached in about forty minutes. We would then be on our own until we reached Stanley Locks which would take at least another two hours. A stop at Litherland Services, just before Bootle was expected, for pumpout, rubbish etc. and a quick nip into the large Tesco’s if required.
Again there was nothing spectacular about this part of the trip except the amount of rubbish in the canal, but fortunately it didn’t find our propeller attractive. However the 1861 Leigh Bridge just before the locks was very smart in its black and white livery. The weather forecast proved itself correct and gradually the cloud increased and by the time we turned towards the Stanley Locks the rain descended.
BW did all of the work dropping us down forty four feet and we emerged from the locks into Stanley Docks, surrounded by a derelict tobacco warehouse on the left and an unspecified but equally derelict warehouse on the right. Straight ahead was a bascule bridge the other side of which was the Victoria Clock Tower, sadly all its four faces told a different time.
Our route was clearly marked by strings of orange buoys and they lead us into a cutting through several filled in docks and then into a newly constructed lock, again BW were on hand to operate the lock and immediately we entered the first of three tunnels, emerging briefly for views of the Three Graces, The Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building. Another lock and we were in Canning Dock passing several dry docks before entering the famous Albert Dock and passing into our home for the next few days, Salthouse Dock.
Our allocated berth was Pontoon S8 tucked into the corner and sheltered from the wind. We were soon plugged into the shore power and the pumpout boat was quickly alongside, following our phone call to Liverpool Marina and the charge was still only £10. If we had asked for diesel, the operator would have ensured that he had some on board and at 78p a litre, it would have made sense to have filled our tank. Sadly my camera battery also ran flat, so some of the pictures shown were taken on our return journey.
A quick wash and brush up and we were out for a preliminary reconnoitre of what Albert Dock had to offer. The weather was decidedly stormy, but we managed to escape the worst of the rain. It was a difficult deciding which restaurant that we would grace with our presence later, but Miller & Carter was eventually selected and didn’t disappoint.