Leeds-Liverpool canal, Bootle to Litherland, 1st March 2020

Yet another named storm – Storm Jorge – but the day was at least sunny even if it was cold and windy. We decided to walk northwards along the canal, with the wind and sun behind us. We would be quite close to the city centre, so our expectations of wildlife weren’t high. Near Bootle is the row of lovely Weeping Willows, that our leader John planted many years ago when he worked for Parks and Gardens. They were heavily pruned a couple of years ago, and still haven’t quite recovered. They need a couple more years yet.

There were nearly 20 Coots under the first bridge, and plenty more all along the canal. Not many Mallards, but single Moorhens on the verge every few yards. There are lots of Canada Geese resident here, too. This group of six were sunning themselves and were so comfortable they didn’t shift even when we walked quite close behind them.

A few flowers were out, including Herb Robert under a fence, occasional Daisies and Dandelions and some Gorse right on the edge of the water. There’s a little nameless park between the canal and Lunt Road, with House Sparrows in the shrubbery, Carrion Crows and Wood Pigeons in the taller trees, Black-headed Gulls on the tarmac and a Robin on the path. There were some Cherry Plum trees still blossoming and all the Goat Willows were bursting out with “pussy willow” flowers.

It was a lovely day, still, quiet and sunny along the sheltered towpath, and almost deserted. Just very occasional dog walkers and one pair of cyclists heading southwards. A nice surprise was a Heron, sitting motionless in the cut reeds on the opposite bank, standing on an old piece of metal plating.

Another unexpected bird was a Cormorant in the shadows under the bridge near Litherland.

We called in at the big Tesco in Litherland for their loos, and had lunch on their windy terrace which overlooks the canal. Then we headed past Litherland Town Hall (now a Health Centre) and into Hatton Hill Park. We haven’t been there before, and there’s not much to see, although a small Quince bush was flowering profusely.

Not far away, in Seaforth, is the old music venue, Lathom Hall, where the early Beatles played several times. Sadly, it closed a couple of years ago. Just by Hatton Hill Park is Black Dog salvage yard, and we spotted the old “hippie” sign that used to be a landmark outside Lathom Hall. It must be 7 or 8 feet tall. If anyone wants it ….

Public transport details: Bus 47 from Queen Square at 10.15, arriving Stanley Road / Bootle New Strand at 10.25. Returned on the 52 bus from Hawthorne Road / Marina Avenue at 1.25, arriving Bootle New Strand at 1.35, where we all changed for other buses.

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