Pies, piers, canals, cruises and art, part 1

I was to be Up North for a family wedding so I though I'd stay on a few days and book myself on my first cruise - down the Manchester Ship Canal from Salford Quays (now rebranded Media City) to Liverpool pier head, on a Mersey Ferry. When I told my sister about it, she booked my brother-in-law on the same trip, the Wednesday after the wedding.

Remains of Bury Odeon!

The journey Up North on Thursday 26 June was smooth as always, although the train I was meant to be on from Euston had been cancelled due to something at Watford. The next one, via Crewe (what was that steam loco outside the Heritage Centre?), got in in time for me to have a coffee and catch the bus to Bury, detoured around Victoria station.

Valerie's Snack Bar, Bury Market

Friday I had a wander round Bury, seeing the hole where the Odeon once stood, buying a Harrington jacket (£20 compared with the £30 I paid in Brighton) and waterproof flat cap on the market, taking photos of pies, having some black peas for lunch and finishing off at th'art gallery, where a text festival was going on. Had a coffee and cake in the little cafe upstairs, then explored the new sculpture gallery that has taken over half of the library.

Bury Sculpture Gallery

Saturday was the wedding and the splendid reception was in a country house called Haigh Hall (pronounced Hay Hall) near Wigan. We didn't see much of Wigan so I thought I'd return on Monday for a look around. On Sunday I used up one of my ELR member's free rides on a round trip, pulled by 80080. The only other steamer was W^D 132 Sapper pulling a lunch special.

80080 at Rawtenstall

On Monday I caught the bus to Bolton, thence another to Wigan, via Westhaughton (where the wedding was) which made several detours round housing estates and thought I'd search out the museum before my quest to discover Wigan pier. Wigan is quite hilly and after a stop at a Wetherspoons (The moon under water) to use their facilities, eventually found the museum, which had a very small display of George Formby memorabilia. What I didn't realise until back home was that there was a statue of George in a modern shopping centre that I'd walked past!

Wigan Pier

It was a bit of a schlep to the canal, via Trencherfield Mill, which has a giant steam engine open on Sundays, but I eventually found a sign pointing me in the right direction. Wigan Pier is basically a restored 'tippler', where coal was tipped onto the barges. Having taken some snaps I thought I'd pop over to The Orwell pub across the water, but it was shut. I got a bus back to Wigan, a pint in the Wetherspoons and a quick look round the market for the famous pie stall, to no avail. Well, it was a Monday! I got a different bus back to Bolton.

Heath and Safety, Bolton

Tuesday, I returned to Bolton, but by the scenic route. I popped into Bury to find out how the Metro was running for tomorrow. The staff at the travel shop at Bury Interchange were very unhelpful, pointing to a Metro person in hi-vis who told me to check the website in the morning. Today they were terminating at Crumpsall with a replacement bus to the city centre. The Rosso 480 bus I took to Bolton took me up Walshaw Road to Greenmount, Hawkshaw and Affetside with great views. After a walk round Bolton market, I popped into the art gallery to see Naughton and Moran's Paintings of the American West - one big painting by Thomas Moran (born in Bolton) and a few etchings and watercolours plus paintings inspired by them both big and small (I preferred the smaller ones) by James Naughton. No cafe at the art gallery so I popped across the road to the Octagon Theatre for a hearty soup and cappuccino. Very soon I was besieged by academics in their robes - they were installing a new chancellor or something.

To be continued...

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