Leeds 2 Liverpool Walk by Bernie Temmen
Well it’s now just over 3 weeks since on the 20th June 2016 that the Denbury Boys group finished the traverse of the Leeds-2-Liverpool canal walk on a wonderful sunny afternoon at the Albert Docks on the waterfront in Liverpool.
Frank Herod,Bob Wathen,Tony Hargreaves,George McIntosh and myself RV’d at the Premier Inn near Keighley on the 13th June and this turned out to be a mini Denbury reunion with Ralph Porter arriving from Reith for the night,Bill Dalglish popping down from Scunthorpe(I think) and Martine Holman over from Leeds. A few tales were told and beers sunk !!!
Next morning,start day,it was pixxing down,but by the time George landed the 4 walkers at the start of the canal where it enters the River Aire the sun was out and our journey of discovery of this famous canal was beginning. In the direction we were walking each bridge we passed under or over was numbered in descending order so it was “check them off lads” each day. The area around the start of the canal in Leeds is very “posh” but a mile or so out from the centre is a different story. This was the theme on the whole journey of a contrast between dereliction from the industrial revolution and modernisation in some of the larger towns. Most of our journey we were passing through open countryside with rolling landscapes,woodland areas and oh so quiet places you could hear a pin drop.
At the end of day one we stayed in the same Inn and were again visited by Martin and his daughter,Frankie plus Pete Haddock came over from Shipley for the evening. Day 2 started and so our journey continued over the next 7 days. Some of the highlights of the trip were places like, Bingley 5 Rise Staircase Locks – a master piece of building work.
Skipton Junction – certainly a tourist trap.
Greenberfield Top Lock – here at the Top Lock Café we had our morning break with bacon on home made buns.Also in attendance was Chris Riley ex R/Sigs and member of our RSA Branch who lives on a canal boat nearby and is a volunteer lock keeper on 3 Greenberfield’s flight of locks with the canals and rivers trust. He gave us a detailed rundown on the history of the canal in that area.
Barrowford Locks – here 2 of the 7 locks had been drained for repair so we could observe the construction of the locks and there were no supermarket trolleys or bikes lying in the mud!
Botany Bay Mill Cafe(by Chorley) – here next to the canal we were treated to the famous “Chorley Cakes” for morning tiffin.
Wigan Pier – it’s not what the lads were expecting. For those who have visited it will know it’s only a bump in the side of the canal towpath where a rail truck would tip it’s contents into a canal boat.Wigan hype for the tourists.
Burscough Bridge – we were very lucky here in that there was a canal boat festival taking place and the canal side was full of old barges with Morris Dancers and brass bands performing in the boat depot.
Stanley Dock Cut – from here the last 1 mile walk into the waterfront passing new and old structures.
Talking to people along the route from boat owners informing us of costs for keeping boats on the canal,thoughts of boat owners of how the canals and rivers trust are treating them since they took over from British Waterways. The land owner next to the canal who constructed a Saxon round house in his field but can’t afford £35,000 now to fit a thatch roof so is now hiring it out for weddings if it’s not raining.A farmer who had to plough under over 1 million lettuces because they were to small for the supermarket(maybe another EU rule ?)who would not purchase them.It was cheaper than harvesting them and giving them away.A canal boat just before Wigan top lock that was kitted out for selling old fashioned sweets.There were jars and jars of them lined up in 4 rows high along the whole length of the boats outside wall.Frank purchased us all a cup of tea off it.A pub(The Farmers Arms) that had a pillbox built into a gable end upstairs room during WW2 which can be plainly seen from the towpath.
I could go on and on but this gives you all a flavour of our 7 days together.We only got rained on the last 2 hours of the 6th day which is excellent for this time of year.At the end in the Albert Docks we all had our obligatory ice cream to celebrate endex.By now all our injury’s will have healed and body fatigue passed as we look forward to our next adventure next year. Hadrian’s Wall or the Grand Caledonian Canal in Scotland were mentioned as we supped our drink on the last night,so watch this space early next year.
Thank you to George for being our Sherpa and transporting us around the locations.We four are very grateful.To Frank,Bob and Tony I hope you enjoyed your time on the journey and as I did,learned so much about the Leed-liverpool canal which I never knew.
Best regards to all,
Kohima 63-65(off & on)