Arriving at Burnley: Walking to Leeds Section 9

Resuming our complete walk of the Leeds Liverpool Canal, by the end of this walk we’ll be very conscious that we are now walking through the heartland of the industrial history of the north of England. Burnley, as you’ll see from this post and the next one, is a fantastic place that is a privilege to walk through

These walks also mark the end of our doing each canal section as a separate day trip. We’re now too far from home for that, so have booked ourselves a long weekend away in Barnoldswick. A place so far into East Lancashire that it feels just like Yorkshire.

Barnoldswick, quietly lovely.

A friendly pub that we go to and a café that we don’t call their place ‘Barlick.’ so maybe all the locals do? We wouldn’t presume to know.

Naturally on our evening of arrival we stroll down to see that we think of as ‘our’ canal. It’s yours too of course.

We’re not expecting to reach Barnoldswick itself on this weekend’s visit, but definitely will next time we come to stay.

Still we couldn’t resist a look. ‘Silentnight’ one of two major factories here.
Well done on the canal-side living here!
And here?
A corporate litter bin.
And maybe we’ll be back for some of those?

Anyway, after a peaceful night’s sleep in the lovely terraced house we’d booked we’re ready for the day’s adventure.

Beginning our journey back to where we left off.

As you can see, I’m sat at the bus stop in full wet gear, including serious walking boots you can’t see. We’ve woken to the sounds of a torrential downpour and both phones have sternly told us the same weather news. That this will be a seriously wet day where the heavy rain is unlikely to let up for the whole of it.

On the bus to Burnley we gaze anxiously up at the sky.

Which gradually clears. Both weather forecasts already wrong! Our bags begin to fill with performance gear being removed.

Now, as you’ll know if you’ve read other posts on this adventure, the Leeds Liverpool Canal wriggles round all over the place. For reasons of geography, geology and politics it’s construction avoided places you’d think would be on it and snuggled it right up close to places you might not have otherwise heard of. Therefore, pathfinding our way back to where we last left off is rarely straightforward and today involves a bus to Burnley, a train to Accrington (our carriage containing an enthusiastic hen party on their way to Blackpool), then a very local bus along to Church, the midway mark of the whole canal.

Where we gladly arrive.
At the place where we last left off.
And immediately have our picnic lunch.
Gazing at a field of horses.
Lunch eaten we pass the first of today and the next day’s many mills. Most not working as mills any more.
Along this stretch we also see the return of swing bridges. Not seen along recent stretches.
We haven’t eaten all of our food as it happens.
So the friendly horse gets Sarah’s carrots.

Sorry the woodworking stopped working for you.

Through Clayton-le-Moors.
Some say Heritage, some say Memorials.
Anyone any idea what these are for? One on each side of this bridge.
Back out into open country.
A shitbridge? Technical term.
Sarah constantly refolding the map she’s made of the route.

There’s a summary of it at the foot of this post, but today’s original with bridge numbers and landmarks so we always know where we are is a seven sheets wonder.

Taking us high into the Pennines now.

An abandoned canal-side house in the foreground, M65 in the background.

Though we’ve had to do a fair amount of pathfinding to get this far on our walk, the canal itself is of course the major path here. It’s engineers laying out the routes that would soon be followed by the trains and eventually the motorways. I won’t even bother showing you all the times the canal threads under the M65 today, for example.

“Everyone in line there?”

Yes it’s a lifeboat, on the canal. No, I’ve no idea why either.
We are being carefully studied.
First kayak of the whole trip glides by.
Coming into Hapton, an abundance of decks. All different, well done!
New houses going up…
With this wondrous view.
Time for a break?

As you may have noticed it has in fact been a lovely sunny day. And so hot that, well short of our destination, our water has run out.

So we turn off eat Hapton, wondering what lack of planning courtesy resulted in such a small town having to be split in two by the M65? When the canal had, as so often, carefully skirted its edge?
Anyway, we find the Railway Inn.
Where we thank all in there for the warm and interested welcome.
Refreshed and cooled we walk on.
Under the inevitable M65.
“When society breaks down,” predicts a dystopian Sarah “people will be living under here.”
Refractions we call these bouncing reflections.
Becoming more urban now, approaching Burnley.
A house-building site being protected from what exactly? Us?
Into Burnley.

Next, we arrive at the first of two tunnels the canal will go through before reaching Yorkshire soon.

This one’s called the Gannow Tunnel.

Fairly short but a difficult engineering feat to pull off as the hill it goes through had already been mined. (The rocks tunnelled out were used to build the embankment you’ll see Burnley from in the next section of our walk.)

Any road up, we can’t walk through there.

Neither could the horses in the early days of the canal. The boatmen would, Sarah tells me “Walk the barges through the tunnel, lying on their backs, pushing along the walls.”

Here in the early 21st century we have to find our way to where the canal will emerge.

And believe it or not I don’t notice the graffiti while wondering if this is the right way?
We do find signs, but it could be done better.
And should the tow path really, really include crossing a slip road onto the M65?
Lives and limbs spared by the traffic we make it through to the other side.

Into what I’d say is the most emotional part of this walking so far. The heartland of the industrial north. We walk quietly like we are walking through cathedrals. Not all is ruin, and the surprise of much is that it is still here at all. Unlike at Wigan and Blackburn where so much of history has been wiped clear we both walk through here thinking of what might yet be?

There is some new rising.
And some restored.

This is Slater Terrace, an amazing piece of canal side housing. Though sadly it’s housing no more. Instead, office space here could set you back £15,000 a year. Gorgeous though.

Nearly done for today.
This wharf open and cheerful with canal-side sociability.

We admire the quality of the workings

Our end of walk rumination and reflections on the beauty of Burnley interrupted by a whole cycle-club.
Who’d clearly not read my last post!
Ah well.
Bus back to Barnoldswick.
And back to Burnley for more walking tomorrow.

That was just wonderful. If hotter than forecast. Here’s Sarah’s summary map of the walk.

Read all of our Leeds Liverpool Canal walks here.

Published by Ronnie

Writing about life, Liverpool and anything else that interests me. As well as working with others to make the world a fairer and kinder place:

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  1. Thank you Ronnie and Sarah, I love your posts and always look forward to the next one

  2. Another interesting day’s walk, the planning and research must take a lot of time.

    It’s 40 years since I’ve been to Barnoldswick but it’s good to see that RR and Silentnight are still there. The main thing I remember is that in the engine name Rolls Royce RB211 the B stands for Barnoldswick.
    I thought the locals were saying Bar’wick but maybe I miss heard.

    1. Hi Cliff, it’s just two places with Barlic in their names, so as I said I can’t be certain that’s what everyone says. And yes, the planning and research are carefully done, mainly by Sarah.

  3. Enjoying following your walk, my husband’s family are from Hapton & Burnley so we know it well. Many of them worked in the mills, his Grandma could lip read, they had to as the noise of the looms meant they couldn’t hear each other. She became very deaf too, but no compensation in those days! We are both proud to be descended from cotton workers, mine were Manchester area, but conditions were the same for them all, hard graft…..

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