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.
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.
We’re not expecting to reach Barnoldswick itself on this weekend’s visit, but definitely will next time we come to stay.
Anyway, after a peaceful night’s sleep in the lovely terraced house we’d booked we’re ready for the day’s adventure.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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?