From Nelson to Barnoldswick: Walking to Leeds Section 11

All will be revealed later.

After a few dog days, sorry about that, I’m glad to get back to canal walking, returning to our Barnoldswick base that we’re using to cover the highest sections of the Leeds Liverpool Canal, through East Lancashire into West Yorkshire. Over this weekend it’s our intention to cross over the top of the Pennines and begin our descent into West Yorkshire and Leeds. Let’s go.

Getting the M1 bus back to Nelson where we left off a fortnight ago. The chimney the only thing left standing of this particular mill.
Through the pleasantly terraced streets of town.
Arriving back at ‘our’ canal.
Where Sarah helpfully points out today’s route.

Morrisons and mosques, our companions all through East Lancashire.
And where the mills used to be?

Well, as often as not these big box sheds. For retail or offices and looking, to me, like merely temporary visitors to our urban landscapes.

Functional, merely functional.
Walking out of Nelson. I only really know about football where sport’s concerned. So is this a baseball pitch?
Sarah notices the blackberries are on their way.
So we taste a few. Juicy.
Yo indeed. We walk on.
Across the repairs of centuries.
Outside Pendle Vale College a dog passes us carrying a plastic bottle. By no means the last dog on this walk.
See, Pendle Vale.
Crossing Colne Water.
Now approaching Barrowford Locks, where we will learn something.
From Michael. One of the Canal and Rivers Trust lock-keepers here.

Now I’m not saying you do this, dear reader of this blog, but people do. You know, the people who blithely leave those little black plastic dog poo bags behind them. Blithely assuming, I assume, that the Poo Fairy will clear up after them?

Well, as well as being lock-keepers, general helps to all and hugely enthusiastic about all things canal…

Michael and his colleagues are Poo Fairies.

Generally clearing up all the detritus left behind by canal users.
Including those little black plastic bags.

So come on, help Michael out by doing the picking up and disposal yourself.

And let him get on with his real job.

Poo lecture over.

Once again, and for the last time, the canal passes under the M65.
With a beautiful pre-motorway type structure last seen under a bridge in Blackburn.
Barrowford Locks…
And now reservoir.
Canal and reservoir together.
Notice board at the reservoir where people record their latest nature sightings.
The back of the same notice board revealing that most of these nature lovers are also golden delicious fiends.
We’ve come a long way from home now.
Looking back on East Lancashire as we approach West Yorkshire.

Now a couple of weeks back you might remember we were temporarily pushed off the towpath in Burnley while the canal went through the relatively short Gannow Tunnel.

Well this time we’ll be away from the canal for more than a mile as the head-lit barges enter the Foulridge Tunnel here.
I go right down to the edge of the tunnel to get that photograph.
Something I suspect not many people do.
As it’s slippy and very boggy down here.
Oh well. The barges head off into the dark.
See you at the other end.
How to get to the other end is the question though?

There are no ‘tow path’ notices like there had been in Burnley. And the potential routes seem to set off in directions away from where we know the tunnel is.

So we set off on this path, knowing it’s most closely following the tunnel itself.
And all seems well for a while.
Until our chosen route turns into a densely overgrown ditch.

At which point the cameras are stowed safely away as we push on through stinging nettles and sharp bracken to a destination we’re increasingly unsure of. Last thing we want to have to do is retrace our unsteady steps through this quagmire.

Any road up, I only fall over the once and our guesswork is right.

Our choice of direction confirmed retrospectively by contraptions modern and ancient.
We re-energize with some Kendal Mint Cake.

If it could help Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary get to the top of Everest it can surely help us get to Foulridge.

Down into the small town.
And through its streets.
To where we find the far end of the Foulridge tunnel.
And this helpful notice about the paths we might have taken, from where we might have shown you photos of the two mighty Foulridge Reservoirs
Ah well. Put these notices at the other end maybe?
At the wharf in Foulridge we sit down for a rest and a drink.

Where, as you’ll know, I’m keen to see evidence of a developing canal-side economy.

But does this look like £9.20 to you?

Sarah who bought it came back to the table muttering ‘eye watering.’

Glad to see this preserved bit of canal signage up there though.
This too, further along the path.
Next, Sarah decides to be competitive about photographs.

A conceit between us all along these walks is that now and then ‘the Committee’ (me) will pompously announce:

“A grand photography competition open to all photographers walking along this particular stretch of the canal on this particular day.”

So, open to us two and no one else.

On this particular day no such announcement has been made but Sarah’s decided to pitch in her entries anyway. Here they are:

Nice reflection on the second one there and both competition winners, I’m sure you’ll agree. Had there been one.

Bridge within bridge.
Out through open country and some blue remembered hills.
We cross into Yorkshire.

What a joy this has been.

And as we enter Yorkshire some credit here where it’s undoubtedly due.

When the canal was about to be 200 years old Marie Millward, a friend from Leeds, asked me if I’d walk along it for a bit from Liverpool and write her an article, for the celebratory project she was involved in. Another friend would write the equivalent Leeds piece. Which Phil Kirby duly did. I however never got round to it. So, in a way, this entire series of blog posts could be seen as my penance to Marie for a task not done.

Well anyway, thank you Marie for the original impetus. This has been our El Camino, our pilgrimage through the industrial north and we’re loving every mile of it. Sorry I never wrote the original article but we’ll see you in Leeds before very long at all now.

We contine.
Past what looks like one of those Britains Toy Farms from the 1960s.
On a sunny early evening.

Passing a tow line roller.
Explained here.
A mile now from today’s destination.

Where a curious incident occurs after I take this photograph from the tow path:

Of the Salterforth Dog Agility Training Club.

Joe, who runs this with his partner Helen, good naturedly asks what I’m up to and I of course reply that Sarah and I are from the Dog Agilty Standards Association and have come to see that standards are being kept up.

We are invited in.

One dog, Jazz, is selected to do a demonstration run around what they’re all up to here.

I crouch in position.
My camera on its fastest capture setting.
And here comes Jazz!
Over the hurdle.
Clears it cleanly.
And disappears right off the edge of the picture.

Afterwards all four dogs line up proudly for their portrait.

Look at the camera there!
Well done all, a privilege to meet you.
Well done you, Jazz.

And well done Helen and Joe. A bit of the canal side economy we could never have dreamed up in a thousand years!

We walk on.
Into a sunny Barnoldswick evening.

The one and only time on this entire adventure so far that we’re arriving at the place we’re staying with no local transport involved.

‘Home’ for now.
And this close to Leeds.
Leaving the canal by the Silentnight Beds factory.

From where we will not be resuming in the morning. As those of you who’ve been paying attention will know, we walked the next short section, around Barnoldswick to the Rolls Royce engines factory the evening we first arrived here and included it in our Section Nine report.

So see you by Rolls Royce next time as we go over the topper most section of the canal and begin our descent into Leeds.

Here’s Sarah’s map of this walk into Barnoldswick.

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. I like your poo fairy anecdote. Those little plastic bags, would definitely be in my Room 101 selection. I’m just back from walking The Ridgeway; and those bags were everywhere and very frequently hung in bushes. So it’s not just a northern thing.

  2. “But does this look like £9.20 to you?”

    Sad to say but I’m less and less surprised by cafe prices. I’d guess £2.80 per bottle, £1.80 per tub. Best part of a tenner gone for a drink and a snack.

    Are they relying on a captive audience, or simply people in need of a rest with little alternative, or are the people who walk/cycle the canal simply happy to pay these prices (posher!?)

    1. Well for a kick off, we’re finding hardly anyone walking the canal. Perhaps a short stroll to the next bridge and back, but very few actual walkers. Lots of bike riders, but not at this café. Instead this seemed a destination for a car drive on a Saturday afternoon. Fair enough and they have to charge what they have to charge to make a living, but we preferred the canal-side café we’ll be showing you on the next walk, done the day after this one.

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