Over the top: Walking to Leeds Section 12

The morning after our Leeds Liverpool Canal walk brings us to Barnoldswick we set off from there and begin our walk over the highest point of the canal and into Yorkshire.

Beginning by the former cotton mill that’s long been a Rolls Royce aero engine factory.
Sarah immediately encounters some canoeists.
And has an intense ‘on the water’ conversation. Kayaks are mentioned.

As we leave Barnoldswick behind.
Ready to leave Lancashire.

Though in fact we feel we’ve already left Lancashire, as Barnoldswick was actually in Yorkshire until the 1974 local government reorganisation told it different – well anyway.

We approach our late breakfast destination.
And find our table.
Friendly, welcoming and well worth making time for if you walk this section of the canal.

The Lock Stock Café, more here.

It’s by the Greenberfield Locks, the top of the cut.

And while we’re here I’ll interrupt the tale of our walk for the moment to mention that, at this point, we’re close to something that you can see on some photographs over at the Tow Path Treks website. The original course of the canal. Pennine Waterways tell  us:

“Looking over the wall near Lock 43, the original course of the canal at Greenberfield can be seen, curving towards the disused bridge. The original line ascended a 2 rise lock staircase beyond the bridge. In 1817 the staircase was found to waste too much water, leaving the summit pound shallow at times, so was replaced by individual locks on a new alignment.”

We will see evidence of the canal’s original course soon, but we miss it here. A reminder that we’re walking the canal together for the pleasure of doing so, and if we miss some things than that’s how it is with walking, you see what you see.

Let’s walk on.

So we’re over the top now.

And though of course canals don’t really flow downhill, all the locks from now on will bring us down from the 148 metres peak we’re leaving behind.

As we follow the canal into a clearly different place.

Twisting and turning through rolling hills.

More animals than humans for company from now on today.
Though of course we’re walking along the work of humans, some of it long abandoned. Part of the canal’s original course here.

And duly marked by Sarah on her map at the end of this post.

A coal wharf?
For unloading from the canal onto local carts?

Something similar is pictured on Tow Path Treks.

Time passes.

Miles pass here, peacefully. Walking together through the quietest section of the whole canal so far.

Where we’re part of the Pennine Way for a while.
Though it may not look like a hot day a rest and a cool down is welcome.

As we get going we come upon something extraordinary near East Marton.

Bridge 161.

That’s the raised up A59 road there carried above the second archway. Cleverly beautiful engineering.

A rare canalised house round here. Good use of location.
Once more into open Yorkshire country.

Another canalside rarity, which Sarah is identifying as a bench.

Where we gratefully sit for a while before following the zigzagging canal through open moorland for the next couple of miles.

We’d expected much more of our journey to look like this. In the middle of nowhere, out of touch.
With only sheep for company.

At this point I break into my “This is not a natural landscape you know?” monologue. Where I harangue the wool trade from the 14th century onwards and the sheep themselves for the clearances of trees and people that have created these grassland deserts over the not that high uplands of Britain, in the service of greed and to the detriment of the flooding lower lands, towns and villages.

The sheep seem to have heard this before and all walk off. Away from the steady Pennine rain that’s now sweeping in.
We are a long way from home.
A proper Leeds Liverpool Canal barge.
“Steered round a tight corner?’ Or is that not the correct canal speak?

Next we encounter something last seen back on Section Six of our walk when blog commenter John Morris told us about how sections of the canal could be blocked off and drained when necessary.

Stores of what look a bit like railway sleepers.
But with narrowed ends.
To drop into the nearby grooves on either side of the canal, like the one at the centre of the bridge there, and so block it off.
So there.

One of these Bank Newton Locks being named after Mike Clarke, canal historian and president of the Leeds Liverpool Canal Society.

He has this to say about the view illustrated there:

“Some of the finest canal scenery can be found along its (Leeds Liverpool) banks, but for me this is perhaps the one I think of most often, the view from Bank Newton towards the Aire Valley and Flasby Fell.

Travelling around the world researching waterway history, I would always compare foreign waterways with this view, and have yet to find its equal.”

Towards the Aire Valley and Flasby Fell.

The Aire being the river that flows through Leeds.

Meanwhile the leak in the side of Mike’s lock could do with fixing.

Coming towards Gargrave now. Rain still falling.

Approaching the end of today’s walk then.

Less than 34 miles to go to Leeds.

Less than it’s taken us since Blackburn only a few weeks ago.

We’re not in any rush to finish though and I couldn’t say when we will. It’s not a race but every mile has been such a pleasure that all the rest are to be treasured. We know as we approach its end that we will never do the whole of this walk again, so we will complete it gently and in our own time, some time.

Finally, Sarah’s map of our walk to Gargrave.

See 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: http://asenseofplace.com.

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  1. I hope / assume you’ve read some of George Monbiots thoughts on sheep farming? I was in Sedbergh at the weekend and many of the hills are completely stripped.. I was very pleased to see a small copse of trees, only to get closer and see that this was actually fenced off to protect it from the sheep.

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