This was lovely. Several days together, walking along our canal again, through the sun and rain and Yorkshire, in perfect peace.
To get to here in Bingley Sarah and I have walked a hundred and eleven miles along this canal together, and we’re nearly done. Another sixteen miles will take us all the way into Leeds, all the way from our Liverpool home. And we’re glad. Glad that we’ve done it and glad that it’s almost done.
It’s been a real adventure of a journey and also much longer than the miles we’ve walked along the Leeds Liverpool Canal itself. Adding up all the others we’ve travelled we reckon the journey’s been well over a thousand miles around North West England’s industrial history and uncertain present. Much of it on public transport and all of it with the binding thread of the canal path lengthening behind us. Expanding our sense of place from the port where we live to its founding hinterland. Educating ourselves about this wider home’s well-being and otherwise.
The canal’s been our peace and tranquility all the way along. That unusual and repeated feeling of walking places we’ve never been before and yet knowing exactly where we are all the time. “Here it is” we’ll repeat to each other with relief, upon finding the canal again after however long. Weekly or monthly for the first twelve instalments of our walking, that you might already have read. Then a gap of three years until this week’s return. Three years when we mostly thought we were done with exclaiming over picturesque bridges and industrial architecture. Done enough to ever want to come back. Until we did.
Our growing sense of the incompletion of our journey coinciding with the fact that, come this virus year, the canal had become one of the safer places we could be walking along come the summer’s end. So we returned to where we’d left off, in August 2107. To Gargrave high up in the Pennines. And over the early days of the week we walked slowly down from the hills to here in Bingley.
We’ve been staying in Ilkley, for the several buses and one train we’ve needed to get to and from each day’s walks. And gone in no bars and no restaurants, staying as distanced as we do when we’re at home. Looking for wildflowers, like always, through the hill towns, the farmlands and high moors that have brought us to here. Past the Bingley Five-Rise Locks and then the Three-Rise to now, sixteen miles from Leeds. Our canal adventure nearly done.
Here’s the story of this week’s walking then, in pictures.
All the way along we’ve seen the contrast of intense beauty and the effects of these past ten years of forced political austerity on North West England. The canal itself a silent witness to the brutal history of now.
Another sixteen miles, all the way from our Liverpool home.