A long spell of gloriously sunny and very mild weather lasting from mid September finally ended last Friday – it was wet all day, with a mixture of prolonged periods of fine drizzle and shorter bursts of really heavy rain, but on Saturday the sun came back and the weekend has been glorious. It was far too nice to stay in all the time so yesterday I took Sophie and Poppie (and the camera) for a long walk through part of the local countryside so I could capture some of the remaining autumn colours before all the leaves completely disappeared from the trees.
My walk started by the local River Croal where it flows under one of the main roads south of the town and from there I made my way to the upper part of the old Manchester, Bury & Bolton canal. Built between 1791 and 1808 to link Bolton and Bury to Manchester the canal was originally just over fifteen miles long, but it’s been disused since the 1960s and many parts of it have been filled in over the years to make way for various roads, housing developments and industrial estates – only 40% of it still contains water, with many parts very overgrown with reeds, grasses and surface weed, but the canalside path makes for a very pleasant walk on a sunny day.
Just by the first of the old bridges a wide gravel path took me down a steep slope to the lower canal; the two parts of the canal were once joined by two sets of three staircase locks, and though the lower staircase was filled in many years ago the remains of the upper staircase can still be seen. Not far from there a rather overgrown aquaduct took the canal over the River Irwell and from there my walk took me past open fields on one side and a farm and a recently-built small housing development on the other, though this was shielded from the canal by plenty of tall trees.
Eventually that section of the canal came to an end and I made that my turn round point, though when I got back to where the old staircase locks used to be I didn’t go back to the upper canal – instead I turned left through a kissing gate to where a path bordered an open field and eventually took me through a large area of woodland. I’d been that way one day back in early May and had been surprised to see a couple of young deer running across the field and into the woods so I rather hoped I would get lucky and see them again but other than a squirrel and a couple of other dogs with their owners I didn’t see any other signs of life.
The woods ended in another open field with a bridge across the River Croal and at the far side was the car park where I’d left the van. I hadn’t been watching the time so when I got back there I was quite surprised to realise that my walk had taken me two hours – I didn’t think I’d been out that long but it had been a very pleasant time, the dogs had enjoyed it and I’d got some good photos, so I considered it to be two hours well spent.