Have you ever started something then after a while realised it’ll take longer than you think, but if you give up part way through there would have been no point starting it in the first place so you carry on regardless? Well that was me a week ago when I set out to walk a section of the Leeds-Liverpool canal. My starting point was Bridge 91A by the Boatyard Restaurant at the side of the canal at Riley Green on the A675, just a fifteen minute drive from home, and my walk was to take me eastwards to Green Park on the outskirts of Blackburn. I’ve been along that particular section of canal a few times, the last time about four years ago, but as I’ve always previously cycled with various dogs running alongside I would actually now be walking it for the first time.
I set off in glorious sunshine but I hadn’t been walking long before it clouded over so most of the afternoon was rather grey, although the sunshine and blue sky did return briefly a couple of times. The footpath was very wet and muddy in several places too and it was quite heavy going at times so I was glad I’d thought to put my wellies on – and needless to say, the two little dogs who started out clean and white very quickly became black and dirty.
The first bridge I came to was 91B, Finnington Bridge, and just beyond it was Finnington permanent moorings with half a dozen narrowboats moored up; most of them seemed to be uninhabited but a couple of them had someone living on board. Several more minutes walking brought me to a wide bend in the canal and after the next couple of bridges I passed a boundary marker and a derelict water tower, the last remaining part of what was once a paper mill – I would have taken a photo but it’s an ugly looking building. I remembered that once I was past there I would soon see some modern houses with boat moorings on the far side of the canal but somehow they weren’t as close as I thought they were – I came to them eventually but it took a while.
My next landmark was a block of modern apartments set right next to the tow path and again the distance to get to them was greater than I remembered. I seemed to have been walking for hours, I was beginning to get tired and my end goal, Green Park, still seemed a long way off. It didn’t help that I had the beginnings of a cold and I’d been feeling a bit ropey before I left home, but I’d thought a bit fresh country air would do some good – and I’d gone so far by then that to turn back without reaching Green Park would have made the walk pointless, so I kept on walking.
Beyond the next bridge, which was No.95, a large area of allotments ran parallel to the canal and stretched for a couple of hundred yards; most of them had greenhouses or small sheds on them and the side of one of the sheds had what appeared to be several dead wild animals nailed to it, though when I got closer I could see that they weren’t actually corpses but wood carvings, presumably done by whoever owned the shed. They were very well done and certainly looked quite realistic from a distance. Beyond the allotments and under the next bridge I came to four rows of red brick terraced houses set sideways on to the canal path; a large cat was sitting on the path up ahead but when it saw Sophie and Poppie it quickly scarpered halfway up a nearby tree and sat there looking daggers at us.
From there it took another three bridges and two relatively short sections of canal and I’d finally made it – Green Park was on my left down below the canal bank. Under normal circumstances I would have gone down to the park and lingered for a while on one of the benches but the afternoon was wearing on, I still had to walk all the way back to the van, and I didn’t want to run out of daylight before I got back there so I quickly snapped another couple of shots then set off on the return journey.
I’d been walking for a while when I came across an information board, which I hadn’t noticed before, set back off the path. It had a diagram of the canal and its bridges, with distances between various points; from there back to Green Park was 1.6 miles, and onwards to the Boatyard was three miles – so by the time I got back to the van I would have walked a total of just over nine miles. Of course Sod’s Law decreed that the late afternoon would turn out much nicer than the rest of the time I’d been out but I didn’t have time to linger – one final shot and that was it for the day, I walked without stopping again.
The Boatyard was lit up by the time I got back there, and although the sun had finally gone down there was still quite a bit of daylight left – with all the narrowboats moored up beside the restaurant it would have made a good picture but by then I was in no mood for any more photo taking. I was just glad to see the van, get in it and drive home – I think the dogs were glad too as they just curled up and I didn’t hear a peep from either of them all the way back.
Casting my mind back over my walk it seemed strange that everything along the canal which was familiar to me had seemed so far away and had taken so long to get to but thinking about it, when you’re tootling leisurely along on a bike in the summer sunshine and enjoying your surroundings you tend not to notice the distance – until you walk it like I just did. 4.6 miles wasn’t really any great distance but double it and it was far enough, especially as I wasn’t feeling 100% fit. I think next time I go along there I’ll be back on the bike!
Linking this with Jo’s Monday Walk where this time she’s back in England and walking through a pub!