Another gloriously warm and sunny afternoon saw me out and about with the dogs and camera again, this time along the Radcliffe to Bury section of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury canal. My walk started from the car park of the Last Orders pub on the A665 leading into Radcliffe; a short flight of stone steps led down from the car park itself to the towpath and I’d only gone twenty yards or so when I got my first shot, followed by a second one within another twenty yards. A bit further on was an old railway bridge in faded red paint and with lettering on the side, though I couldn’t quite make out what it said until I got closer to it.
The footpath over the bridge was part of a much longer path known locally as the ‘banana path’ (opinions seem to differ as to why it’s called that) and the slogan on the side of the bridge was one of the more obscure ‘artworks’ on the Irwell Sculpture Trail. Designed by New York-based artist Lawrence Weiner, one of the central figures of late 20th century art, the slogan is one of several in various locations around the world and is supposed to represent the artist’s attempt to understand the nature of water. Now I wonder, just how many minutes did it take him to think that one up?!
From the bridge the towpath was bordered for much of its length by hawthorn trees which had recently come into bloom and were giving off their lovely scent. I love the smell of hawthorn and often think it’s a shame that some enterprising perfume manufacturer doesn’t develop a fragrance like that; I’m not normally a perfume wearer but if there was a hawthorn one I’d have bottles of the stuff.
Across the far side of the canal open fields were dotted with sheep and cows, while in the far distance ahead and high up on the hills were the wind turbines of Scout Moor windfarm, the second largest onshore windfarm in England. As far as countryside goes I wasn’t that far from civilisation, there was nothing remarkable about my surroundings and there weren’t a great many photo opportunities as much of my route looked the same, but in the warm sunshine and with the sound of various birds in the trees it was a really pleasant walk.
Eventually I came to another bridge and the high bank of Elton reservoir over on my left; I’d reached the outskirts of Bury and I knew from cycling that way years ago that I would soon be approaching an industrial area and there wasn’t much canal left, so I left the towpath and followed the nearby lane over the bridge and up to the reservoir. Elton Sailing Club was nearby and there were several yachts in the process of going back to the clubhouse so I snapped a quick photo then set off on a clockwise circuit of the lake.
Away from the reservoir bank and over on the far side the land became flatter with several places where I could leave the path and get to the water’s edge so I decided to let the dogs have a paddle. Poppie however didn’t stop at just a paddle, she was so eager to get into the water that she slipped off the sandy edge and ended up swimming in water that was deeper than she’d expected. Sophie as usual stuck to just getting her paws wet but it wasn’t long before she too had an unexpected dip.
A bit further along from there the path veered away from the water and skirted a small creek with a stream running into it. The stream was crossed by a wooden bridge and I’d just stopped to take a photo when SPLOSH – Sophie, running around like she normally does, had misjudged the end of the bridge and fallen straight into the stream. And for a little dog who absolutely hates water she swam very well and was soon scrambling back up onto the path. So I ended up with two very wet dogs but I knew that by the time we got back to the van they would both be dry again.
As I got near to the sailing club the path became private so I had to continue my walk along the lane behind the clubhouse, then once I got back to the point where I started my circuit of the reservoir I made my way back over the canal bridge and down to the towpath to head back to the van. A few clouds had started to gather by then so the sun disappeared briefly a couple of times but by the time I got close to where I’d left the van most of them had cleared away, so I got one last shot before I climbed the steps back up to the car park.
At least I didn’t have to put two wet dogs in the back of the van, they’d both completely dried out on our way back from the reservoir and once they’d settled down I didn’t hear a peep from either of them all the way back home. It had been an enjoyable walk along a very pleasant stretch of the canal and it was one which I’ll probably do again in the not-too-distant future.
I’m linking up again with Jo’s Monday Walk where this week she’s continuing her exploration of Bath – do pop over and join her for some architecture, quirkiness and a rhubarb and cherry slice or two.