Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Canal Walk: Leeds

This weekend I completed my walk from Liverpool to Leeds, from Old Hall Street and Pall Mall to River Lock and the Aire and Calder Navigation. Strolling, walking and trekking 127.25 miles along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, albeit in different stages over a couple of years.
Saturday 14th June
We left Liverpool at 9:22 am on Saturday from Lime Street Station. From the train I saw the canals at Castlefield in Manchester, underneath the railway arches where I spent a holiday once years ago. As the train neared Huddersfield there was another narrower canal probably the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.
We arrived in Leeds at 11:09, less than 2 hours travel time and a few days quicker than a fly-boat.
Realising I didn’t know Leeds and didn’t have a map other than my Nicholson Guide we went to the Tourist Information centre at Leeds Station and picked up a free map of the city centre. My research into the pubs of Leeds hadn’t turned up much but one put did come recommended, Whitelocks (formerly known as the Turks Head) . The pub has a good selection of beers and has some nice tiles in its compact narrow interior. The pub and the yard with it are examples of the inns built in the back gardens of original burgage plots. Burgage plots were the long thin plots of land given to merchants and tradesmen to build their houses and shops on. Many sold land to the rear and pubs and other businesses were built with access to the main street via an alley at the side of the merchant house. Sadly the food in the pub isn’t much to write home about and more than one customer left without finishing their food. A disappointing start to the weekend for us.

After checking in to the Jurys Inn hotel at Brewery Wharf we noticed there was a waterside festival on. I think anyone turning up based on the promise of an arts market and other attractions might have felt a little short changed.
I decided to do a little reconnaissance and find River Lock and the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. I knew the canal terminus was near the station so we started there but only found the River Aire and was above it not alongside it. After a bit of wandering about I found myself on Victoria Bridge over the Aire. A group of youths were settling down with a crate of beer on one side so I walked over to the other side and found the original 1770s canal warehouse now an expensive restaurant called the Olive Press. On the other side is River Lock, lock number one of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. We walked along the canal to the last bridge of the Leeds & Liverpool: Office Lock Bridge #226 and looked over to see Office Lock. A way off was the last milepost. Next to the bridge is the little office building which gives the lock its name. Unfortunately someone had parked in front so I couldn’t get a photo then. I just hoped the weather was okay when I came past next time. I did get a photograph of one of the two canal company notices on the bridge. They refer to the Motor Car Acts of 1896 and 1903 and give the address of the canal company as Pall Mall, Liverpool.
We went back to the hotel along the River Aire and took some photographs of Victoria, Leeds and Crown Point Bridges. We bought sausages and chips from a boutique chippy, Battered, but sadly they were horrible. Any chippy making its customers wait so long for such bad chips would go out of business anywhere else; luckily for Battered they have a captive and ever changing cliental at the nearby hotels.

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