Sunday, April 30, 2006

Canal Walk: Chorley

The rain and drizzle managed to hold off long enough for todays towpath trek. We parked at Botany Bay by the half mile post marking 46.5 miles to Liverpool. We have walked north from here up to Johnsons Hillock before so today we went south as far as Rawlinsons Bridge #71 at the 43 mile mark. A 7 mile round trip was about right given the grey weather.

We spotted the 46.25mile quarter mile post but there was no sign of the 46 mile milepost, it probably went when the motorway was put in.

All along this walk we were never far from the motorways or busy main roads. There were signs of past industry but only one remaining mill. Some places were residential with gardens backing onto the canal. The towpath was popular with cyclists (who had left their manners at home), fishermen and walkers. We saw 5 boats on the move (one of which was going backwards). There were no swans at bridge 77A Froon Street so there was no need to tighten my grip on my walking stick as George Birtill felt he had to on his trek.

Milepost 45 was missing but the half mile (44.5 miles) was there. After Barrack Bridge #75 the area around the canal was wooded and there was less sign of industry. We found milepost 44 which needs a coat of paint.

This section is part of Rennies Lancaster Canal South part so the bridges are his impressive monuments. Bridge 74A is perhaps the most impressive, it is both skewed and twisted over the canal with deep rope cuts and stalagmites. The aqueduct near Cross Hall Bridge #76 is a great work of engineering and design but one few people must see as the view from the aqeduct is as George Birtill said in 1973 one of "one mill in ruins and the yard full of industrial paraphenalia". This river is Black Brook the source of Chorley's industrial power.

43.75 miles quartermile post was spotted as we headed towards the end of our trek. Bewteen Idle Bridge #72 and Rawlinson Bridge #71 there are the remains of a embankment where a mineral railway crossed the canal from the Ellerbeck Colliery.

Mile post 43 is not shown on any map, and is now missing, but under Rawlinson Bridge you can see the milepost shaped mark of where it once was. A sort of trace fossil of the milepost world.

It was too wet to sit on the bench opposite the boatyard so we just turned around and started back. The highlight of the return trip was a big pig in a pen next to the canal.

I doubt I will do this walk again, the towpath was good in places for cyclists but the views cannot compare with the sections either side of this stretch.

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