Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Canal Walk: Salterforth to Greenberfield

We parked Rocinante in the car park by the canal opposite the Anchor Inn by bridge #151. Sancho Panza and I set off in search of a lost canal, a lost flight of locks and as many mileposts as we could find.
A mile down the cut we came to the spot where the Rain Hall Rock Branch joined the main line. The rock cut was a short arm of the main canal which was simply a quarry which boats could enter and be loaded directly from the quarry-face. Limestone was quarried here and was a good source of income for the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Company. When the quarry was closed parts of it were filled in with rubbish. Photographs show that an arch remained next to one of the tunnels on the branch. On the canal the wall by the towpath rises at the point where the branch was. There is a tree-filled gap between a fence and the foundations of a demolished mill which marks the course of the first section of the rock cut. Walking up to Long Ing bridge and turning right we followed a path up the hill. When we were inline with the higher towpath wall we could look downhill along the line of the branch, the path goes over the first tunnel, behind us was a wall with the last remaining section of the quarry beyond. We continued up the path past the farm buildings on the right and along the embankment on the left. Further up the hill the embankment is lower and we could look over it and down a steep slope to the quarry cut. There is still water in the cut but the section is completely overgrown with trees and it was not safe to investigate further. The path turns left and crosses the cut again cross what was the second tunnel. There is no sign of there ever having been a quarry further up the hill, to the right of the path the cut has been completely filled in and grassed over. We retraced our steps and returned to the canal at Long Ing Bridge #153. There is on road parking here.
We continued along the canal. Past Coate’s bridge #154A on the left is the Rolls Royce factory; from the towpath you can see the zigzag roof with its skylights at canal level. A bit further on we found milepost 86 and were passed by a proper Liverpool barge, romantically named “A40”. Barges on the Leeds Liverpool were a development of the Mersey flatboats that were used on the rivers. At 14foot wide they are definitely not narrow boats.
Through Greenberfield Bridge #156 you can see the old canal office building, now a house and BWB station. Greenberfield Top Lock and the start of the canals descent to Leeds from the summit level is next to the house. The locks have a car-park and picnic area. Even the sandwichless visitor should take a diversion into the picnic area to see the old route of the locks marked most distinctly by a bridge in a field with no canal beneath it. On the uphill side of the bridge the ground level is now at road level, on the down hill side there is a drop down to a dry canal. The backgarden of Greenber Field Cottage is the old pound between locks. The old route runs along side the locks to the bottom lock where you can see a reedy stretch of former canal.
At Greenberfield Changeline bridge #158 we met a very friendly horse who posed for photographs with the canal as a background. The canal show its age after this point. In the earlier age of canal building engineers followed contours rather than using the tunnels and embankments of the later stages. This section of canal up to Gargrave has some of the most serpentine twists and bends of any canal I have seen.
Passing milepost 87 we walked up to bridge #159. Before the bridge there are a pair of stone buildings which I guess were for transhipping coal from canal to cart.
We turned around at the bridge and walked back to the Anchor Inn for lunch where we caught up with A40. A40 was one of Rank’s the millers boats carrying grain to Blackburn, before it passed to Henry Crosedale in the 1950’s who supplied Blackburn and Wigan power stations with coal.

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