Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Canal Walk: Blackburn to Cherry Tree

After some map reading we found our way to the carpark of the Wharf pub at Eanam Wharf. This was my first time at the canal in Blackburn and I didn’t know what to expect. I was hoping to see some mills and signs of the much talked about regeneration of the canal area.

Eanam Wharf is a group of warehouses similar to those at Wigan Pier. The main warehouse is used by the Wharf pub and a conference centre, with the short covered section of towpath in front of the conference centre closed to walkers.

At midday on a Sunday I had expected the pub to be busy but we were the only car in the car park. We walked around the back of the well redeveloped warehouses to head out of Blackburn to the west.

The towpath is well maintained and would be great for cyclists although the bushes in some places could do with cutting back. Throughout the whole walk the towpath felt very isolated and quiet with only a few people walking on it, and none of the cheery “hello”s of the last walk.

The canal is above the city; past bridge #103 you get a good view down to the main railway station and across to the streets on the hills opposite. Walkers feel elevated on this section. As we arrived at Blackburn Top Lock we met a boat going down the flight. It was a welcome sight to see people using the canal. There are six locks and they, like the towpaths, have been refurbished recently. Lock 54 is squashed beneath a modern bridge, the canal only just given room to exist by the road builders.

The BWB sanitary station is in part of a group of canalside buildings which have been very nicely redeveloped. There is even a sculpture of a man on a bike, suggesting that the smart towpath is aimed at cyclists.

After the locks and just past bridge 98 I found a large milestone hiding behind some brambles. It was in very good condition considering it was made obsolete by the metal posts put in in 1898. After the milestone is Ewood aqueduct dated 1810 and a long embankment from which you can see the home of Blackburn Rovers.

At 55 miles to Liverpool the only milepost of the day was a sad sight. Both its plaques have been lost and the top is missing, filled with rubbish. The disappointing lack of mileposts was made up for by the finding of another milestone. The old 54 miles to Liverpool milestone is, like the 55 mile stone, in good condition.

At Cherry Tree Bridge #95 we reached the start of George Birtill’s legendary Towpath Treks. There are a lot of new houses which won’t have been there when Birtill took to the towpath. There was no sign of milepost 54, and we turned around at Livesey Hall Bridge #94.

We returned to Eanam Wharf to find the pub still empty. The warehouse here is said to have a milepost (57 miles) inside it but the conference centre made it impossible to look for it.

No comments: