Sunday, February 25, 2007

Canal Walk: Walton Summit Branch

I parked at Botany Bay just off Junction 8 of the M61 next to the half mile post. The weather was grey and a bit rainy so I had chosen a short trek to see what was left of the Walton Summit Branch. It is about three quarters of a mile from Botany Bay to the Junction. To the right are the locks at Johnsons Hillock taking the canal up to meet the Leeds Liverpool proper, to the left is what is left of the Walton Summit Branch. There is only a quarter of a mile of canal left with no winding hole or room to turn a boat that cannot turn on an ordinary stretch of canal and anyway boats aren't allowed down here. The canal ends abruptly at what was once the Johnsons Hillock bridge. Beyond its end there is no sign of there having ever been a canal here except the white Navigation House nearby which was once the Navigation Inn. I did find a battered quarter milepost at the end of the line.
After a quick look around I headed back to the main line and walked up the locks. The BWB mainatance boats Cornwall, Yarrow and Clitheroe II were at the locks fitting new gates.
By the small toll house at 4th Lock Bridge I tried to work out how the system worked for towing boats with no towpath under the bridge. There is a metal hook on the bridge which was obviously used and the bollards were well worn as were the stone work a the top of the bridge. The horse could cross the road and pull the boat out of the lock. The rope would go from the boat, around the hook, back to the bollard and then to the horse. At some point the rope would have to be detatched from the boat.

The buildings of Lock Farm are dated 1727, that is before the canal was started in the 1770s

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Canal Walk: Riley Green to Cherry Tree

I was hoping to walk at Hapton but there is nowhere to park at the boatyard by Knotts bridge so it was on to Plan B and Riley Green. There was a stretch of towpath between Feniscowles and Cherry Tree that had yet to walk so it was a good opportunity to complete the section.
Riley Green is just off Junction 3 of the M65. The Boatyard Inn makes it clear they do not want people to use their parking spaces while walking even if they use the pub during the visit. So, rather than risk the clamp and fine they threaten, I parked in the roadside parking on the A675 just off Junction 3.

Its a short walk down to the towpath at Riley GreenBridge #91A. There is a picturesque ruin besides the bridge. At the canal I turned right and headed towards Blackburn. The towpath is muddy here and a bit slippy but not so bad that it put off the families on bikes.
It didn't take long before I was at Feniscowles and at the border of Chorely and Blackburn. As the canal crosses and aqueduct next to the large paper works the M65 drones past on a higher viaduct. On the towpath it is easy to ignore the motorway behind the trees. There was a lone mandarin duck amongst the mallards, quite appropriate on Chinese New Year.
I found milepost 53 easily but 53.25 and 53.5 were a bit more of a challenge. The quarter milepost was almost completely buried, the half in a hedge. The stone marked on the OS map turned out to be the milestone for 53 miles, its near to the half milepost. The milestone is well preserved and has lasted better than the metal mileposts that replaced it. It has a bench mark carved on the top.
Between Feniscowles Bridge and Cherry Tree bridge there is a lot of new housing the only signs of the past are the remains of a railway bridge, an old cottage, some warehouses and the canal itself.
The towpath between Feniscowles bridge and Cherry Tree has been recently improved and is idea for people on wheels or those who dont like skidding about in mud. There is a new sign giving information about the towpath route.
Its a nice walk, popular with locals, although I much prefer walking the other way from Riley Green. Now I have done this section I have walked or cycled the first 63 and a half miles of the Leeds Liverpool Canal from Liverpool to Church without a gap.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Canal Walk: Church to Blackburn

After arriving in Blackburn far far too early for my train but not early enough for the train before it I had a wander about town and did some shopping. I had parked at the station car park which was free. Eventually it was time to get my train, it cost £2.20 for a single ticket to Church and took just 8 short minutes to get there. From the train you get a good view of the canal as you cross it three times and of Rishton Reservoir as the train passes by.
At Church turn right at the road and head to the canal at Simpsons Brdge 111D. At the bridge the canal makes a sharp turn at a large warehouse. Access to the canal is not at the bridge itself, something I didnt find out without a mile detour. Cross the bridge and walk down the road a couple of hundred yards and there is acess on your right. Once I got to the towpath at bridge 111D I walked on a quarter of a mile to thehalf mile post near bridge 112 Church Kirk Changeline bridge before turning around and heading to Blackburn.
The first stretch of canal through Church had a lot of quarter half and full mileposts in various states. There are also a set of brick kilns with their own arm of the canal to serve them.
The towpath was busy with dog walkers cyclists and other people out for a walk on a glorious sunny February Sunday. The canal in Church follows the contour which means you can walk for a while and look across to where you started. For a change the canal goes over a motorway rather than underneath it. The busy M65 was in complete contrast to the Leeds Liverpool canal which had no traffic on it at all all day.
Rishton is the next town after Church. I was dissapointed not to find milepost 61 and from then on I only found a couple more posts. There was no sign of any milestones.
At Whitebirk the signs of Blackburns approaching urbanisation are found, on one side there are fields and old stone barns and on the other side are modern retail parks.
On entering Blackburn there are a number of large mills some empty some used for offices (one by Granada TV). Near to Eanam Wharf there is an interesting wall with blocked up entrances. they have large pieces of red sandstone.
At Eanam Wharf I had the god fortune to look upwards and found the 57 mile post at the top of one of the pilars holding up the covered wharf! The old OS map didnt lie!
It is a short walk from Eanam Wharf to the station.