Today’s canal run was a return to the end point of my first route. If that makes sense.
Unfortunately, I set off without the map or my water bottle, so we had to find a place to start by using a combination of memory, scant local knowledge and a good dollop of The Force. Parked up at the Ring O Bells pub, down to the canal at Bridge 34 and off we went towards Bridge 40.
I’d used my lo-fi Garmin (see below) to plot a route that was about 8 miles as an out and back. The first 5 miles were lovely, the last 2.89 were less so – I was thirsty, grumpy and my legs felt like lead (in contrast to the fantastic intervals I’d done the night before and had felt positively gazelle like).
The land around Ormskirk and Parbold is rich, fertile (apparently DEFRA categorise it as Grade One, which means that it is capable of growing a very wide range of agricultural and horticultural crops) and very flat. When I worked around the area, I found that it sometimes smelled of sprouts.
The long, flat stretches did drag at times, especially on the way out when we had no idea where the next landmark lay. On the other hand, it was very peaceful, felt like being in the middle of nowhere and we saw nature red in tooth and claw.
One of the benefits of canal running is that you see the world from a slightly different perspective and spot things that you wouldn’t see normally. At its most basic level, this translates as being able to nosy at people’s gardens. It’s always been quite an upwardly mobile area, Victorian mill owners from Manchester had their summer homes around there, and a lot of the canalside properties have suitably impressive gardens. This farm had a mini sculpture park, as well as this impressive Time Team style hut arrangement.
Halfway through, Ginge had an unexpected protein boost when he swallowed a fly. We considered dealing with this by him swallowing a spider, but realised that would need to be resolved by swallowing a bird, which would have been quite absurd. Having said that, we did weigh up the options of following the bird with a cat then a dog, before conceding that we would also need a horse and a cow and that way madness lay. So we just carried on.
Lack of water proved to be my undoing and it was with some relief that Bridge 34 came into view and I could go to the petrol station for emergency vimto.
Miles run = 7.89
Canal miles completed = 3.9
Total canal miles = 15.4/127
Bridges = 34-40