Last night it rained. This morning I lay in bed listening to the swish of cars on the wet road outside and wondering how muddy the canal towpaths would be. The answer? Very.
Today we ventured east towards Blackburn. My home point on the canal is Johnson’s Hillock, which the milestone told me is 79 (and a quarter) miles from Leeds and 48 miles to Liverpool and I am convinced that once I have run to Blackburn, it’s only a few miles to Leeds (I know, I know).
We set off from The Boatyard at Riley Green – this was the scene of one of my more miserable Janathon runs. Luckily, today had much better weather, in fact the sunshine inspired a quick chorus of Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows from Ginge (a la Chief Wiggum) and some impromptu and mercifully brief Charlestoning from me.
The route that I had carefully mapped out with my
cutting edge technology piece of string was between Riley Green and Cherry Tree, just west of Blackburn. Unfortunately, I’d slept since then, I really don’t have a memory for maps or numbers and as such, I didn’t have a clue what number bridge we were running to.
Trusting the accuracy of the string, I reckoned that we should start paying attention to our surroundings after 3 miles. What we saw was destruction and demolition, followed (thankfully) by a handy canalside map, which told us that the bridge a few yards away was the turn around point.
This stretch of the canal is quite rural, which means that the towpath is largely unsurfaced. There’s a few stretches where it’s firm under foot, but the majority of the course is mud, mud and more mud. Once again, I didn’t mind the puddles, but it took it out of my legs and I kept resorting to flailing my arms around in an attempt to stay upright. Ginge nearly fell in twice. As we squelched and slid our way along, Ginge suggested that we should run past our starting point to Bridge 90, which would connect up our Johnson’s Hillock run, instead of leaving a gap (caused by poor planning on my part if you can believe that).
So at 6 and a bit miles, we carried on past Bridge 91A and under Bridge 91AA which carries the M65 over the canal.
Now, I have to admit that a hint of obsessiveness came out on this run. I didn’t think that I had many rules to this project, but I was quite flustered at the thought of starting at an A bridge, as this means that it wasn’t an original canal bridge and therefore somehow didn’t count. Ginge eventually talked me down, pointing out that it meant that the route worked better logistically as we couldn’t park at any of the round numbers (the new bridges tend to be on newer roads, rather than farm tracks or in the middle of nowhere).
On the way back, we passed our first moving canal boat.
And at the end of it all, my new trainers were properly seasoned. Unfortunately, we then had to go and do some shopping. People did stare.
Miles run = 8
Canal miles completed = 4
Total canal miles = 19.4/127
Bridges = 91A (bah) – 95 – 90 – 91A