Canal Adventure #8 – Burnley to Oswaldtwistle

If nothing else, the last two weeks’ canal runs have taught me one thing – I won’t be signing up for the Marathon de Sables any time soon. I love the sun, it makes me happier when it’s out and it does a cracking job, but it really doesn’t like me. I burn to a crisp in an instant (come summer, it would be easier if I could just be dipped in a big vat of factor 30 to save a lot of time) and I’m a bit susceptible to heat exhaustion. Especially when I run.

Big Brother is watching you

Anyhow, today was another train adventure. We started at Church & Oswaldtwistle station, where the (hopefully) automatic tannoy system warned us that violence and vandalism wouldn’t be tolerated. Twenty minutes later, we were welcomed to Burnley by two policemen at Central station (and there were two more lurking further up the canal), so we’re not sure if we were looking particularly suspicious today.

The starting point - Bridge 131

Off we went, stopping at 0.66 miles to take this photo and to have an emergency delete of some photos from my camera.

A tribute to local industry

Then we hit the Burnley Embankment, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways and carries the Leeds-Liverpool for nearly a mile 60 feet above the rooftops of Burnley.

Level with the floodlights of Turf Moor

The next bit of excitement was the Gannow Tunnel – 500 metres of tunnel that demonstrates the canal builders approach that if we can’t go over it, we’ll have to go through it. Unfortunately the tunnel runs under a massive intersection of roads and Junction 10 of the M65. The result of this was a certain amount of bewildered wandering as we tried to get back down to the canal.

Welcome to the Gannow Tunnel

The North-East entrance

Fear of falling in prevented me from having a peek... this view

A hint that we weren't blundering around too blindly

T'other end

The canal builders were clever chaps, but they couldn’t tunnel through all of the obstacles in their way, resulting in the next stretch that is best described as soul destroying.

Wiggly. Bloody wiggly.

It’s a bit like queuing for a ride at Alton Towers, you can see the end but, even though it only looks a matter of a few yards, there’s a mile between you and your destination.

As the crow flies, because the crow has more sense than to follow the canal

Tiredness kicked in at mile 7. I had a brief second wind at mile 8 and by mile 9, I was feeling slightly nauseous and had gone deaf in my left ear (a bit like getting water in it). This is particularly annoying because (a) for me, it’s a precursor to fainting or throwing up and (b) because every breath that you wheeze begins to echo and is impossible to ignore. However, with hindsight and Google, the sad, sad tale of the Moorfield Colliery Disaster puts the discomfort of running in the warm into perspective.

We've come a long way in a century

A third wind took me through to mile 10 and this is where things grew increasingly sweary (and shivery). When I measured the route, it came out between 10 and 11 miles, and I focussed far more intently on the former to the point that I completely ignored the latter. Luckily, we had an excuse to stop and get excited by this:

The official halfway point between Leeds and Liverpool

Halfway is 63 and five-eighths miles since you ask. We’re not at the halfway mark ourselves, nearer to a third, but I’m not running back for another photo.


Finally, I can say honestly that I’ve never been so pleased to see a bridge as when Bridge 111D came into view. After the run, we drove home and Ginge bought me a Calippo which tasted of magic and happiness, but wasn’t quite enough to prevent me falling asleep for an hour.

Miles run = 11.3
Canal miles completed = 11.3
Total canal miles = 43.7/127*
Bridges = 131 to 111D