Juneathon Day 5: Canal Adventure #9 – Burscough Bridge to Halsall

For starters, this Juneathon episode has me slightly twitchy because I have a standard format for my Juneathon post titles and a standard format for my canal running post titles. Today I have had to combine the two and I’m not convinced that it works as a title. Clunkiness aside, today was a good day. I had been out for lunch with my running friend (feeling slightly weird that I wasn’t wearing any kind of lycra or wicking fabrics) and had fuelled up on quiche (we both stared longingly at the pudding menu but resisted temptation) before going home and collecting Ginge for a drive out into the countryside and a spot of canal running.

We’ve been concentrating on going out eastwards towards Yorkshire, but we’re past day trips for that side now (we’ve got a few canal camping trips planned to get those done) so it’s back to West Lancashire to pick up where we left off in the sunshine at Bridge 28. Today was much more of a grey day, though it had stopped raining by the time we set off.

Bridge 28 - the start

The pub that we parked in had this in the beer garden. I think that it’s some kind of children’s plaything, possibly that’s been retrieved from a Communist state during the Cold War.

It's fun kids. No, really, it is.

Just yards after setting off, I pulled off one of my sudden stops that normally cause Ginge to nearly fall in the canal – it was well worth it to tiptoe past these sleeping ducks.

Sleepy ducks

The ducks were rapidly followed up by these chaps – nearly but not quite grown up coots (the waterfowl theme continues later in an oh so cute kind of way).

Teenage coots

As we were doing a there and back run, I didn’t take many photos on the way out and it gave us chance to get a nice pace going (stopping to take photos doesn’t help in getting into a rhythm) and soon enough we were at the halfway point (after a mild bit of heckling from a group of lads in a beer garden, who then thanked us politely as we stood to one side to let them pass on their bikes a few minutes later. Pah.

Bridge 21A - the turnaround point

There were lots of moorings along this stretch, but I think these were the two most interesting. Thor and The Pride of Sefton, the latter is is a barge converted to make the canal accessible for people with disabilities.

Thor

The Pride of Sefton

This area is still very agricultural and there probably hasn’t been that many changes over the years. For canal runners, the best thing about this is that there are few new bridges (and so there are few annoying As, Bs or anything elses between the round numbers), this combined with their even spacing and the canal’s straight route meant that the miles ticked quickly by.

The nicest bridge of the run

We passed this plaque marking the place where the building of the Leeds & Liverpool canal formally began and this is marked with an information board and sculpture just after.

Marking a little bit of history

Scupture

After we’d stopped to take a photo of this bird house…

A room with a view

…Ginge spotted these little lovelies – aren’t they cute?

All together now...Awwwwwwww.

And I realised just how close we are to the Liverpool end of this escapade.

Gulp.

Miles run = 8
Canal miles completed = 4
Total canal miles = 62.6/127*
Bridges = 28 to 21A

*So very nearly halfway!

 

Canal Adventure #8 – Burnley to Salterforth and East Marton to Salterforth

When I set out to run all 127 and a quarter miles of the Leeds-Liverpool canal, it didn’t really occur to me that I would have to do some actual planning. God only knows how I thought that I would manage to balance the logistics of (a) not being able to run that far and (b) running in places that are far away, but it’s only this week that I’ve actually made A Plan to do the Here Be Dragons section of the run (i.e. Yorkshire).

And so, ladies and gentlemen, let me present the first of several camping and canal running expeditions as we venture across the Pennines.

FRIDAY
Home from work, change clothes, pack car, drive a whole 50 minutes up the M65 to Salterforth, which is to be our home for the next 2 days. It’s grey and a bit breezy. We’ve not put the tent up for nearly twelve months, so it all becomes a bit haphazard. I fling tent parts around with wild abandon, while Ginge is methodical and organised with his conventional approach of putting the groundsheet  under the inner tent and using pegs to stop it flying away…. Once it’s up and everything’s inside, we nip to the shop to pick up things that we’ve forgotten (something of a tradition when we go away), come home, have tea and a glass of wine before settling down to our first night on the air mattress.

Home sweet home

SATURDAY – Burnley to Salterforth
One of the best sounds in the world is rain pitter pattering down on canvas. More specifically, one of the best sounds in the world is rain pitter pattering down on canvas when you’re warm and dry in the tent, possibly with a cup of tea and some flapjack. When you wake up to the tent leaning sideways in the wind and the rain and you realise that you have to go out and run an unknown distance along a canal because that’s the daft idea that you had back in February…let’s just say that it’s not quite as romantic.

I think the sturdiness of the bus shelter reflects the usual sort of weather round these parts

Once again, we were relying on public transport to maximise our mileage, this time catching the number 28 bus to Burnley whilst dressed in our running kit and clutching bottles of water and Powerade. Needless to say, we were the only people on the bus who had picked this look out of the wardrobe that morning.

Bridge 131 - the beginning

Last time we had visited Bridge 131, it had been a gloriously sunny day and I had spent much of the run complaining that I was too hot. There were to be no such complaints this week. Instead, I embraced the ridiculous plan and the fact that we were presented with the choice of run or, well, run. We had one-way bus tickets, a whole £2 to our name and we weren’t entirely certain how far away from home we were. Ah well. Off we went and were treated to a set of lovely mosaics…

These four were my favourites

…four different walks (plants, birds, bridges, locks) illustrated with tiles made by local schools…

This is a spider

…a warning for speed demons…

No worries there...

… and Foulridge Tunnel.

The Foulridge Tunnel

The Foulridge Tunnel is a mile long and is at the summit of the canal. There is no towpath through the tunnel – barges would have been pushed through by the crew lying on their backs and ‘legging’ the boat along the tunnel’s roof (until the advent of steam tugs). In 1912 a cow fell in the canal, swam through the tunnel, emerged the other end and was revived with some brandy at a local pub. The cow’s name was Buttercup.

Legally, all cows must be called Buttercup or Daisy. At a push, Ermintrude.

It turns out that the route was 9.75 miles and we were both ready for a shower (which was worth the £1 token) and a sausage butty when we saw Bridge 151 at the Anchor pub. The rest of the afternoon was spent pottering around the tent and enjoying a (several) very nice pint(s) back at the Anchor (Jennings Cumberland for me, Theakston’s Lightfoot for Ginge). The Anchor also does very good pub food and has stalactites in the cellar – what more can you ask for in a pub?

SUNDAY – East Marton to Salterforth
We awoke to the same sound as the previous day, only louder. Kit on, banana eaten, tent packed up to be off site by 11, in the car, windscreen wipers on… The previous day, Ginge and I had discussed whether he wants to run the entire length of the canal. So far he’s done all but a few miles with me and I think that it’s mad that he’ll end up running nearly but not quite all of it. He says that it’s my daft idea and he’s just there for moral support, safety and logistical reasons. Normally I would argue, but it was peeing down and I could either run a pointless 5 miles in a 10 mile there and back, or be dropped off and run 5 miles to meet Ginge running the other way. No contest. I was dropped off at Bridge 162, which wasn’t half as interesting as the double arched bridge, Bridge 161.

It's a bridge, but it's two bridges!

Duck!

Rain!

Drizzle!

Locks!

Bridge 151 again! A blessed relief. I looked like a drowned rat.

I can’t really describe this run without running the risk of sounding whingey. It rained non-stop, I was running into the wind and if I could have weaseled out of it, I probably would have done. Having said that, everyone that I passed (on foot or on boats) responded to my cheery if damp “Good mornings!” and I didn’t even consider punching the man who shouted “You must be keen!”. The route took me past an important milestone as it was the first time that I’d set foot into Yorkshire, although I was a bit disappointed that there was nothing to show where this was – these are two counties that don’t like to see a boundary unmarked – but it was somewhere between bridges 149  and 148.

Despite the weather, we had a fantastic time and I’m looking forward to the next weekend adventure that will take us past Skipton and even further into Yorkshire – it might even be part of Juneathon!

Garmin maps: Burnley to Salterforth and East Marton to Salterforth.

Miles run = 14.9
Canal miles completed = 14.9
Total canal miles = 58.6/127*
Bridges = 131 to 162

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...

....at 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.

Sanctuary!

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

Canal adventure #7 – Parbold to Burscough Bridge

After a couple of weekends with no towpaths, we got back on track with the canal miles and decided to resume our westward journey. We started from Bridge 34 (the starting point for Canal Adventure #4) and did an out and back to Bridge 28, four miles away. One of the things that I’ve looked forward to about this project is seeing the weather and seasons change as we go. It was a lovely day for Adventure 4, the sun was shining and the sky was blue, but comparing the photos (with a month between them), April brought a deeper blue and a brighter sun.

Bridge 34 - March

Bridge 34 - April

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