The colours of the flora and fauna alongside the canal was wonderful and provided me with some excellent photographic opportunities. As I wandered along the towpath I met joggers, serious runners and people just out for a walk or being taken for a walk by their dogs!
There is a wide variety of birdlife along side the canal and I was fortunate enough to see a full-grown heron stood very still in a stream that runs parallel with the canal. It was only when it moved that it caught me eye.
There are many little hamlets set into the Pennine hills and the tracks that lead to these hamlets are often very rough and more importantly narrow. It is not uncommon to find drivers of large vehicles trying to make their way up these narrow tracks and getting stuck. So when I saw a sign in a field that said, “Switch off satnav and engage brain” I couldn’t help but laugh.
Upon arriving in Slawet (the name the locals call it) I decamped to the coffee shop for a welcome cappuccino before starting my return journey.
As I passed the canal basin I saw a couple of barges moored up, one in fact was beginning to start its journey along the canal through to Huddersfield. The stretch from Slawet back to Wellhouse is less than two miles but there are five locks to be navigated and it is quite a sight seeing large barges drop down once the water is emptied form the lock.
I followed the barge as it is only allowed to travel at 4mph and helped with opening the lock gates (which are extremely heavy) at several locks. Diane and Ivor, the owners of the barge had travelled up from the Churnet Valley and were heading eastwards. What an idyllic life when the weather is so beautiful…………
I stood on one of the little bridges across the canal and eventually waived goodbye to them as they headed off for the next set of locks further along the canal.
So having done my “manual labour” for the day I headed home contemplating a new long-term career………….