Today I completed the last part of my episodic walk along the canal stretching from Brighouse in West Yorkshire to Rochdale in Greater Manchester (but it is Lancashire really!), a total distance of a shade under thirty miles.
The various legs of my journey have been as follows:-
Brighouse to Elland (3 miles)
Elland to Sowerby Bridge (4 miles)
Sowerby Bridge to Hebden Bridge (6 miles)
Hebden Bridge to Todmorden (5 miles)
Todmorden to Littleborough (6 miles)
Littleborough to Rochdale (5.5 miles)
Much of the walking on the various legs of the journey has been through some stunning countryside, taking in the Calder Valley before ascending the Pennines and counting more locks than I have had hot dinners.
I always find it amusing that when canal boats approach a lock it is always the man who stays on board to navigate the boat whist sending his partner (usually a woman) ahead to open and close the lock. This can be heavy and strenuous work and when you are going through a series of locks in rapid succession (e.g. the leg from Todmorden to Littleborough) it can by physically demanding work. But hey! we live in an age of equality and diversity…………and now I stifle a little chuckle.
I have to confess that I was not particularly looking forward to the final leg into Rochdale as I had images of grim landscape, dilapidated old buildings and not a lot of impressive scenery. How wrong could I have been?
Unlike the previous section the canal is closed in for much of the journey with trees overhanging and housing right alongside the canal (both old and new build). However, there are open views at times, I saw a lady gathering buttercups in a field??? and a riding school where the horses were being fed. Some of the bridges across the canal are quite beautiful and their construction is a wonderful example of civil engineering.
I came across a group of workers alongside the canal who informed they were looking for a “leak” and it was somewhere in a ten yard stretch of the canal bank……….but they were not quite sure where. I wishes them well and continued onwards.
I was also passed by two men on an off road quad bike spraying the walls alongside the canal with weedkiller…………they were in for a long day.
Wildlife was plentiful alongside the canal, Canada Geese with families of geeselets (I have no idea what you call a group of young geese), Mallard ducks, as well as numerous other fairly common birds. I noticed also some very large fish in the canal and after consulting a local angler discovered they were a combination of Carp, Perch, Gudgeon and Bass alongside a few other varieties which had got into the water.
After about one and three quarter hours (and a lengthy stretch from the canal to the town centre) I arrived in Rochdale and took refuge in Costa Coffee for a welcome cappuccino. Rochdale may not have much of a reputation as a “must see” place to visit, but if you are ever in the town go and view the town hall, it is an absolutely magnificent piece of architecture.
So, my walk is complete and I must now seek out pastures new for further walks……..and there are still many more canals to explore!
Photographs (c) Kindadukish