I felt it was about time that MDB had their first Canal Walk outing, so I decided a section of the Leeds Liverpool Canal between Gargrave and Skipton in Dad's beloved Dales would be a great start. The walk, as you'll see from the handy directional fingerpost is a 4 3/4 miles long.
My original plan was to start at Gargrave Train Station, walk to Skipton and then get the train back. This plan was altered owing to a train cancellation and a very long wait for the next one, so I chose, wisely, to walk back to Gargrave the way I came and back to to my car parked at Gargrave Train Station, so approximately the walk turned out to be a healthy 10 miler.
If you are a regular to MDB you may remember back in January I made comment about Dad's thoughts on Canals and the reason he had no interest in Fishing them. He was a Game Angler, a total dry fly purist and not at all interested in the type of course fishing undertaken on canal bank sides. He did however enjoy the ecology and the differing landscapes you find as you travel along these fascinating transport corridors. The Engineer in him loved the clever constructed nature of the locks and bridges, and the vessels that used them. His good friends Gill and Steve Cookson, own and run a narrowboat hotel 'Periwinkle', both Mum and Dad, on a number of occasions, had the pleasure to join them on board.
The weather was a real mixed bag of drizzle, full rain, wind, dry and lovely warm sunshine.... typical Dales weather then! I started the walk at Higherland Bridge (170), to be found at the top end of Gargrave's West Street.
The initial part of the walk is along a wide, level, towpath and is an easy stroll as you pass farm and light industrial buildings and a caravan park. The second bridge (171) mirrors the first and as you pass under it takes you on to a grass towpath, with a well worn narrow rut, which will predominate for most of the remainder of the walk.
Along the route Anglers are reminded of the overhead dangers, possibly another reason Dad wasn't a big fan of this form of fishing.
The amazing ingenuity of canal engineering can be seen as the canal spans, using a very short section of aqueduct, Eshton Beck. A short distance further on downstream, Eshton Beck joins the River Aire.
At the first set of Lock Gates I'm sure Dad was at work, he had found a way to make me laugh out loud, a narrowboat 'Helen's Drum', my little Sister's name, was passing through, Ta Dad!
The walk continues to take you passed fields with lovely views over the countryside.
Wildfowl everywhere, fields full of geese..... and hello ducky!
I passed numerous vessels, both moored and cruising, all with fabulous painted names.
As I walked into the outskirts of Skipton there is a short section of the path that takes you beside the road, a good safety barrier affords you a sense of comfort as the cars rush by.
The A629 thunders overhead.
A redbrick factory chimney greets you as you walk into Skipton
The late summer is the beginning of prime berry season. Along the route there are plentiful crops of dark shiny blue/black berries borne on the branches of the Elderberry (Sambucus nigra).
And bright red haws of the Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna).
The lovely town of Skipton welcomes you into the picturesque little Belmont Wharf, where another fingerpost reminds you of the number of miles you have travelled.... Fortunately it read the same as the first at Gargrave!
On my return to Gargrave along the towpath.... This party was having fun navigating Highgate Swing Bridge.
Gargrave Locks has been beautifully illuminated in gold, a short poetic phrase "Super High Way Super Wet Way and Super Slow Way Super Low Way" I thought this would be a good place to take five, rest MDB and study the words.
A great walk, suitable for most abilities. Canal towpath walks offer a variety of landscapes and are a great scenic conduit that guides a pedestrian easily into the heart of an urban area without the noise of a roadway. This short section of the Leeds Liverpool Canal towpath has illustrated to me what a wonderfully varied and accessible achievement it must be to walk all 127 miles of this popular long distance route. Cracking!
Off to buff MDB.... 'till next time.