- Date: 11 August 2022
- Distance: 15 Miles
- Start: Leeds
Day 1, Leeds to Shipley
The idea was formed to walk along the Leeds to Liverpool canal, in two separate sessions to sample the industrial historical landscape. Four of us travelled by train up to Leeds and booked into an hotel.
This morning saw the four of us – Lesley, Anne, Dulcia and myself setting off along the canal. What we hadn’t bargained on was the sweltering temperature. We set off along the canal admiring the wonderful reflections of the old buildings in the water and the peacefulness of the area. The beauty was all around us in the history of the area, in the buildings and the quietness of the canal itself.
The route took us along the tow path which also doubles as a National Cycle path, so you can imagine the scenario – 4 ramblers of a certain age being bombarded by a veritable mass of cyclists as they made their way along the track! This eased out the further along the way, but there was a steady thrum of wheels coming towards us or creeping up from behind.
Staircase locks abounded along the canal. The most consisted of three interlocking locks, generally two, and showed the height difference that the canal makers had to deal with.
Unusually not many narrow boats were making their way along the waterway, maybe due to the fact that some canals are having to close due to lack of water and they would worry that they might not be able to get back. This gave us a quieter feel to the day but deprived us of the usual lively banter with the boat owners.
Underfoot it alternated between tarmac and gravel, very little was the usual hard packed earth that I would associate with a towpath. We walked on past locks, houses, fields, nature reserves. At one stage the remains of Kirkstall Abbey rose above its surroundings to delight us. Aside from the locks we encountered several swing bridges. These required the relevant key to unlock them to allow a narrow boat to open them, go past, shut the bridge and then continue on their way, an irritating obstruction on their journey.
Eventually we reached the much anticipated Apperley Bridge! This has been recommended to us by a member of staff at the hotel, it evidently had a good cafe, so we had to sample
it. She was right, it was a good cafe. We sat in the shade, gratefully sipping cooling drinks and eating our lunch, having a much needed break and respite from the relentless sun.
By this time we had walked around 10 miles, plenty of exercise on such an extremely hot day but…….we made the decision to alter our end goal as it made catching the train back to Leeds easier.
We continued in along the tow path grateful for the trees that overhung the path and walked almost another 5 miles to Shipley where we could catch the train. Trying to use a ticket machine that seemed to have overheated in the extreme sun did not make the job of purchasing train tickets very simple. Eventually, after much persistence tickets were obtained and we gratefully took the train journey back to our start passing many of the places that we had walked that day.
It was a delight to return to our hotel, have a refreshing cup of tea and a shower, ready for more discoveries tomorrow.
Author and Photographer: Lynne Burge