He's Off Again!....
How do you follow a walk from top to bottom of the country? - that's the dilemma Doug was facing. With the Christmas festivities over, he was getting itchy feet again.
With the determination to continue walking and raising money for our troops, he hit on a new plan. During his walk from John O'Groats to Lands End, he passed several Canals. With his Sapper background, he started to take an interest in the way they were built and the uses they were put to. He soon found out that, since the advent of trains and better road transport links, our British canals were falling into disrepair. Whilst many are still in use, albeit for leisure and pleasure, cut-backs in spending to restore them was resulting in the need for local action. Many volunteer groups now exist - spending their time and effort bringing our canals back to their former glory.
Doug decided to target the canals of the UK as his next walking adventure - collecting for the troops along the way but also helping to raise the profile of the work being done to restore our industrial heritage.
This is the story of his travels along the Canals........
January 2012- The Exeter Ship Canal
The start of January saw Doug begin his marathon Canal Walks. Setting off from Haven Banks, Exeter, Kiana walking, Elie and Noah cycling and Yasmin and Oscar scooting. Jo, Trev and Sue drove to meet up with them and to walk to the Double Locks.
His journey continued with Noah still cycling and Oscar still scooting all the way to the end of the canal at Turf Locks. The rest of the crew loaded into the cars and went to meet them. As there was no access, they had to walk even further to meet the cars at Powderham Church.
February 2012 Bridgwater and Taunton Canal
On 20th February we made our way to Taunton, staying at Tom Moggs Inn on the Somerset Levels. On 21st February we met John and Maggie Ralston who were helping us to collect in Taunton and we were all
welcomed by the Mayor of Taunton Steven Brooks and his P.A. Sharon. After having coffee and biscuits and photo shoot, we all made our way up to the town centre. Mayor Brooks and Sharon helped us to collect in the town, taking Doug to Somerset Sound Offices for a radio interview. We had a successful day, thanks to Mayor Brooks, Sharon and John and Maggie. Back at Tom Moggs Inn we met Doug’s brother Brian who was walking the Bridgwater to Taunton Canal with him.
Wednesday dawned. The Mayor of Bridgwater Pat Parker was going to meet us and set them off but was unfortunately was unwell. The Admirals Landing opened up early for us to have coffee before the start. Colour Sgt. Geoff Power had organised some troops from Norton Fitzwarren to walk with Doug and Brian. After the obligatory photo shoot, they set off from the canal basin in Bridgwater. The backup car went to meet them at The Boat and Anchor, when it started raining. Next stop Maunsel Locks to stop for lunch. Doug checked the route for Sue to follow and when he returned from the car park the troops and Brian were not in sight! When asked why they hadn’t waited they thought Doug was going to get in the car and drive off. Obviously they didn’t know him very well!! Doug soon caught up and they made their way to Taunton.
The Mayor, Sharon, Sharon’s daughter and Sue met them near the Somerset Cricket Ground. Another photo!! On the whole a good day even though wet. Brian left us and on Thursday we were in Bridgwater.
Mayor Pat Parker and Phil May, a member of both the British Legion and Royal Engineers Association, met us and helped to collect. The Management of Angel Place Shopping Centre kindly gave us permission to collect there.
We raised over £500 in the two towns. A good result. Many thanks to all who helped and also to those who generously gave to Help for Heroes.
March 2012 Birmingham and The Grand Union Canal
On March 14th we set off on the perilous journey into the unknown of the underworld, which is the canal network of Birmingham. I call it the underworld because I spent days walking in and around the city centre, barely meeting a soul other
than in a small area of cafes and bars slap bang in the middle of town, spending my days in a below street level world that I’m sure most brummies do not know exists. I covered a large section of the city network and struck out in the following directions. From Salford Junction to the south on both the Birmingham and Grand Union Canals as far as Hopwood and Lapworth (Kingswood Junction) respectively and from King’s Norton Junction to Lapworth.
To the south west completed Dudley No 2 Canal, Bumble Hole branch, Dudley No 1 Canal, Stourbridge Canal and Stourbridge Arm and walked all spurs along the way, joining the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal at Stourton Junction and continuing all the way to Stourport completed the holiday!! by walking from Worcester to Droitwich on the Worcester Birmingham Canal.
An overall distance of approx. 110 miles arriving home on 25th March tired but happy to have raised over £1800 for the cause with our two collections at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Worcester city centre.
April 2012 Liskeard to Looe Canal
Before our trip to Liskeard we spent two days collecting at Morrisons in Plymouth - well worth the effort - over £1,000 raised.
On Wednesday 4th April in the company of members of Liskeard and Looe Rotary Club we walked the defunct and difficult to find
Liskeard to Looe Canal, approx 8 miles to Looe and enjoyed a train ride back to Liskeard.
During our visit, we were particularly well looked after by the Liskeard and Looe Rotary Club (special thanks to Tony and Liz Piper).
This branch of the Rotary have a keen interest in the Canal as they are currently trying to get permission to restore one or more of the disintegrated original locks - we wish them the very best of luck!
On the 5th (a bitterly cold day) we carried out a short collection in Liskeard and headed home
April 2012 Tiverton Canal - The Grand Western Canal
On Friday 6th April Doug walked the Tiverton Canal with the Mayor of Tiverton, Councillor Lewis Clarke and daughter Debbie. They had the photo shoot for the local paper, also included in a photo was a party of girls who were having a "hen party"! Doug was wished 'good luck' with his endeavours by the owner of the Tiverton Canal Barge, another photo!
Saturday saw us in Tiverton for a collection. We were helped by cadets from the Tiverton Detachment from A Company under their Commander Major McColm, with their help we raised £600.
April 2012 - Brecon/Monmouthshire Canal
I started my canal walks in South Wales on 16th April at Brecon to begin the Brecon/Monmouthshire Canal. Accompanied on the first leg to Pencelli by Sue and Pauline, a friend of many years who we were staying with for the week.
I carried on to Llangattock Wharf, a distance of some 14 miles. The next day onward to Pontymoel, Sue meeting up at various places when the road allowed. The scenery had been beautiful including tabletop mountains and a lot of wildlife on the canals. Then from Pontymoel to Newport, passing much restoration work to defunct locks. 19th April saw us driving up to Cwmcarn to walk the Crumlin Arm, which to the north was inaccessible due to having been filled in for building and industrial use, but reading about the tragic history in this area made us think how hard life was in the past. Walking on past Fourteen Locks, which has a lot of restoration done and has a visitor centre, finishing at Newport Junction just by the motorway!
April 2012 - Swansea Canal
Friday 20th – no canals, time to see some of the sights. We went to Carleon, weather once again rain, hail and some dry patches!! We walked around the Amphitheatre and went to the Museum and baths well worth a visit.
On Saturday we met with the Mayor of Newport, Councillor Margaret Cornelious and then did a street collection with the help of our friend Pauline. We raised over £600 - don’t know if we were helped by the fact that the Ghurkhas were there getting signatures for their petition for widows pension rights!
Monday (Swansea canal) saw us meeting up with three members of Swansea Valley Rotary Club at Clydach. David walked to Pontardawe where Winford met us and he walked on to the end. In the afternoon Sue and I travelled over to Tonna, I walked south on the Tennant Canal to where it petered out on the edge of Swansea, passing the magnificent ruin of Neath Abbey. Had my usual adventure on one section about 1 mile, where the towpath became very difficult where diggers had been working and left deep water filled ruts leaving it very slippery where I had to walk along the waters’ edge culminating in my arrival at a bridge with no towpath and faced by a newly constructed high bank which made me think they didn’t want me to go any further. Up and over and carry on to the end!!
April 2012 - Neath & Tennant Canals
24th April: Found northern end of Neath Canal near Glyn-Neath and met Sue at Resolven. Set off again after sheltering in the car from torrential hail storm, followed path (when canal disappeared) which followed river, so diverted back to line of
canal which was barely visible but followed it across fields and marshland through a water filled dyke, through woods and brambles before climbing over a 6 foot wall to get back on the road, which had been the other side of the canal. Carried on again in torrential rain, cut down across a field to get back on track and continue to where the canal terminates at the estuary across the water from Swansea, meeting up with Sue sat in McDonalds enjoying numerous cups of coffee.
Wednesday saw us collecting in Swansea after meeting with the Lord Mayor, Ioan Richard and the Lady Mayoress, in the Mayor’s Mansion House for tea and cake. With the help of Winford from the Swansea Valley Rotary Club we collected £272. In the evening we were invited to the Swansea Valley Club for dinner at their meeting. Many thanks to them all for their generosity in donations and for giving us such a fun evening!!
On Friday we were once again meeting in the Mayors Parlour, Mayor of Neath Port Talbot County Borough, Councillor Harry Bebell and the Lady Mayoress, for tea/coffee and welsh cakes. Our last collection on this trip, Pauline and Winford helped us again, weather not too good again, and so went to Morrison’s who kindly allowed us to collect in their foyer. We raised a total of £440. Total raised in South Wales was over £1300.
Canals in South Wales completed!!! Approximately 72miles and approx 225 miles to date.
May 2012 Birmingham/Fazley, Tame Valley, Wyrley and Essington and Worcester-Birmingham Canals
May 14th – After arriving in Bridgnorth to stay with a friend, I commenced walking at Minworth on the Birmingham/Fazley Canal and walked north west to Spaghetti Junction and joined Tame Valley Canal, passed Rushall Canal, turned left at Doebank
Junction on Wednesbury Old Canal, there was no access to Ocker Hill or Ridgacre branches and competed the walk at Pudding Green Junction to link with the point reached on March 17th on my previous visit to the Birmingham area. I then caught the bus and train to Bridgnorth where I was staying. I had walked 19 miles approx.
May 15th – I was dropped off at Rushall Jct, walked to Cathills Jct on Rushalll Canal, turned left on Wyrley and Essington Canal past Pelsall Jct (Cannock extension) to Birchills Jct, another 17 miles completed.
May 16th – I began at Doebank Jct, headed north on Walsall Canal, walked accessible spurs and back including Walsall Town Arm, up Walsall locks , past Birdills Jct on to Wyrley and Essington Canal to Sneyd Jct . There was no access to the spur piped under the A4124 , I will check the other side later, so I carried on to Horsley Fields Jct, turning right on Birmingham Canal, down Wolverhampton Locks to Aldersley Jct, turned left on Staff and Worcester Canal finishing at Mermaid Inn. Another 22 miles making 58 miles on the trip and 283 miles to date.
May 17th saw me collecting at Sainsbury’s in Kidderminster, kindly arranged by my sister-in-law Lynn who had previously walked with me.
May 18th – Sue joined me and I walked from Droitwich to Hopwood to complete the Worcester-Birmingham and then we went off to Coventry for an Army Reunion
May 2012 The Scottish Canals.....
May 21st – We travelled up to Ratho near Edinburgh yesterday and today we caught a bus into the City. We visited the Castle and Carlton Hill, what a beautiful city, the architecture is very impressive and after having my photo taken with a piper I
walked back to Ratho along the Union Canal, the weather was great, the winter clothes stayed packed in the car!
May 22nd – We collected in the Gyle at Morrisons and Marks and Spencers and raised £902 this was with the help of two members of Currie Balerno Rotary Club.
May 23rd – Set off from Ratho on a blazing hot day heading towards Falkirk. The Union Canal is very picturesque and peaceful except when being buzzed by aircraft coming in to land at Edinburgh airport. Almond Aqueduct was very impressive and very high with spectacular views including an amazing viaduct possibly the longest I’ve ever seen where on one section I counted at least 40 arches. About 8 miles from Falkirk I crossed Avon River by another aqueduct. I continued past Linlithgow and terminated the days walk at Polmont, was shattered but 19miles approx completed, the heat was a real challenge.
May 24th - Travelled to Falkirk where we were being given accommodation at the Cladan by the Falkirk Council, our grateful thanks go to the Provost Mr Pat Reid and Councillor Robert Spears. We were guests of Falkirk Rotary Club at their lunch, many thanks to them. Particular thanks to Robert Spears who was a great help to us. We spent some time collecting in Falkirk as well.
May 25th – I completed the Union Canal from Polmont to the amazing Falkirk Wheel passing through happy smiley end and sad face end of Falkirk Tunnel and Rough Castle tunnel. We found the start of Forth/Clyde canal at Grangemouth, guided by our host Councillor Robert Spears R.E. which was on private Yacht Club land which we were given access to but no canal to walk, a new section is to be dug soon to replace that lost to development. I joined the canal west of M9 and walked to Falkirk Wheel and on to Bonneybridge where Bob and Sue met me.
May 26th – We were picked up from the Hotel and taken to the Seagull Trust and transported by canal boat to Falkirk Wheel where we were lowered to the canal basin and I was presented with a certificate for briefly taking the wheel of the boat. What a feat of engineering, it is powered by the equivalent of boiling 8 kettles! We were involved with the Seagull Trust who were hosting a fund raising event for Rett Syndrome. Falkirk Wheel’s centre manager granted permission to collect on site. Highlights of the day included a boat load of over exuberant women who insisted on plying me with money and wine!! Wine was pretty well resisted!! The true highlight of the day was when we were stopped by an ex soldier who thanked us profusely for what we were doing and explained that he had served in Northern Ireland 30 years ago and had suffered post traumatic stress ever since with virtually no help or treatment until Help for Heroes came to his assistance.
May 27th – Met up with Rett Syndrome group again as they set off to complete their coast to coast fund raising and awareness raising exercise, we wished them well and saw them on their way as they ascended the Falkirk Wheel. I walked from Kilsyth to Bonneybridge on the Forth & Clyde Canal then travelled to Crieff, before we left we made an impromptu collection at Underdown Locks, then later stopped for afternoon tea, a wee cakie of course, at Stuart Crystal in Crieff and of course got permission to make another collection, the total from both venues was a generous £55. Had our evening meal at a Thai restaurant, my Thai greeting was met with complete silence, meal was good and we couldn’t believe that the sun was still so hot at 8.30 in the evening.
May 28th – Bade farewell to the genial Irish host Mike and drove up to Inverness, stunning views, stopped in Pitlochry on the way and passed the B & B near Dalwinnie where we stayed last year. Couldn’t believe that was still some snow on the mountains. We located the start of the Caledonian Canal in Inverness and walked the first section to Lock Defour .
May 29th – Sue and I walked the Dingwall Canal both ways then I walked from Fort Augustus to Ouich Bridge the start of the Ouich Loch, then from the swing bridge to Laggan Locks. We visited the Commando Memorial and then on to Fort William, arriving at the Hotel Alexandra, where we were hosted by Lochaber Rotary Club for 3 days for which we are very grateful.
May 30th – I commenced walk at Gairlochy at the end of Loch Lochy and continued on my way along the beautiful Caledonian Canal down the stunning Great Glen and arrived delighted at Neptune’s Staircase where Sue was waiting and I continued to the end of the canal where it entered Loch Eic at Caol. Caledonian Canal completed.
May 31st – The weather had worsened when we boarded the train to go to Mallaig going over the Glenfinnan Viaduct. We were going to go on the Jacobean Steam Train but the cost was so high we went on the ordinary train, still the same scenery, which was great and the sun came out in the afternoon, the day was finished off listening to a singer in the evening in the Hotel, playing lots of old favourites, wasn’t spoilt by my spectacular spilling of my beer, too much enthusiastic tapping in time to the music!!
June 1st - Made our way down to walk the Crinan Canal near Lochgilphead. We passed through fantastic scenery, lochs, mountains, everything. Glen Coe was spectacular.
June 2nd – I walked the 9 mile Crinan Canal. A lovely peaceful walk with stunning views, another one completed some bits with Sue.
June 3rd –Had a day sightseeing. Weather lovely again, travelled down to Tarbert, a beautiful fishing village which was holding a sailing event, also visited St Colomba’s Cave.
June 4th We drove to Coatbridge and met up with Rotarian Gavin Gordon who directed us to and walked with me on the odd bits of the Monkland Canal that remain, approx 4 miles. Later I walked from Kilsyth to Kirkintilloch on the Forth and Clyde Canal.
June 5th - With much help from Rotarian David Miller and his Mum, who were hosting us for two days, David gave us much guidance and drove me to Kirkintilloch to continue my walk to Glasgow then picked me up at the end of the Glasgow Arm and returned me to MaryHill Jct, where I continued my walk to Bowling where I completed both the Forth and Clyde Canal and the canal network of Scotland. Making a total of approx 100 miles in Scotland and 396 miles to date.
We had a fantastic time in Scotland, the scenery was spectacular, the people warm and generous, we appreciated all the help that was given to us and the local help and knowledge we were given, without which we would have struggled. We raised £1,530 in Scotland and £1,972 overall on our trip.
June 2012 - Tavistock Canal
Stage One: Walked with John Ralston from Morwellham Quay through the woods, up a steep incline to find the end of the tunnel (no towpath or other access)
Stage Two: Again with John, we located a viaduct which we knew the canal went
under but no sign of it. So we knocked on the door at the farm to ask for directions, the farmer took us up across the field to show us where the canal traversed the side of the hill and gave us permission to use his land for access. John and I walked to the tunnel and back.
Stage Three: On the following Friday, 29th June, we met up with Ashley, Maggie’s cousin, at the Viaduct and walked to Tavistock Wharf.
We collected in Tavistock, met the Mayor Councillor Anne Johnson for tea and coffee in the Mayors Parlour, with the help of the Lions and Maggie and John Ralston we collected nearly £500. 400 miles now completed.
The Olympic Experience!
August 31st: Travelled up to that there London calling in at Brentford on the way to check out where the Grand Union Canal meets the river Thames for future reference.
September 1st & 2nd attended the fantastic Paralympics seeing David Wier and Aled Davies win gold for G.B. amongst many stunning achievements on the day.
September 3rd: Letting the train take the strain, I travelled across London to Hayes & Hartington station and with help from a very kindly and ancient Indian gentleman I located the start of my days walk at Bulls Bridge on the Grand Union Canal and walked the Paddington Arm as far as Kensal Green where I started my train journey back to Romford where we were staying.
September 4th: Accompanied by Sue took the train to Kensal Green and we walked together to Paddington Basins passing Little Venice on the way. Sue took the train to Kings Cross (London Canal Museum) whilst I continued my walk on the Regents Canal through the park passing many colonial type mansions and Regents Park Zoo and on through delightful Camden Locks and met Sue at the Museum. After telling Sue to visit Camden Locks I continued on my merry way. I bypassed the Islington Tunnel (no towpath) and on through Canary Wharf to terminate at Limehouse Basin. Train back to Romford, total for 2 days 22 miles.
London Canal Pictures.....
September 24th: Up to Bridgenorth, John, a friend, drove me about in very heavy rain to complete sections in Birmingham and Wolverhampton, missed out previously. First the Ridgacre branch of the Wednesday old Canal to Black Lake and back 2 miles then drove on to Factory Locks on the Birmingham Main Line to complete the walk to Horseley Fields Junction, taking in the Wednesday Oak Loop to Bradley Workshops, approx. 8 miles thus 10 miles in total.
Sept. 25th; Dropped off at Great Haywood Junction i.e. Trent/Mersey – Staffs & Worcester and walked to Hatherton Spur not accessible, private Marina but skirted round said marina and relocated access point and continued until it petered out and retraced my steps to be picked up. Once again soaked through. Canal appeared to terminate in the middle of nowhere but my thought is it originally linked to the Lichfield Canal or was in fact the Lichfield until dissected by the M6 – approx 17 miles walked.
Sept 26th: Shirtsleeve order today, carried coat and jumpers just in case but not needed. One mistake made was the first day I didn’t carry shorts and they were needed – hey-ho. Dropped off at Autherley Junction, had to walk to Aldersley Junction and back then on to Hatherton Junction to complete yesterdays trek. Approx 8 miles. Picked up and taken to Mermaid Inn where I terminated on May 16th and walked on to Stourton which completed Staff/Worcester Canal approx 10 miles (18 miles today) Stayed dry all day and the skies opened as I settled in John’s car.
27th Sept: Dropped at Wheaton Aston on the Shropshire Union (Birmingham Liverpool Canal) and walked back to Autherley Junction at Wolves passing over Stretton Aqueduct – approx 9 miles. Travelled to spend the night with Sue and Harry and Babs Brittain at the Chateau Impney in Droitwich, Harry being an old army friend.
28th September: Harry and I travelled with the girls to start of the Droitwich Canal just north of Worcester and found the first lock submerged under River Severn floodwater, after a long detour we got to the other side of the canal and got to within a few yards of the start of the canal and proceeded to walk on very muddy paths along the Droitwich Canal, through the town and on to Hanbury Wharf the junction with the Birmingham/Worcester Canal. Approx 8 miles – total to date 484 miles
29th Sept: After a good night’s bevy we set off for Minworth where I finished on May 4th. Babs and I set off from Minworth heading towards Tamwoth and were joined by Harry 3 miles out and the three of us continued together to Drayton Manor where Babs joined Sue to go and savour the delights of Tamwoth, while Harry and I joined the Coventry Canal and continued through Polesworth and on to Bridge 49. Approx 17 miles
30th Sept: Sue and I set off for Bridge 49 to continue walk on Coventry Canal, skirted around Atherstone and Nuneaton passed overgrown inaccessible spur to the right (check other side later) continued past Ashby de-la-zouch Canal(Marston Junction) and continued on to Hawkesbury Junction where Sue became unlost with local help and picked me up . approx 15 miles
1st October: Took the bus into Coventry and walked to canal basin, set off the six miles to Hawkesbury Junction and joined the Oxford Canal, met Sue at Ansty and again at Stretton under Fosse, stopped for me sarnies i.e. bread and water! Carried on, spur at Bridge 41 private marina, walked on to Bridge 58 and back to Rugby Wharf to end day, after of course passing through Newbold Tunnel with its array of purple and green lights being both beautiful and eerie at the same time. Approx 19 miles (approx 536 miles to date)
2nd October: Collected in Rugby assisted by Lions, raised £445.
3rd October: Much kerfuffle to find end of spur off Oxford Canal at Bridge 58 at Rugby. After wending our way through industrial estates, country lanes and a farm track that was barely suitable for tractors, let alone our car we had to turn around in a field and renegotiate the lane. On the way back after getting distracted I crunched the underside of the car on a rather unforgiving stone, not a good start to the day. We waved down a postie for advice who in turn waved down Fred! Between them they didn’t know a lot but after much consultation with us, because Fred remembered a wooden bridge at the bottom of a field and I identified a hedgerow similar to a lot of canals, I set intrepidly off across the fields and low and behold discovered the exact point at the end of the canal “with no name” that I required. 2 miles later I was at the point that I finished at 2 days before. Met Sue 2 miles later and decided where to meet, half an hour later she rang to say she had taken a circular route and ended up back where she started so we agreed to meet further down the line which worked out O.K. Later when due to meet at Braunston, Sue lost phone signal so we missed each other but she got ahead of me and we met up to finish the day at Bridge 102, very handy having bridges numbered. Approx 15 miles
4th October: Collected Morrisons, Banbury
5th October: Short uneventful walk from Bridge 102 to Bridge 109 passing Napton Junction. 7 miles Drove to Dover for an army reunion weekend.
7th October: After bidding a fond farewell to Army friends of many years we drove to Rye where I walked 2 and a half miles along estuary to start of the Royal Military Canal and walked 6 and a half miles towards Hythe where an ex sapper is hosting us for three nights at the Famous Ship Inn, Sandgate. 9 miles.
Good news today!! Talked to a fisherman who informed me of another section of the canal that I knew nothing about, more to walk. Yippee!!! Still glorious weather today.
8th October: Set of in heavy rain which continued all day although a relatively short distance I found it my toughest to date, coping with the rain and very muddy and slippery path. Approx 13 miles
February 2013 - A short trip to Cornwall!
The weather wasn't too kind at the start of the year. Just to get back into the swing of things and get into the mood for Wales, I walked the 100 yards of the Charlestown Canal in Cornwall! Here's a picture to prove it!
April 2013 - Welsh Wales.
After a winter of discontent ravaged by the weather, 2013 finally started when on Friday 12th April Sue and I travelled up to Welsh Wales namely Newtown to stay with Chris and Sarah Smith, in their lovely holiday cottage in Highgate, Our plan was to walk the Montgomery Canal.
We spent Saturday collecting in Morrisons in Welshpool, £461 raised.
I commenced walking the Montgomery Canal, accompanied by our good friend Pauline on Sunday and completed the 14 miles from Welshpool, finishing along the disused canal in Newtown, after being chased on a stretch of canal by an angry swan, presumably protecting its nest!!
On 15th, ably assisted by Newtown Rotarians and Pauline, we had a very successful day collecting at Newtown Morrissons, raising over £600 - making over £1000 over the two collections. We said a fond farewell to Pauline and spent the evening as guests of Newtown Rotary at their meeting, for which we were very grateful.
April 16th Had an arduous 21mile walk from Welshpool to Frankton Junction on the LLangollan Canal. 35 miles to date.
Top : Distance sign on the Montgomery Canal
Middle: Doug and Pauline at Welshpool Montgomery Canal
Bottom: A helping hand at Morrisons with the Newtown Rotarians
April 17th – I started the day gently by walking the 1 mile of the disused Guilsfield arm of the Montgomery Canal. From there I drove up to the fantastic Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, walking across 137’ above the river and continued on to Llangollen, after walking the 50 yards into Trevor basin. After meeting up with Sue to enjoy cheese scones beside the canal, I walked on to Horseshoe Falls, this stretch is only open to horse drawn boats. Horseshoe Falls is a manmade phenomenon built to create a level millpond to allow a smooth traverse for boats from canal to river. We then drove back to Pontcysyllte and I continued walking south and finished the day after walking through Chirk Tunnel. Approx 12 miles. We were hosted by Frank and Debbie Brook, at their lovely smallholding and were invited by Ellesmere Rotary to their meeting, many thanks for their support.
April 18th – Set off from Chirk tunnel, immediately crossing Chirk Aqueduct and walked to Frankton Junction, meeting Sue at the Narrowboat Inn for lunch. A bit of concern - I thought I'd lost my waterproof, but we went back to start walking again, found waterproof in backpack which we had both searched!! After this little mishap I began walking again. I soon realised I'd forgotten to take my phone, our lifeline to keep in touch. I ended up having to call our daughter in Devon, get her to ring my phone to let Sue know what had happened. She, in the meantime, had found the phone and was waiting for me on the edge of a very windy stretch of canal at Ellesmere, freezing cold!! Anyway I proceeded to finish the day at Welshampton.
April 19th – Started at Welshampton and after walking the 3miles on the spur to Prees, where a very kind lady of advanced years, gave me a lift back to the main canal, I finished at Bridge 43 on the Llanollen canal a little way from Whitchurch.
Sue went home and I went to stay with a friend in Bridgenorth to walk the ones in that area.
Chirk Aquaduct - one for boats the other for the train
Doug on Pontcysylite Aquaduct (yes he's really up there!)
Doug at Horseshoe falls
Mink Family at Frankton Junction!
Caught because they devistate the fishing!
Doug coming down from Pontcysylite Aquaduct
Sat 20th. Now stopping with friend John once more in Bridgenorth, he drove me to Great Haywood Junction on the Trent Mersey Canal where I walked the 19 miles. Two miles of the path were fenced off for repairs, over the fence, Saturday so no workers about, reached the end but much more secure fencing so had to walk along gunwale of a boat to get past, on to Stoke on Trent where I caught a train back.
Sun 21st: Was driven to Middlewich and walked to Nantwich and joined the Shropshire Union Canal and continued to Audlem. 17 miles
Mon 22nd. I walked the 17 miles from Audlem to Norbury Junction, taking my life in my hands as it was very wet and slippery. This section of the canal was a terrific engineering feat, using the cut and fill technique involving moving, I would estimate, millions of tons of material long distances by horse and cart, all dug by hand, meaning no locks necessary. 17 miles.
Tues. 23rd. Again a long drive to Middlewich and walked to Stoke, I missed the last bus to Wolverhampton so had to catch the train. 20 miles.
Wed. 24th. Wheaton Aston to Norbury Junction, was more cut and fill. On to Newport (not Wales) where I took my life in my hands, once again, on A41. I had to walk on the road as the canal was now defunct. Had a nice break, meeting up with an old Army mate and his wife who live in Telford.
Thurs. 25th. I completed the Llangollen Canal walking from bridge 43 Whitchurch to Nantwich, taking about 10 minutes to walk 400 yards of an extremely boggy path, where the canal bank was collapsing. 17 miles
Fri. 26th Back home to Devon for a week, catching up on work and planning out next trip to the Kendal area, Skipton, an army reunion in Coventry, canals in that area and finishing up in Lincoln to walk with Dean.
May 2nd and 3rd 2013.
We travelled up to Kendal, fitting in a 5mile walk on the Lancaster Canal; we met up with Harry, an old army friend, his wife Babs and dog Bonnie.
May 4th: With our host David Alexander, we walked to the start of the Lancaster Canal in Kendal and back. Walked as far as Carnforth missing out sections already walked and double walking sections interrupted by motorway. 22 miles
May 5th: Below Tewitfield the Lancaster Canal is a contour canal resulting in us walking several large loops adding considerably to the distance to be walked including circumnavigating Lancaster which meant we had the Cathedral in sight for over an hour and viewed it from all sides. We continued south and took the spur to Glasson Docks where we took on refreshments before driving back to the junction where, much to Harry’s consternation, I got him to drive me down a “Devon” lane to save me rewalking a mile, resulting in nasty noises under the car, I was informed it wasn’t built for off road!!! But alls well and we’re talking now (check 7th May for another episode!!) finished at Winmarliegh. Approx 18 miles
May 6th: Struck out for a hard hot days slog to Preston where we were met by Keith and Sue Cameron, who treated us to a very nice home cooked meal. 20miles Lancaster Canal, 60 miles in total.
May 7th: Walked Britain’s newest canal The Millennium Link from Preston to River Ribble including some cross country, brambles, nettles etc. 3 miles then off to meet Harry and Babs. Sue and Babs went into Blackburn while Harry acted as my driver for the day, but not before Sue had reversed into his car. Strike 2!! With Harry in attendance I walked south from Bridge 69 Adlington on the Leeds/Liverpool Canal ,to the famous Wigan Pier, I soon noticed the locks were wider than previous canals except in Scotland, then was driven back to Bridge 69 and walked north to Bridge 91a just north of M65 then back to Harry and Bab’s where we were staying for 3 days. 20 miles
May 8th: We all set off with Bonnie (dog) to Bridge 91a where myself, Babs and Bonnie set off walking in the rain and met Sue and Harry in Blackburn at Asda where Harry took over from Babs to walk to Rishton. Babs took over walking duties again to Clayton-le-Moors, and then Harry took the last leg to Sycamore Farm Bridge 126a. An interesting walk where the contours meant travelling 3 miles to cover 1 mile on occasions. Approx 18 miles, Bonnie walked every step of the way with me.
May 9th: Set off from Sycamore Farm in good spirits as weather forecast was not good!! Not bad at the start, walking with Babs and Bonnie the weather soon began to go the way of the forecast with the wind picking up and the wet stuff descending upon us, we had to take a diversion over Gannow tunnel (600 yds) route which was badly marked, walked approx 1 mile to find the other end but carried on regardless with weather steadily deteriorating, Harry took over from Babs for a while but Bonnie carried intrepidly onward. Babs soon took over walking again as Harry’s navigational skills were needed to get the car to Foulbridge Tunnel. On arrival at said tunnel Babs and Bonnie retreated from the weather into the car while I followed what I believe to be the route the horses took over the top, while the boatmen legged through the tunnel. At the end fortunately there was a cafe so we took welcome refuge for a brew and consumption of our sarnies. It was here that we learnt the story of the cow that fell in the canal and unable to get out it swam through the mile long tunnel where it emerged in a very sorry exhausted state which encouraged it’s rescuers to take it to the local pub and revive it with Rum (not sure if it was with coke, ice and a twist!) This is celebrated annually with a local volunteer dressing up in a cow suit and swimming through the tunnel before being dragged off to the pub and plied with rum, I believe there is no shortage of volunteers. With the weather rapidly worsening, Harry and I completed the final 3 miles of the day and arrived at Barnoldswick Bridge 152, soaked but pleased with what we had achieved despite the conditions, in the last half mile Bonnie turned tail and headed back the way we had come and refused to come back until put on the lead, her spirit was finally broken.
May 10th: The four of us spent the day collecting at Asda at Colne arranged by Bert Humberstone of Nelson Rotary, who also booked us two days in the Oaks Hotel. We bade a fond farewell to Babs and Harry who had kindly hosted us for three days as well as walking and ferrying us about (good friends), with their help we raised £588.
May 11th: The morning was a total washout but about midday Sue and I set off to complete the walk to Skipton, contrary to the rumours it was a mere coincidence that we failed by five miles to complete the distance and arrived at The Old Stone Trough just as the Cup Final started. 9 miles completed.
12th May: Had a day off to visit old friends from Settle and Skipton Rotaries who had hosted us on JOGLE.
13th May: Collected at Skipton Morrisons assisted by Rotarians organised by Bob Marchant , raised £499 then completed the five miles of Leeds/Liverpool Canal at Skipton.
14th May: Travelled to Droitwich
15th May: Met up with Ron and Lynne (brother and sister-in-law), then finally located and walked with Sue on the end of the elusive southern tip of the Dudley No 2 Canal, hidden in a housing estate south of Grosty Tunnel, more than a year after completing the northern section 2 miles. 305 miles in 2013.
16th/17th May: Collection at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham where we raised £2019. We were kindly invited to have a meal with some of the wounded soldiers, by their Padre, as it was Chef’s night. The military patients could choose their favourite meal to be cooked for them. It was an honour to meet the soldiers who had been through so much. During our visit we were shown around Fisher House, a facility specially built where relatives can stay while visiting the wounded and the patients can spend time with them in a non hospital environment. Fabulous facility.
17th/18th May: 11 Sqn. Reunion in Coventry. Many thanks to The Holiday Inn who once again give us a complementary weekend plus two more cheap nights.
May 19th: After a weekend of possibly over imbibing a tad, walking recommenced in earnest (more like Fred!) at Market Harborough where I walked to Foxton Locks shared a sarnie with Sue and continued south on Leicester section of Grand Union Canal to Bosworth Husband Tunnel, no towpath so over the top and picked up by Sue at Bridge 45, a section of towpath which was very difficult to negotiate due to the path sloping steeply towards the water’s edge and very uneven. Luckily for me it was reasonably dry as it would be treacherous if wet and pretty dangerous. After a late start 12.1/2 miles.
May 20th: Drove to Bridge 28 on Grand Union Canal and set off to Welford, completed seven and a half miles. Drove to Bridge 45 and walked to Welford Junction and back – 2 miles. Drove to Foxton Locks and walked all the little diversions including up and down the incline, then set off towards Leicester as far as Saddington Tunnel, 3 miles then back to Bridge 28 to head south as far as Bridge 22 – 3 miles, paths very uneven 15.1/2 miles
May 21st: Started at Saddington Tunnel where I had to walk over the top and continued to Leicester pretty uneventful other than when I foolishly pushed past a barrier and immediately realised why it was there, I stepped out on an old wooden bridge which tried to deposit me in the water, which I just avoided, talk about look before you leap but never mind on to Leicester where I walked on trying to find where the canal joins the River Trent. Didn’t reach it, it seems difficult to spot the join 18 miles.
May 22nd: Started from Bridge 21 at Cossington and walked into Leicester, while Sue caught the bus from the Park and Ride. It was a nice walk most of the way, through nature reserves, water habitats etc., very peaceful. During this period I came across a bit of towpath blocked off due to a 50 yd section being repaired. After yesterdays shenanigan I decided not to climb over, which resulted in a half mile diversion, you win some you lose some and on to meet Sue in town. In the afternoon we drove back to Bridge 21 to resume the walk north, easier said than done! Over the bridge there was no footpath, no signs and access blocked off. Not to be deterred and much to Sue’s trepidation, I shimmied along the outside of what was quite a long bridge, witnessed by Sue and her camera I alighted beside the canal on no path, just a verge of nettles and brambles. I set off some would say intrepidly others would call it something else. As I was in shorts I wrapped my jacket around my legs like a sarong and ploughed on but it was not to be, the terrain became impassable so I began to retrace my steps but not wishing to face Sue I rolled under a barbed wire fence, walked across a field full of swans and joined what I think was meant to be a footpath but not well trodden. I followed this ‘path’ for about 2 miles through the best crop of nettles it’s been my good fortune ever to see, still using my coat as a skirt. In relative safety I completed the final 4 miles to meet Sue at the Marina at Barrow upon Soar; 15 miles give or take due to diversions.
May 23rd: Not the best day to date. Drove to Eastwood to locate the start of Erewash Canal, a remote, quiet but very pleasant stretch of water, weather changeable, I walked to Sandiacre, where with Sue ‘lost’ I took shelter from torrential hail in the White Lion, where I had a most welcome and warming cup of tea, yes tea!! We spent the rest of the afternoon searching for and walking what we could find of the Derby/Nutbrook canal more research is need for this. Spoke to an elderly gent who had lived there all his life and there were three canals, one of which he called the Nutbrooke .
May 24th: Set off from Sandiacre for a wet windy but interesting walk to Nottingham, almost immediately passed the blocked off junction of the Derby/Sandacre Canal another very important canal in its day to transport numerous goods including coal, bricks and even beer. Took a call from Lincoln radio and gave a live interview before continuing to Trent Locks a very lively and interesting junction with the River Trent. I continued along the River Trent, walked the Cranfleet Cut and took a long walk through nature reserves beside the river until I reached the Beeston Canal. By this time the weather had improved to torrential rain and gale force winds which as always I had to walk into with the added bonus of contending with much tree debris, this done I met up with Sue who had roughed it on Park and Ride. I then had a further mile and back to walk to where the canal rejoined the river.
Doug and Babs on the Lancaster Canal
Doug and Harry on the Lancaster Canal
Doug and Babs
Bridge 21 Grand Union Canal River Soar at Cossington
Bridge 21 Grand Union Canal
Bridge 21 Grand Union Canal at Cossington - attempting to go North!
Doug at Foxton Locks
Doug and Dean at the Awards Ceremony
Dean, Doug and followers arriving in Lincoln
May 25th: The big day has finally arrived. It’s the day of my Lincoln walk with Dean and the build up over the last few days have not been without problems. Only one week ago Dean’s girlfriend Hayley, an equestrian rider of some note had a serious accident at Rockingham Horse Trials and ended up in intensive care with multiple injuries, but showing the same brand of courage as Dean, one of her first concerns was to insist that Dean should continue with our planned walk just six days away.
A bit of a sleepless night last night as I hadn’t heard from Dean for a few days so wasn’t certain all was going to plan, but fear not!! We were scheduled to start our walk at nine o’clock and began to assemble from 8.30 am onwards with Dave Lea, H4H Co-ordinator, the Chairman of West Lyndsey Council, cadets of Newport detachment Grenadier Guards, photographers, Hayley’s family, including her parents and grandparents. Sue and Maria had gone off to organise the start of the collection in Lincoln. I was meeting and greeting and posing for photos while manoeuvring myself into a position where I had a phone signal ready to receive a prearranged call from Lincoln Radio at 9.00 am time was ticking on and still no sign of Dean. Ten to nine a very bright and breezy Dean, “Good Morning Doug, what time are you getting there?” “Hello Dean, we are all here already and raring to go”
“Oh I had better pop over then “says he, luckily he lives nearby.
Dean set off with great enthusiasm and gusto towards the canal towpath when to his horror he realised the only way was up steps, “I can’t do steps” he can now!! Once on the path things didn’t get much easier as the surface was loose chipping on solid hardcore and as he has difficulty lifting his left foot it was extremely testing, not helped by the large amount of tree debris deposited by the previous day’s high winds. Dean’s next test came when the formal path ended and became earth, very uneven and sloping steeply towards the canal. At this point I was very concerned he may not be able to negotiate the way ahead but he was completely unfazed and intrepidly continued on his way, maybe because he was still on a high after passing and pointing out his beautiful house beside the canal which he was obviously very proud of. Up steps and across patio of the Pyewipe Inn, where we were staying, the path became smooth tarmac and so was much easier for Dean. We were also accompanied by David and Judith Shepherd, the proud and brave parents of son Daniel, killed in Afghanistan by an IED. He was one of the special breed who volunteer for bomb disposal. A true hero!!
We finally arrived triumphant at the War Memorial in the town centre but not before Dean had negotiated, I don’t know how, a steep and narrow set of about 20 steps up to the street level, an amazing feat by a remarkable man, the walk had taken 2 hours 40 mins, an incredible achievement.
With our merry band of helpers which included local Lions and Lionesses, Cadets, David and Maria (H4H) and Andy?, we raised the mighty sum of over £2300.
On this trip I believe I walked England’s oldest canal, the Fosdyke , with Dean, and the newest, the Millennium Link at Preston. Special thanks must go to Holiday Inns (Coventry and Derby/Nottingham) who once again provided us with complimentary accommodation
Drove up north with my driver for the week, Phil Browne, made good time so alighted at Barbridge Junction on Trent/Mersey Canal where I had previously walked the Middlewich branch and turned south. This time I’m heading north and walked as far as Bridge 109 at Beeston.-approx 6 miles.
July 16th - Phil dropped me off at junction in Middlewich where I had previously walked west/south to Barbridge Junction and south/east to Stoke, so to complete the set I headed north to where we joined the Bridgewater Canal at Preston Brook, thus completing all of the Trent/Mersey north of Great Haywood. For a long time I thought I had taken a wrong turn and ended up on the Amazon, as the path became very overgrown and the jungle with all its noises closed in. I was continually being eaten by swarms of biters but the good news is I left a trail of horseflies in my wake. After passing the Anderton Boat Lift, which I was unable to get to as it is all fenced off and now a Museum, which hopefully we can visit sometime in the future. Phil now informed me he was unable to get down to the canal for some considerable time as there were no road bridges but he texted me to say he was parked under a large main road swing bridge, I couldn’t miss him!!!! After several miles, getting tired, hot and bothered in about 30c I ran out of water and had to ask a couple on a boat for a refill and enquire how far it was to said unmissable road bridge! After much debate and consultation of maps it was established Phil was in fact waiting on the River Weaver. After a bit of light hearted banter on the phone we finally met up at the end of my journey at Junction with Bridgewater Canal under the M56. 19.½ miles achieved in scorching heat.
Located start of Shropshire Union Canal at Ellesmere Port where it meets with the Manchester Ship Canal and after a quick before hours look around the Boat Museum, head south to Chester, temperature already rising. Phil went ahead and I walked the 8.½ miles to meet him for a bite in the City. Walked the 300yds and back to meet the River Dee. After, on several previous occasions, being frustrated to find the towpath closed and having to take diversions, on this occasion I was delighted to encounter a closure which meant a detour to walk the city wall, which bordered the canal all the way, but towered above it, very impressive. After a very short break I continued south/east to finish at Bridge 109 Beeston Lock. Very hot, very tired but elated to have completed the Shropshire Union Canal. As yesterday a very difficult walk with the heat and often uneven paths and squadrons of Kamikaze horseflies to contend with, but once again left the towpath strewn with corpses. 18.½ miles
An interesting, frustrating and relatively successful day. We started off from the end of Trent/Mersey where we finished on July 16th and walked west on the Bridgewater Canal around Runcorn, intending to reach its junction with Manchester Ship Canal. All went well for about 5 miles when about 2 miles from the end it was blocked off with the locks buried in sand for future exhumation. I set off through housing estates around a large college and around docks and eventually found the remaining 30yds where it joined the Manchester Ship Canal. We spent a fruitless 2-3 hours trying to find the Runcorn/Weston Canal which is on my 1947 ordinance survey map, which apparently is also buried but along with the end of the Bridgewater Canal it is at sometime due to be resurrected. We also tried to walk the Weaver Navigation which in 1947 was described as River Weaver canal. I walked odd stretches between bridge repairs, huge chemical plants and several other massive plants strewn along the river side making access impossible. We finished the day locating and walking a 2 mile stretch of the Barton Cut finishing at Anderton Boat Lift. Again ended up walking through the Amazon jungle, at one stage attacked by 6 horseflies simultaneously, result 6-0. Distance walked today probably 14-15 miles, to count as canal walk approx 9-10 miles.
Found the start of the Uttoxeter Canal at Foxt near the Froghall Tunnel which is I think the tunnel with the least headroom I have seen to date., which was brought home to me by a couple who had just arrived by narrow boat and had edged the nose of the craft in and decided it was too low to get the cabin through. Phil went ahead towards Hazlehurst Junction then the fun began, as ~I quickly realised we had no phone signal and there was a long trek to the first bridge, I began to feel weak and shaky and in need of sustenance and as I had nothing with me other than by now warm water I resorted to sucking on a Fisherman’s Friend which strangely seemed to do the trick. This canal, also part of the Caldon Canal in the Churnet valley terminates in the middle of nowhere, miles from Uttoxeter appearing to serve no purpose but apparently served the production of limestone and copper. When the railway arrived a section of the canal had to be re-dug to one side of the narrow valley to accommodate the railway, section of which including Consall station are still in place. Met up with Phil to replenish water and consume with relish a chocolate bar he just happened to have. I pressed on and met and left Phil at the Hollybush Pub while I walked onto Hazlehurst Junction and returned on the Leek Branch via the Hazlehurst Aqueduct. We then drove to Leek to find the end of the canal but joined it too early so I had to walk a mile there and a mile back, twice having to walk over a tunnel which was the steepest path over a tunnel that I have encountered to date, undeterred I strolled back to the Hollybush for the third time, crossed Hazlehurst for the second time and retraced my steps to Hazlehurst Junction, where with time moving on, the temperature rising and 9 miles to go and beginning to flag, it was a fairly daunting prospect but even though I found it extremely hard going, the task was completed just after 6.00 pm, time to get a cold drink and something to eat. With retracing steps distance walked 21 miles.
Next morning Phil departed home, we had achieved 75 miles in total.
20th July - Picked up by Harry and Babs and Bonnie ,the dog, and taken to Haslingden for my stay.
21st July - The three of us and bonnie set off for a day of drama, discovery, comedy, entertainment and errors!! We drove to Tarleton on the Rufford Branch of the Leeds/Liverpool Canal and started our days walk at the point where the canal meets the River Douglas. Harry, Bonnie and myself set off to meet up with Babs at Rufford, we had gone barely ½ a mile when our jungle training became essential, mine and Harry’s not bonnie’s. We weren’t appropriately dressed and were missing our gallocks (jungle knives) so unable to slash our way through the 5ft high nettles followed by 5ft thistles covering the path!! As we circumnavigated fields of barley, onions the then spuds, at the end of which the undergrowth subsided and the going became much easier so were able to pick up the pace and soon met up with Babs walking to meet us. We continued to Rufford station where Babs, Harry and Bonnie dropped off for a comfort break while I carried on alone to meet up again at Bridge 5, where Babs and Bonnie rejoined me and we continued to meet Harry at Burscough Junction. It was decided that as Babs was so fit she and bonnie would continue with me on the next leg to meet at Appley Bridge. Our plans, (my plans) began to unravel at this point. Firstly we came upon two very interesting sights to which I remarked what a great photo opportunity, pity I had left my camera in the car and Babs didn’t have one. The things in question were first a raft/shed/boathouse catamaran built totally of drawers, complete with knobs with wardrobe doors to get in, what looked like a piano under a sheet on deck and catamaran type pontoons to keep it afloat. It was unique as was the other phenomenon, which was a house like frame built with saplings with wattle like fencing around the bottom and possibly willows around it. Most intriguing. Want to see it completed if indeed it wasn’t already! We walked on with me chuntering about the missed photo opportunity, that covers the error, mine!! Next came the comedy. Bonnie set off on the gallop after spotting two rather small frisky dogs gambolling on the path ahead of us. Now Bonnie likes nothing better than a swim in the canal but was totally unprepared for what happened next. While charging with the pack along the path she suddenly ended up in the drink . Babs and I collapsed in fits of laughter while Bonnie pretended she had done it deliberately and swam calmly about and collected a plastic bottle. Now came a little bit of drama when we settled down and realised the side was a bramble covered 3ft high sheer wall which continued for as far as we could see and it was obvious there was no way she could get out unassisted, so we found a low point clear of brambles and attempted unsuccessfully for several minutes to entice her over until finally she came close enough for us both to grab her collar and drag her back onto terra firma where surprise, surprise, she proceeded to show her gratitude by shaking canal water all over us, Babs leapt out of the way but I being older and less nimble was still on my knees so she decided to treat me to an encore , much to Babs delight. We arrived at Parbold and found a suitable small café for refreshments and called for Harry to come and join us. After a refreshing brew we ate our sarnies and I asked Harry if he would mind taking Babs and going back to get photos of my missed opportunity while I carried on walking, being Harry he readily agreed. Our departures were delayed by Babs accosting a young man in an H4H T shirt and telling him what we were up to, it turns out he was an ex soldier doing events to raise money for H4H. A tad reluctantly I set off, agreeing to meet at Bridge 42. I had to take a slight detour when I spotted a lock buried in the undergrowth on the far side of the canal, so thought I better investigate so walked up to the next set of locks and crossed over to check it out, I walked back down and discovered the hidden canal opened right out into what must have been a marina or boatyard in days of yore. O.K. retrace my steps cross back over and on to bridge 42. On arrival I saw no sign of Harry, Babs or Bonnie so thought I’d give them a ring!! Oh joy of joys no signal. O.K. up onto the bridge and find one hoorah a very slight one, I know I’ll send a text, success, I’ll walk on, back on the path, walked 200 yds thought , no I’d better speak to him back to the bridge. Check signal, just O.K. Harry answered ’Bad news I’m afraid, had a puncture, just changed the wheel, on my way, but running late, O.K. will meet on Bridge 46’ Back on course, another small diversion with second section of canal for no apparent reason other than perhaps a passing place through the locks when busy, no longer in use. Finally some light relief when I passed a boat full of people having a party with loud music, dancing in the aisle and even one young lady dancing on the roof and everyone waving and enjoying themselves, even two blokes leaning out the windows offering me pints of beer which they knew I could not reach. I offered to swap with my bottle of water which was declined. At last met up again with Harry, Babs and Bonnie, party boat caught us up for photos, Babs and I strolled on with Bonnie to meet up with Harry in Wigan. Relief!!! 18.½ miles
Started the Rochdale Canal at Summit and set off downhill with Babs and Bonnie while Harry went to get his puncture mended and met us in Todmorden, Harry then took over walking duties and we headed for Hebden Bridge where we stopped for a break. The Rochdale Canal was a very busy canal, transporting cotton, wool, coal, limestone, timber, salt and general merchandise over it’s 32 miles and 92 locks, very important to the locality. After 1937 when the last full length journey was able to be made, it soon fell into disrepair, filled with rubbish and the locks rotted, the canal was gradually filled in which continued into the mid 1960’s. This was eventually stopped and in the mid 1970’s work started to restore it to its former glory, which I can vouch for the fact they have achieved with great success. On this canal we started at the highest broad canal lock in the country passed the deepest lock in the country at Hebden Bridge and finished at the very impressive Salterhebble Guillotine Lock at Exley, after walking through Sowerby Bridge and up and back on the Halifax Arm. 16 mil
Torrential rain, no walking.
We set off to Summit then we headed south towards Ashton-under-Lyme, once again walking downhill, reached Chadderton where we called it a day. On this section of canal Babs and I encountered something I haven’t come across before. Where the canal passed under the M62 there was no towpath and no obvious route around, even though the path was signposted, we retraced out steps past what we took to be a floating landing stage and followed the road around under the motorway and relocated the canal the other side of the M62. On talking to a local lady about the absence of a towpath, she said there must be a boat coming so they will have removed the pontoon to allow it through so it turns out our landing stage was in fact a floating removable towpath, clever these northerners!! 12 miles walked
Arrived at Exeter St David’s after a trouble free journey.
123 miles completed on this trip. 520 miles to date in 2013.
Doug on Leeds/Liverpool Canal near Skipton.
Doug and Dave arrive in Leeds.
Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds
Doug with Huddersfield Rotary Club.
.Bridge for horses to cross to reach towpath on the other side of canal
Doug at Bugsworth Junction
Yorkshire and East Cheshire from 7th August 2013
We stayed with friends Joan and Bryan Procter in Settle. We all spent the day collecting in Settle. In the evening I was hosted by Settle Rotary Club where I gave a short talk on my exploits, we left Settle, having raised over £500, thanks to Settle Rotary Club and members, the people of Settle and Joan’s window cleaner who donated after hearing about the walks.
9th August. Set off to Skipton to finish walking the canal around the castle, then set off towards Leeds. Met up with Sue at Kildwick and again at Silsden where we had a break for lunch. Rang Dave, an old army friend to arrange to all meet up at Bingley Station. I walked on expecting Dave to be walking to meet me as agreed, but after reaching the station and no sign of Dave contacted him to find he had taken Sue for a coffee, but would walk to meet me. After a further ½ a mile and still no sign found I was walking away from them so walked back and met up with both of them. We agreed I would walk on and finish at Shipley passing Saltaire Village named after Sir Titus Salt who built a textile mill and this village on the River Aire. In 2001 it was designated a World Heritage Site.
I set off, walking the same section of canal for the third time!! Lo and behold after about 1.1/2 miles feeling very hot and bothered I spotted Sue and Dave ahead waving ice cold drinks at me, just to taunt me. After meeting up we went to Dave’s home and met Carole his wife, they were putting us up for our stay. About 18 miles walked, including extras!
10th August. Went to Asda Shipley arranged by Dave and collected over £700 proving it’s not true what they say about Yorkshire folk!!!
11th August. Embarked on the last leg of the Leeds/Liverpool heading towards Leeds, Dave pointed out the remains of the Bradford Canal so walked up and back for the few yards left, another one done. I continued on my way for about 3 miles when I came across a tearoom which sorely tempted me but I thought I had best walk on by, no sooner had I made up my mind, I spotted the shiny pate which could only be one person. I decided to join them. After a cuppa I carried on for another 3 miles and met them at yet another tearoom where we had more tea/coffee and a huge portion of homemade apple pie and cream. That completed went on to Leeds, arrived at the end of the canal and had to continue ½ mile more along the River Aire another short section of canal, a quick walk around Clarence Dock and finished at the Royal Armouries Museum, it’s Hall of Steel contains 17th Century Armour and 19th Century military equipment, very impressed after only spending a few minutes as it was closing time. So that completes the Leeds/Liverpool other than a 24 mile section leading into Liverpool Docks. 14 miles today.
12th August. Bade a fond farewell to Dave and Carole, with our heartfelt thanks and drove to Ravensthorpe near Mirfield where I located the canal (Calder and Hebble Navigation) and headed towards Wakefield, first on the River Calder and then onto the Canal. After about 2 miles I encountered a spur which went off to Savile Town Basin, so obviously I had to walk to the Basin ¾ mile and back, this spur wasn’t totally unexpected but was longer than anticipated. After this was completed I realised we had lost phone contact and I began to muse about the practicalities of meeting up when I finished. I walked to the end of the canal including the private moorings at the end where it rejoined the river. I retraced my steps and crossed the river on a temporary bridge and then walked the river for about 2 miles until I reached a road then caught a bus into Wakefield where I met up with Sue. We then returned to our start point of the day where I rejoined the footpath and set off in the other direction, this time on a more difficult path. The path improved when river reverted to canal but not for long as it became river again with no path so I had to join the highway for about a mile until I found my way back on to the canal and continued to Cooper Bridge meeting up with Sue. Approx 17 miles
13th August. We drove to Marsden to begin to walk to meet up with Rotarians at Aspley Basin on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. Sue was met by Rotarian Ian Fillan who guided her to Aspley while I wended my merry way down the charming picturesque Colne Valley. I think it’s been my prettiest canal to date made even more special I believe by the fact that it was the first narrow canal I had been on for some time with most of the northern canals being of the broad variety. I enjoyed my walk to Aspley Basin because as well as being picturesque it was also very peaceful. I met up with Sue and the Rotarians for an impromptu collection and a pub lunch in the company of people who helped us on JOGLE. In the afternoon Ian and I set off on Huddersfield Broad Canal and walked to Cooper Bridge where I finished on 12th August. This most enjoyable days walking took in the lovely villages of Slaithwaite, Minthwaite and Linthwaite. Approx 14 miles.
14th August. Drove to the Guillotine Lock at Exely, where I had finished on July 22nd. Set off once again in Calder Hebble to complete the three visits to Cooper Bridge, a walk not without incident. In Brighouse the canal became river and the towpath ended so I had to find my way around, this didn’t take long and I thought I was back on the straight and narrow but it was not to be. After nearly half a mile the path petered out and I had to retrace my steps and cross over the river, walk through an industrial estate and eventually located the canal and continued apace for about 2 miles. Passing a somewhat sad and dilapidated Bailey bridge and reuniting a young child in his pushchair with his lost shoe. My cheerful demeanour was soon to end, about a mile from Cooper Bridge the path disappeared into the undergrowth and I was completely swamped in head high unforgiving painful sharp and stinging things. I couldn’t go back so I put on my jumper to protect my arms and wrapped my coat come sarong around my legs (shorts you see) and battled through (scathed) to be reunited gratefully with Sue at Cooper Bridge. After a pub sandwich we set off for Marsden and on arrival I walked up to the portal of Standedge Tunnel, the highest, longest and deepest tunnel in Britain. There being no towpath I thought I had better walk over the top taking the route the horses had taken in the past. For the first time my use of local knowledge let me down and despite having the route in my back pocket, given to me by the operators of the tunnel, I asked some local walkers which way I should go, they assured me the route to take was over the bleak Saddleworth Moor where I would pick up the pack horse trail. I arrived back at the tunnel 2 hours later and over 5 miles walked. I consulted an ordinance map I had with me next day and realised I had walked twice as far as necessary. A not very easy 11 miles.
15th August. We drove to where I had commenced my walk over Standedge Tunnel and walked in the other direction to Diggle where I located the tunnel portal and continued my walk south. Met up with Sue at Greenfield and again at Mossly, then on to Ashton-under-Lyme, where I had to find my way around where the path was blocked off and the canal appeared to go under Asda and a car park, not to worry soon found the other end. I completed the Huddersfield Canal
16th August. Drove to Kidsgrove to begin the Macclesfield Canal at the junction I had passed while walking the Trent Mersey. The two canals run parallel for more that ½ mile approximately 20-30 yards apart and cross by means of Poole Aqueduct which begs the question as to why they didn’t join via a T Junction incorporating locks? I’m sure there is a logical explanation. I had to make good progress today if we are to remain on schedule before returning home. Carried on around Congleton and up the Bosley Locks where for the first time I had noticed on all the canals I have walked there was a pool at each lock to save the water the water for the next one, very clever. I’m told the Oxford Flight has the same. After meeting up with Sue at Sutton Hall came across a bridge built to enable the horses to cross over the canal to reach the towpath the other side, a very picturesque bridge the likes of which I had never come across before.
I ploughed on apace agreeing to meet again at day’s end in the area of Bollington, I’ve done so well I’m hoping to maybe achieve 23 miles, but then comes the familiar plaintiff call, ‘I’m lost’!! After much anguish trying to calm her and cajole her into coming to find me, I met a local man out walking and told him my problem with Sue, still on the phone. Eventually he realised where she was and it was decided it would be prudent and almost certainly quicker for us to walk the mile back to find her. This proved to be the case, much to Sue’s relief!! 21 miles
17th August. Final days walk on this tour, drove to last night’s finish point, Bridge 25, both heading for Marple, Sue by car me walking the towpath. After completing the 7 miles to Marple, which is also the end of the Macclesfield Canal, I set off north on the Peak Forest Canal, having arranged for Sue to pick me up at Bridge 14 where I finished on 15th August. We had lunch in a ‘Help in the Community Cafe’ in New Mills, we have come across several of these on our travels. I commenced walking south to where the canal terminates at Whaley Bridge. Half a mile from the end I came across an unexpected junction leading to Bugsworth Basin (Buxwoth), I continued towards Whaley Bridge meeting up with Sue on the way and walked the last bit together. We drove back to Tesco’s which is the nearest point to the junction I had passed, I then walked on to Bugsworth and was very impressed by what I found at the basin. It had obviously been a very busy port in its heyday, linking up with the Peak Forest Tramway for the transportation of limestone and burnt lime. Work to restore the basin started in 1968 and it became a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1977. The basin opened in 1999 and became quite busy, welcoming powered boats for the first time which caused many problems as it was originally built to accommodate horse drawn barges. The damage caused meant that after only 6 months the basin had to be closed to boats to allow extensive refurbishment. This was completed at a cost of £1.2 million and the basin was reopened in 2005 and is well worth a visit. It is also hoped that a section of the tramway can be restored.
We drove back to New Mills and I completed my walk up the Peak Forest Canal by heading north and for the second time today walked down the delightful Marple Locks which had water holding pools which formed exclusive water inlets into private houses. These locks are the first I have come across with very narrow pedestrian bridges to allow boatmen to cross to open the locks. Mission accomplished. 17 miles. 130miles this trip. 650 in 2013
Coventry, Lichfield and Nottingham
September 21st 2013
Having travelled up to Coventry the day before we arrived at the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust’s 25 year Festival where we had been invited to exhibit details of our canal walks. In a quiet moment I took the opportunity to walk the 4 miles from Fradley Junction to Huddersford Junction.
Sept. 22nd – Collection at Morrisons, Holyhead Road, Coventry and raised £583
Sept 23rd – Commenced walking the Ashton Canal at Marston Junction, walked 10 miles before breaking to have lunch with my brother John and Marion. I walked a further 5 miles finishing at Bridge 42 Market Bosworth, making 15 for the day.
Sept. 24th – Met up with Clive Lungmuss at Fazeley Junction to complete the Coventry Canal at Huddlesford Junction, where I had a very important meeting at the Plough Inn. I duly met up with Peter Buck of the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust (www.lhcrt.org.uk ) who was going to walk me along the route of the original canal and the route of the restoration, where there are a few deviations from the original, due to the imposition of roads, railways and the M6 Toll road, having been placed inconveniently in the way. The LHCRT are an intrepid bunch and were not going to let a few small hurdles get in their way. So 25years ago a group of enthusiasts set up a trust, began fundraising, purchasing land, sorting out plans and permissions to make a start on this mammoth task. I feel privileged to have had a guided tour of the full proposed route by Peter, a most driven, passionate and even fanatical member of the trust, which has many other men and women who are equally ardent supporters of what is a gargantuan undertaking.
At Huddlesford Junction the first hurdle is a private boat club based actually on the canal. Luckily Peter is a member and had a key to let us through and in the future the club will be moved to one side of the canal. We then proceeded westward with Peter showing us work done and work proposed which includes rerouting around obstacles, including houses, private land etc. A lot of the work was close to home with my trade including huge amount of excavation and the rerouting of a large main sewer. Future work includes crossing the A38, A51and the A5. The biggest problem to overcome was crossing the pending M6 Toll road. This required an aqueduct to be erected over the carriageway. This task was completed when a preformed steel aqueduct was craned into place with minutes to spare before the tarmaccers were due to surface the carriageway. This was a monumental task of organisation and fund raising. The aqueduct can now be seen suspended above the motorway but leading nowhere, the best view of this is from the adjacent A5. There is an iconic photo of David Suchet, arms spread on the aqueduct at its opening. Another huge difficulty was that the last lock before Ogley Junction was in the garden of a cottage. This was overcome when a benefactor bought the cottage and handed it over to the trust saying ‘Do what you like with it!!!!!!! ‘ There are many dedicated members of LHCRT, none more so that John and Janette Horton who have worked tirelessly to achieve the work carried out to date despite Jan suffering from ill health. 15 miles
Sept. 25th – John took me out to walk the Cannock extension and Anglesey Branch of the Wyrley and Essington Canal which I had been unable to complete when dong the Birmingham network, also walked a short disused section I found on an ordinance survey map. Later I met up with Sue and went to Great Haywood Junction where I walked south on the Trent-Mersey to Fradley Junction. 16 miles
Sept. 26th – Collected in Lichfield Co-op assisted by two REA Veterans, raising a very satisfactory £683.
Sept 27. – Set out from Fradley Junction and headed towards Burton-on-Trent, finished the day at Barton Marina and headed up to Holiday Inn, Notts/Derby for some R&R with friends. 5 miles
Very enjoyable two days with army friends, many thanks to Natalie who made sure our week-end was a success and didn’t break the bank.
Sept 29th – Pouring with rain, but we set off for Barrow upon Soar where we finished on May 22nd with a view to walking to Zouch. The weather was improving and after Sue dropped me off at the wrong bridge I had to walk a ½ mile back to the previous drop off point and back again, I continued along some river and some canal, I met Sue at Zouch then I walked on to where canal met river and back again. 8 miles
Sept 30th – We drove to Trent Locks which I had previously passed when walking the Erewash and Beeston Canals into Nottingham, this time I went the opposite way heading towards Burton on Trent, once again walking river to reach canal at Shardlow which is the start of the Trent/Mersey proper. On my own for the next few hours as Sue made her way ahead until I met up with her and some friendly swans for a cheese scone and afternoon tea. Then met up again at the end of my day’s journey at Mercia Marina, Willington. 15 miles
Oct 1st – We drove to Market Bosworth to cover the final stage of the Ashby Canal. Walked the last 7 miles of the restored and in water canal and arrived at Snarestone to meet up with Geoff Pursglove of the Ashby Canal Trust who had offered to walk a section of the original route of the canal, then set me on my way to complete the walk to Spring Cottage, Moira. Geoff was able to point out to me some of the obstacles the trust has to overcome to achieve their goal of restoring the full length of canal as near as possible to its original route. Not least of these obstacles is to restore the canal to its previous level after a large section subsided 14 feet due to settlement into a mine shaft as the whole area was undermined by up to 28 pits serviced by the canal. As usual I was appropriately dressed in my shorts to cover the overgrown route which became very difficult after Geoff had sent me on my way. I came through it and crossed farmland, a main road and a scrap yard with dead army vehicles which brought back memories!! After meeting Sue in Meacham I set off apace for Moira. After arriving at Donisthorpe I followed the route through the woodland park until I reached the section of restored canal and continued past Moira Furnace and Moira Lock until I reached Bath Yard Basin, from here I had to follow the Heritage Trail to Spring Cottage, then locate the final length of unconnected Ashby Canal in water, terminating at Wadlands Wharf, a very difficult but satisfying 15 miles to complete the Ashby Canal.
Oct 2nd – We drove to Kegworth to walk the two tiny sections of canal at Kegworth and Ratcliffe on Soar. After great difficulty finding access down to river/canal when I eventually arrived I decided the best way to tackle it was to just walk river and canal as far as Redhill Marina where the river Soar meets the Trent. This was duly completed and I met up with Sue at a small boaters Cafe at Redhill where we enjoyed a snack and convivial chat plus a generous donation from the lady who served us. This completes the Grand Union Canal/River Soar, but for my own satisfaction I will go back and walk the river section from Zouch to Kegworth. We then drove up to near Answorth where we found the end of what remains of the Nottingham Canal. Then headed south passing a spur to be walked later this I am informed continues north until it meets the junction of the Erewash and Cromford Canals. I continued south traversing Trowell Garden Centre and finally meeting up with Sue, much to her relief, where canal terminates at A6002 near Bramcote. Miles walked 4 on Soar 6 on Notts total 10 miles
Oct 3rd- Met up with Matthew Rogers and Eric of the Cromford Canal Society to walk the route of what remains of the Cromford Canal and to be briefed on the restoration work they are undertaking. We set off from the junction with Erewash and Nottingham Canals and viewed and discussed some of the obstacles they have to overcome including road crossings and restoring a collapsed tunnel 2,966yds in length. Eric took us down to Portland Basin which even Matthew knew nothing about. We met up with Sue at Hugh Potter’s house and called it a day as the weather had changed to incessant torrential rain. Avery good day as they have many canal contacts and Hugh is a mine of information. 8 miles
Oct 4th – Completed the Trent/Mersey Canal with an uneventful walk from Mercia Marina to Barton Marina. We headed for Lichfield for our army reunion. On the Sunday we were at the National Memorial Arboretum for the commissioning of a commemorative bench at the Royal Engineers site. This event was made even more poignant by the fact that Peter O’Callagan, a much loved and valued member of our branch, despite being very ill managed to attend. It was very moving meeting Pete for the last time and saying our goodbyes, Pete sadly passed away a few days later. R.I.P Pete, our thoughts are with Annie.
Miles walked – 2013 – 753. 2012 – 580. Canal Total 1333. Total all walks 2833.
31st March 2014:
We drove up to meet friends Harry, Babs and Bonny, their dog to intrepidly tackle the awesome Lydney Canal, had to walk there and back, passing along the way large stones with look-out holes pinpointing various landmarks across the estuary, Bristol Suspension Bridge, Berkeley Power Station and others. Managed to complete the 2 miles of canal.
We were in the Travelodge at Grafton, H, B and B on a beautiful camp site situated on the bank of the River Wye.
We met up with Mike Watkins of the Leominster Canal Trust, who had offered to guide us around what is left (not much) of the Leominster Canal. We started in the middle of nowhere (Wharf House) where we proceeded to the middle of nowhere (after Sue and Babs had deserted us) where we came upon a fenced off Lea Aqueduct in a sorry state of disrepair with a large section collapsed. A bit disappointed with its demise we returned to the car and our deserters!! We moved off to Mike’s house where he and his wife Wilma had invited us to their charming cottage for refreshments. After being suitably refreshed we drove to Little Hereford to enjoy a stroll across fields in the warm sunshine to locate the canal and walk to the very impressive Teme Aqueduct with its centre span missing, with various stories as to how it got blown up in WW2. Harry and I sized it up and offered to throw up a Bailey bridge to bridge the gap; thankfully our offer was reluctantly refused!! We then drove around and walked to the Aqueduct from the other way and admired it from another perspective. We then went to Woofferton where we visited Putnal Tunnel and a few short stretches of dried up canal to finish the day. Mike is a real enthusiast for his canal and we were very grateful to him for sharing his enthusiasm with us and giving us a very enjoyable day. Approx 5-7 miles
Sue and I went to Hereford where the last remaining section of the Hereford and Glos Canal is in Aylestone Park. We were met by Dick Skeet, Brian Fox and Wilf Jones of the H & G Canal Trust, who told us the history, hopes for the future and the problems of pollution from adjacent works including a tile factory which is the chief suspect after many decades of discharging excess paint into the water. In the present day all pollutants are difficult and expensive to dispose of, the Trust hope they have come up with a solution. We walked the length of the remaining canal to view the Eastern Portal of the Aylestone Tunnel. We then adjourned for an early lunch at the Swan Inn, which records show may have been the venue in the 18th Century for a meeting to discuss the plans for building the canal. After being treated by Wilf to a most acceptable lunch and a much detailed talk on the running of the Trust and what they had achieved to date, very impressed, we visited sites at Kymin, Yarkhill, Monkhide and Hyde Mill with a team and vehicles of Trust members we walked and were shuttled the entire length of this section. We were regaled with stories of the different measures of co-operation from land owners ranging from outright enthusiasm to over my dead body!! I was introduced to the many problems they are faced with and how they were being overcome i.e. huge trees and stumps to be removed and many stretches of extremely boggy ground which had to be dug out and transported along a considerable length of the canal bed due mainly to limited access points. The highlight of my day was to walk under and study the workmanship in the Skew Bridge (reportedly the skewiest canal bridge in the country). It is built of bricks laid at about a 45` angle it is an absolute work of art in pristine condition and a Grade 11 listed structure. The day finished at Hyde which is home to two of the most interesting mill stones, (apparently French), that I have ever seen. Approximately 3 miles of at times very difficult walk.
Along with Harry and Babs we proceeded to Oxenhall to meet up with Ian, another member of H & G Canal Trust, who deputised for Brian who had hurt his leg. Unlike most of the canal this section was not filled in as part of the railway so remains reasonably intact and still in water and includes a restored lock and Bailey bridge to assist the restoration of Ellbrook Aqueduct. From out parking spot at Oxenhall Church we walked down and turned left onto the path between the canal and a lake featuring swans!! Ian and the girls stopped as we approached what I had been told was an impassible section. Harry and I continued as it got progressively worse, Harry called time so I carried on alone regardless. My advisors were almost right about the impassable status but I reached my destination which was the entrance to the 2192 yard Oxenhall tunnel, I then retraced my steps and rejoined the others sensing a distinct lack of amusement from the girls at the sight of me emerging dripping wet with mud up to my knees. We then walked the other section past the Lock House and the aqueduct sporting the Bailey bridge erected by R.E.cadets from Chepstow. Ironic after we had offered to build one to bridge the gap on the Leominster canal. We retraced our steps and retired to the Travellers Rest, owned by the H & G Trust, for a well earned and most enjoyed lunch. At this point Ian left us and pointed the way to our next port of call which was to be Moat Farm which we duly found and Sue and I walked the section at present under restoration, starting at a bridge where the canal had been filled in and the long gone railway built on top. There was much evidence of the Trusts efforts on conservation as well as restoration. This section is only approx. 500 yards which we walked both ways. Approx 5 miles
We all met up with Paul Henshaw, another member of H & G Trust, at Wharf House, Glos. He took us for a stroll over the famous Telford Bridge and along the river Severn to Llanthony Lock, at approximately 29 feet one of the deepest locks in Britain used in conjunction with a weir constructed in the river to allow a stretch of the Severn all the way to Worcester needing no further locks. The Trust owns the old Lock Keepers cottage which has tenants who have no vehicle access to their homes just a footbridge. When the railway was installed there was a Brunel swing bridge to cross the river and the lock keeper was the only person allowed on foot to cross the bridge, even his family had to cross the river by boat. The Trust has very ambitious plans for this part of the river which they own but I don’t feel it’s my place to publish the details. We then retraced our steps to Wharf House.
After yet another pub snack (more like a full meal) we met up with Ted Beagles whose task was to walk and talk us through the final piece of the jigsaw from Wharf House at Over Basin along the fully restored 600 yards to Vineyard Hill, this section, Over basin and Wharf House are all owned by the H & G Trust and was opened by Prunella Scales and Timothy West, who are very active supporters of the Trust. 5 miles
This brought us to the end of the Hereford and Glos Canal where we walked all accessible sections including, with permission, some on private land. So our heartfelt thanks go out to all the H & G Trust members on the ground and behind the scenes who gave their time with great enthusiasm and made our visit most successful. I found the whole experience fascinating and informative. Thanks to all concerned. Approx 25 miles
Harry, Babs and Bonnie headed home to Haslingdon, Sue and I headed to Coal Port (Iron Bridge) to walk the 1 mile long Coalport Canal. Unfortunately the canal is fenced in as it is now a Museum. The canal runs just inside the fence so I walked up on the outside beside the inclined plane (very steep) inside a nice path, outside steep and very muddy. After the incline the canal lurched to the left and levelled out. Outside the fence the terrain became very uneven and even muddier, I carried on to the end and turned to retrace my wet muddy steps glancing at the nice firm and dry path inside the fence, feeling no envy or malice I slipped and slithered my way back to Sue, bowed but not beaten unlike my trainers! Next we moved on to a spur of the Llangollen Canal going into Whitchurch which I may have walked previously but wasn’t convinced so did it to make sure!! We then moved on to the fantastic Anderton Boat Lift which II had passed on the Trent/Mersey and walked to on the River Weaver and made a note to take Sue on a visit when next in the area. The Lift was first operated solely by balance and water weight but is now hydraulic and computerised. An interesting and successful day. 3 miles
Harry and I drove 60 miles to Ulverston to walk the canal that runs from the town into Morecombe Bay. Dead straight for 2 miles, walked there and back in pouring rain but did enjoy a sea breeze for a couple of minutes before our return 4 miles
After attending a giving a short talk about our exploits to Harry’s Friendship Group, who pleasantly surprised us with an impromptu collection of over £70 for Help for Heroes. After a spot of lunch, we set off south to Chadderton on the Rochdale Canal where I finished at Bridge 69 on 24th July last year. In torrential rain Babs and I set off towards Manchester, after about 4 miles Harry picked Babs and Bonnie up and I continued alone to complete the day and the Rochdale Canal at Fairfield Junction, where the Rochdale meets the Ashton Canal. Approx 8 miles
Harry dropped me off at Portland Basin where I met up with Martin Clarke of the Hollinwood Canal Society who was turning out to walk with me and talk me through the history and points of interest and there are many of the Hollinwood branch of the Ashton Canal, We set off apace to Fairfield Junction where we met the Hollinwood branch, where our pace dropped noticeably as Martin, somewhat of an enthusiast began to give me a fascinating insight into the past, present and future of the canal, obviously mostly the past. The first section in water with a few moorings was very short before we crossed roads and followed the route of the canal through an urban environment until we came back on to the canal as it entered a nature reserve where we came upon a nice little caff where we decidedto grab a cuppa!!
2014 - 2015 Canal Walks
Doug spent the rest of the year walking a number of other canals. Full details of his adventures will be published at a later date, but here they are :
Bridgewater Canal; Manchester (Salford) Bury/Bolton Canal; Leeds/Liverpool Canal; Stratford Canal; River Don Navigation; South Yorkshire Navigation; Dearne and Dove/Sheffield-Tinsley Canal; Chesterfield Canal; Fosdyke Navigation; Cromford Canal; Sleaford Navigation; Derby/Sandiacre and Erewash Canal; Grand Union Canal; Oxford Canal; Leeds/Liverpool Canal; Sankey Canal; Runcorn/Latchford Canal; Sharpness/Gloucester Canal; Basingstoke Canal; Aire/Hebble and Calder Navigation; Stainforth/Keadly Canal; Grantham Canal; North Walsham Dilham Canal; Stover Canal