Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Rochdale Canal: And then there were three...

Perhaps it was poetic justice that Julian, the instigator of this foolhardy excursion, ended up with such bad blisters after the first day that he decided to leave the next stretch of the canal - from Rochdale to Hebden Bridge - to the other three.  Would we be down to two by the third day, perhaps?  Place your bets...

The day started at Hebden Bridge railway station, catching a train to take us back to Rochdale.

The rather grubby outskirts of Rochdale were soon a faded memory, and the scenery started to improve as the morning progressed.  One curious thing we discovered was a row of workers' cottages partly obscuring what looked like a large Victorian pile in neo-Jacobean style.  A small amount of Googling later we discovered that there was nothing "neo" about the house at all, since Clegg Hall had been built in the early 17th century.  It was destroyed  by fire in the 1950s, and then stood as a ruin until being fully restored in 2008.  Very fine it looked too, and it would have been better still without the cottages blocking its view!

The canal boat below gets the prize for the best name we found on the trip...

Not everything was in as good a condition as Clegg Hall, unfortunately, and many of the cotton mills and warehouses by the canal bank were in a very sorry state of repair.

I'm not sure why, but it seemed rather incongruous when a chap on an electric unicycle zoomed past us.  Perhaps it didn't fit with the slower pace of life one associates with canal travel?

By lunchtime we had reached the summit of the canal where there was a very conveniently placed pub.

Shortly thereafter, as we started our descent towards Todmorden, we passed the boundary post which told us we were now in God's Own County.  Things could only get better from now on, and indeed the scenery was much more attractive on this part of the canal.

We were now about two-thirds of our way through the walk, and tea in Todmorden beckoned.

Everything had gone smoothly so far, but we were about to hit a couple of stretches of canal where the towpath was closed.  During the horrendous floods in Calderdale - and Hebden Bridge in particular - on Boxing Day 2015, some of the canal bank had been washed away and was currently under repair.  Clearly we needed to divert onto the main road for the closed sections, but in the end another couple of miles at least was added to our walk because of particularly stupid signposting.  Rather than marking the beginning of a section of towpath containing a blockage, the idiot contractors allowed unsuspecting walkers and cyclists to waste time and effort by entering what was, effectively, a dead end.  Mind you, if the signposting had been done properly we would have missed the "Million Dollar Dog Grooming Company", which looked like a really high class establishment.

Eventually we managed to get back to the station at Hebden Bridge, thereby ending our second day.  Then it was time to return to the B&B, pictured below, for a quick wash and brush up.  The peripatetic sheep-shearers were hard at work behind the house, and the last couple of pictures were taken from a skylight in the roof when I should have been getting ready for dinner instead.

Back at base, "the invalid" had spent the day with his feet up - something which was entirely necessary given the state of his blisters.  Did he get any sympathy?  I'll leave you to guess on that one...