Thursday, 11 August 2016

Rochdale Canal: End of the road (well, water, anyway)

There were only six miles or so left to walk on the final day, which was just as well considering the blistered feet and general aches/pains resulting from the previous two days' exertions.  As expected, our resident "invalid" was too badly injured to continue, so he decided to take an early train back home instead (having paid the £70 ransom to change his ticket).  The other three set off to finish the walk, heading along the heavily wooded - and rather attractive - stretch between Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge.

Periodic mileposts allowed us to count down the distance to lunch...

Even the derelict buildings had been decorated, although I'm not sure "Banksy" was responsible in this case.

Since Yorkshire folk (being God's chosen people) are capable of walking on water, it was necessary to erect the occasional signpost to remind them to keep to the towpath.

The canal dropped quite rapidly as we approached Sowerby Bridge, and we even found a field with "Heeland Coo" in it.  All very bucolic.

Not long until lunch now...

The next two pictures show the difference between 1979 and 2016, as we'd posed for a "selfie" at bridge number two, long before the term had been invented.  The canal has been restored in the intervening period, unlike the human elements who are now suffering the various afflictions of age and decrepitude.  I was pleased so see that I wasn't in the original snap, since - presumably - I was the one who had taken it.  I was less pleased to see that, although the bridge was sharp, Julian, Ian and Peter (left to right) were completely out of focus.  Oops.

The intrepid three arrived in Sowerby Bridge at lunchtime (by definition); but, being a stickler for canal etiquette, Ian and Peter insisted that we carry on until we'd reached the bitter end before we were allowed to eat.

The Computer Scientist in me was delighted to see that the first milepost, at the very start of the Rochdale Canal, was actually labelled "zero".  It's truly heartwarming to see that engineers can share this kind of numerical pedantry across the centuries.

Having completed the canal - literally from end to end - we were finally allowed to have our lunch.  Where else but in the converted waiting rooms at Sowerby Bridge station, which put on a fine spread in comfortable surroundings.  A great way to end our walk.

So, will we attempt such a feat again?  Almost certainly.  Will it be Julian who suggests it?  Maybe, although it will probably end up being a less ambitious journey if so.  (Either that or he'll buy a pair of boots which actually fit him next time.)  Since it was 37 years since the original walk, we even suggested that we should attempt it again in 2053 - although possibly using motorised Zimmer frames on this occasion...