Sunday, 21 June 2009

5: The Route

The canal was originally 127.25 miles long, and until recently, the first quarter of a mile at Liverpool was filled in. However, the canal has recently been extended right into the centre of Liverpool at Albert Dock. Both ends of the canal are close to the main railways stations of Leeds and Liverpool. It is possible to cycle along the towpath along the whole canal, the only exceptions are the two tunnels, Gannow and Foulridge. At the tunnels I will have to find my way over the top to meet the canal at the other side.

The route itself doesn't follow anywhere near a direct line. It snakes around the Pennines, heading much further north to avoid the highest peaks. From the starting point by the Train Station in Leeds I head north west through Rodley towards Shipley, following the valley of the River Aire and the railway line. I go through the old industrial heartlands of Saltaire, past the mills to Bingley and then climb to Skipton and out towards Gargrave and the picturesque outlying villages of Greenberfield and Marton. After 45 miles I will reach Foulridge and the summit of the canal at just over 487 feet above sea level.

From Foulridge I head down the Lancashire slopes of the Pennines through Burnley, Blackburn and Wigan. From there it's just over 30 miles to Liverpool and my halfway mark at 127 and a quarter miles.

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