Overnight frost has frozen the surface of the canal, ducks are flying in and giving impromptu off balance ballet displays. Sets me thinking about hard winters when thick ice would have closed down commercial travel on the canal. The sodden towpath is a little firmer though. From the start this is countryside walking with the canal weaving its way on its 70ft contour. There has been little need for cuttings or embankments. To the east are the rounded Bowland Hills, when will I be back up there looking down on this landscape?
The peace is broken now and then by cars using their horns on the approach to the humped narrow canal bridges, I’ve never really understood this – why not just drive slowly in the first place. A few bridges show signs of damage where there has been a collision with speeding honking motorists.
There have been several designs of bridges with variation in the pitch of the arch. All are in local stone and some have railings on the parapets. Some have been built as a purely functional road bridge. There are a few wooden swing bridges serving farms and fields. As mentioned they are all numbered in sequence from the south.
An hour’s walking brings me to Guy’s ‘thatched hamlet’ with its eateries and leisure facilities, somewhere to be avoided in the warmer months when it is overrun with families. Today is all peace and quiet as I pass by on the now well surfaced and well used towpath through Bilsborrow to arrive at the next tourist trap, Barton Grange garden centre, marina and the new ice rink in construction. The latter looks completely out of place and scale next to the canal, though the pink insulation will be covered in more sympathetic cladding.
From now on the canal runs in close proximity to the A6 road, the main railway line and the motorway so there is constant noise. Also in this communications corridor are many power lines, the anglers attention is drawn to them by signs on the bank. I am surprised at the number of lines encountered and presumably hardly noticed in daily life.
So far today the canal has used three aqueducts to cross over rivers coming down from those Bowland hills. Each has its own unique architecture and I marvel at the ingenuity of the early canal engineers. The three arched Hollowforth over Barton Brook… the larger Brock…
The canal has some gentle curves and passes attractive woodlands as it loops around to pass Greenhalgh Castle before entering the suburbia of new housing.I escape at a final aqueduct over the River Wyre, dropping down to pass under the canal arch to follow the river through converted mills to catch my bus in Garstang.