My friend Keith, one of the Weekday Wanderers, recently joined The Canal and River Trust the charity that recently replaced the British Waterways Board to take charge of the canals and waterways and are ‘entrusted to care for 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales’. As part of his membership he received a free copy of a bespoke Canal & River Trust edition of ‘Cool Canals’ Walks book.
So this month’s walk alongside The Rochdale Canal was adapted from his Cool Canals walks book. Adapted, because to better fit with the train timetables we took the train from local station New Pudsey to Hebden Bridge and returned from Sowerby Bridge.
Hebden Bridge Station is just outside the town but this didn’t bother us as the canal tow path was nearby and we began the walk immediately on leaving the train. Most of the walk is along quiet paths through countryside and overhung by trees. A few narrow boats are tied up along its banks and there are several locks and many bridges along the route.
Brearley Upper Lock No. 6
Well-preserved mile post
But the Rochdale Canal was originally built to transport industrial commodities along its length so we passed through a couple of built-up and industrial areas that added to the interest of the walk. Unlike the Huddersfield Narrow Canal it can accommodate much wider barges.
Approaching Sowerby Bridge
We passed through the two settlements of Mytholmroyd and Luddenden Foot. There were a couple of cafes along the route which was handy for take-away tea and we fascinated to see a few sculptures had been placed along the route.
Kitchen Coffee House – takeaway tea
So Secret we couldn’t find it!
The Hawk by Kenny Hunter
The Hawk is inspired by the name of the nearby hamlet of Hawksclough and the Ted Hughes poem Hawk Roosting. The poem recalls the memory of a hawk with a small bird in its claws. Hughes saw the hawk while playing in Redacre Wood. It’s made from cast iron a material with local associations.
Ted Hughes (1930-1998), poet laureate, was born at 1, Aspinall Terrace, Mytholmroyd. He used to fish in the canal as a boy and was a keen fisherman all his life. His early experiences exploring local canals, moors and woodland informed much of his later poetry.
Fender, Pool & Splice by Joss Smith
The design is based on the woven rope fenders which were used by boats on the Rochdale Canal. Fenders were attached to the front of boats to protect them from impact and to preserve the lock gates. The sculpture is carved from Kilkenny Limestone. The shape of the seat is taken from the Rochdale Canal boats.
Sowerby Bridge with Wainhouse Tower (middle of picture)
We finally arrived at Sowerby Bridge where the Canal ends and the pool is very deep and closed off from the public. On the opposite side of the road is the Calder and Hebble Navigation (part canal and part river) which runs for 21.5 miles between Sowerby Bridge and Wakefield.
There’s a lovely cafe/bar at Sowerby Bridge Station with a blue plaque commemorating the fact that Branwell Bronte brother of the famous novelist sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne from nearby Haworth had worked at the station for 6 months in the 1840s.
I hope we can do another canal walk again soon!