Number Five. 19th July

Pipe Bridge 115A to Barrowford Locks

A sunny spot with a view

We really should try to get up earlier, the crew on NB Billy always seem to pass us just after we’ve finished breakfast. Boats were on the move today several having passed us early on and by the time we’d rolled the covers up the boat directly behind us had also moved on. The increase in boat traffic most probably due to Barrowford Locks now being open.

Stunning view

The sun was out but there was a touch of chilliness in the air. We continued on our way following the contour, wiggling back and forth all the time with the M65 close to hand but taking it’s own straighter route along the side of the valley. Views kept coming with every bend more miles of hillside could be seen. I know lots of people think the Ashby Canal is beautiful and has views, but we prefer doing a bit of hard work, climbing some locks and being repaid with spectacular views.

A craggy ruin

We passed a floating dry dock, a moorhen with her babies and encountered a lot of duck weed. In places the weed stretching right across the canal, we mixed the mushy peas up as we went.

NB Billy was moored up on the visitor moorings at Hapton, meeting with some friends, we leap frogged them, although Pete said we’d hopscotched them! Neither Mick or I used to play hopscotch, but I certainly sang and played The Big Ship Sails. This got me thinking, where had this song come from to keep kids amused and tide up in knots in school playgrounds?


A look on the internet confirmed that it was the last day in September that the big ship sailed, but just where was the Alley, alley O? Some theories were The Manchester Ship Canal, others the Suez Canal and more the Atlantic Ocean. Then the date? The Arctic ship sank on the 27th of September, high tides at the end of September, ships bound for St Lawrence River in Canada had to enter it before the winter ice set in, all sorts of theories about the songs origin. I just remember getting tied up in knots.

What flavour goose is this?

Is this a Chinese or an African goose?

As we got closer to Burnley the canal winds under the M65 several more times. We took the opportunity to stop for water at the services on the offside just before Dugdale Bridge. A Dutch Barge sat at one end of the moorings and an ABC hire boat at the other end, leaving the water point free. As we tied up the hire boat pulled out, the chap being a touch too friendly as he cranked up the engine.

As we filled up and disposed of rubbish along with things that had been picked up around the bow and prop, the hire boat returned at warp speed! He shouted over to Mick who was down the weed hatch, ‘You okay?!’ The reply came ‘If you slowed down I would be!!’ Their engine slowed a touch then was cranked back up to warp drive to continue. At least we didn’t think we’d catch him up!

Under the motorway again and then into the blackness of Gannow Tunnel. I remembered to turn the lights on this time. Back in 2016 I’d been drawing below and had forgotten that there was a tunnel so had no cabin lights on!

Now over the motorway for a change, plenty of bridges to keep our interest, new, old. Old mills that have been redeveloped into offices, workshops and residencies.

A popular place to be

The moorings at Burnley Wharf were chocka, boats breasted up and a group of boaters sat in the sun drinking with each other outside the closed pub, all very cheery. As we looked back under the bridge we could see a section where steel or iron had been added to the archway. Had this been an access point to load goods, or just reinforcement to the bridge?

Rivets holding the metal to the underside of the bridge

Then the final left hand bend round to line up with Burnley Embankment, The Straight Mile (even if the embankment is only 0.71 miles long). This stands 60ft above the valley floor and reduced the distance it would have taken continuing along the contour to reach the other side. This is one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways and crossing it Oleanna was bagging her fifth wonder.

From the canal the view of the structure is just straight, not that impressive to look at. But the shear amount of work that went into building the embankment! For us it is the views of the houses that make it special, the lines of neat chimney pots all identical running off down the streets and the views across the roof tops.

At the half way point the embankment becomes an aqueduct to cross over Yorkshire Street, breaking up the straight line just a touch.

Reedley Marina

The warp drive hire boat was back at base at Reedley Marina and people sat out on the balcony having a drink in the afternoon sunshine. Another day of lunch on the go for us.

Mill after mill after mill. Most have been restored and converted into offices or housing. During the Industrial Revolution Burnley became one of Lancashire’s most prominent mill towns, at it’s peak it was one of the largest producers of cotton cloth and had many foundries and ironworks supplying the mills and coal mines with machinery.

Just two of the drain pipes

A stone wall had numerous drain pipes, one every 10 to 12 foot. A look at google earth confirmed it was a factory with rows of angled glazing on the roof, letting natural light in and each requiring a gutter and drain pipe.

Getting rid of oil

Between Scotland Road Canal Bridge 141C and Hodge Bank Bridge 141D there is a very handy recycling centre on the off side with its own mooring. Here we could dispose of any recycling and deposit the engine oil from Oleanna’s last service.

Good friendly cover as well as trees

Only a mile further on we pulled up below the Barrowford flight. A dutch barge was moored on the end of the bollards, we pulled in on the off side and banged some spikes in. On this side there would be less footfall and Tilly had a great variety of trees to climb which kept her busy for a couple of hours before she was called in for dingding.

0 locks, 13.1 miles, 0.71 miles of embankment, 1 tunnel, 1 scaredy cat again! 1 warp drive, 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish, 2 lots of engine oil, 2 lunches on the go, 1 slow cruise, 1 parasol flying, 1 boat caught, 1 flung glass of red.