Friday, 19 August 2016

The only way is down

Barnoldswick Square and, under canvas, the beach
We've reached the summit of the Leeds Liverpool Canal after a short, enjoyable day's cruise and a longer, even more enjoyable evening.
We climbed through the final three, Greenberfield Locks in the company of a laid-back Lancashire couple on their first hire boat holiday and enjoying every minute of it. Their cheery company made up for an encounter with one of those Admiral of the Fleet types who insisted on bossing everyone around at the lock as if we were novice numpties.
We left our cheery chums behind to stop at Barnoldswick for some emergency food shopping. The town doesn't promise much from the canal - all factory frontages and houses with England flags – but what a surprise it proved. The centre is a delight; it seems to be a magnet for retro-cum-junk shops (we found three) and there's a cobbled market square lined with cafes that was quite continental on a sunny day. It also held a huge marquee which turned out to be 'Barnoldswick Beach', full of specially laid seaside sand and beach activities for this miles-from-the-coast town. What a clever idea!
A mile beyond the town we moored up at Salterforth - right in front of our locking buddies once more. We were both planning to head to the canalside Anchor Inn for a meal but first 'northern daughter' had to run back along the towpath to retrieve her car. For someone who can manage 15 miles of trail running, a mere five up a flat towpath was a mere jog.
The Anchor's amazing stalactites
And so to the pub. It's renowned for the stalactites in the old cellar so we took a look and they are just impossibly spectacular. A mass of pencil thin lime strings dangle from ceiling virtually to the floor like something out of an Indiana Jones movie.
It was going to be a simple pub meal but Thursday is quiz night; Alan and Julie joined us and – in between rounds of drinks – we racked up high enough scores in the quiz rounds to come third.
Today, remarkably hangover free, we waved them goodbye as they headed back to base while we sat and looked at the rain which has suddenly dispatched the sun. Well, I guess we are in Lancashire now and it always rains here.
Saying goodbye to our boating buddies

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