Canal boat holidays—Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Published: Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Added interest

The mechanically operated swing and lift bridges provide added interest, and there is Foulridge Tunnel and the many aqueducts showing that the waterway is far from boring.

The three staircase Forge and Newlay locks are at the end of the restricted area, and are most interesting to operate. The canal winds up the attractive Aire Valley with further staircases locks until it reaches the famous Bingley Five Rise, which really is a 'must' for any self respecting boater.

Then it's a 17 miles lock-free pound to Gargrave where the waterway climbs the Pennines in earnest, through the most spectacular scenery before it reaches its summit of Foulridge Tunnel.

Then it's down, down, down through the many conurbations of the towns of Coln, Nelson, Burnley, Blackburn and Chorley. Looking at a map it seems the waterway through the towns is all hemmed in by buildings, but this is not so, as there are plenty of long stretches in countryside, with the towns providing interest from time to time.

With all the towns along its length, shopping is no problem, with supermarkets often within walking distance or besides the waterway. However there are places where it is not sensible to moor overnight, with a great deal of vandal activity being reported, so it is wise to moor away from the built-up areas.

Moorings however are provided at many safe locations, and it is no problem in the 'sticks'. There are a few hire bases, but otherwise boating facilities are fairly scarce.

There is plenty of interest with the multi staircase locks at the Eastern end, the most spectacular scenery, the tunnel, aqueducts and finally Wigan Flight of 21 locks, pictured below.

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal cannot really be recommended as a 'first time' waterway, though those of more experience will find the waterway very rewarding. Vandalism is a problem in many areas, but can be avoided with common sense. But for experienced boaters we recommend it  as one of the Pennine waterways that is a worthwhile experience.

The waterway from Leeds to Wigan is 89 miles and 85 locks with many swing bridges.

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The more black stars the better.