The 127-mile long Leeds and Liverpool Canal is thought by many to be the finest in England, with spectacular Pennine views, fascinating staircases of locks and the sturdy architecture of mills, warehouses and cottages.
Constructed between 1770 and 1816 it rapidly became one of the most prosperous canals in the country and played a major part in bringing industry to the towns through which it passed.
The Burnley section, which includes one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the British Canal system’ – ‘The Straight Mile’ (the impressive embankment that carries the canal 60 feet above the town), the 559-yard Gannow Tunnel and the Yorkshire Street ‘Culvert’ – was one of the most difficult sections to construct. However, it created wealth in the town and provided the much-needed link with the great cities of Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool.
Today the canal is used mainly for recreation from fishing and cycling to walking and canoeing. There is an abundance of wildlife along its banks and a wide assortment of waterfowl including swans, mallards and grebes. So whether you are on foot, boat or bicycle, if you keep your eyes open you will see how amazing this artery through the town really is.
A Waterways Journey Through Burnley
As the canal winds its way into Burnley it passes the 102-berth Reedley Marina with its cafe bar overlooking the canal and impressive Pendle Hill, stop for a relaxing drink or meal then pop into Barden Mill where you can pick up bargains galore. From here the canal passes houses and factories before reaching Karlen Antiques Centre and Thompson Park with its boating lake, Italian Gardens, orchards and miniture railway. Just past the park you will find yourself on the ’Straight Mile’ which stretches out into the distance 60-feet above the town centre. At the end you turn into the Weavers’ Triangle, one of the best-preserved Victorian industrial townscapes in Britain, go to the visitor’s centre where you can find out about the history of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, learn about the cotton industry in Burnley and find out how the town used to close down for the annual wakes weeks holidays. From here you willl reach the 559 yard Gannow Tunnel where bargees used to leg the boats through as there was no room for the canal horses. Continuing out of Burnley don’t forget to call in at Hapton Boat Yard and Chandlery where you can take the opportunity to stock up on all your boating requisites and also see canal boats being refitted to the highest standards.