J lives near Wigan in Lancashire which is a surprisingly picturesque area. Surprising because of it's industrial heritage and mining history. The leader of the walking group, Douglas, was a keen local historian which really made a difference to the walk as he talked about the local history. Sounds boring? I promise it wasn't.
We were a small group of 8 people. I think J and I were probably the youngest, and J's mum had also come along. She is an amazingly fit 79 year old, and seemed quite comfortable with the length of the walk although she said "miles seemed to be a lot shorter" when she was younger.
When we arrived at the town where the fête was being held, we could see the canal path that we would return along.
We walked back along the canal towpath, which would originally have been for horses to use as they pulled the barges full of coal. The Leeds-Liverpool Canal was built (do you build canals?) around about 1794, and as the main industry in the area was coal mining the canals were used to transport the coal.
At one point our Douglas pointed out that we were standing in a spot where we could see how the history of transport had developed.
In the foreground you can see the canal, which was used for transporting coal in the 18th century. In the far middle distance you can just see a white railway bridge which would have transported the coal in the 19th century, and then at the top of the photo is the 20th century equivalent, the motorway. Three centuries of history in one photo. Well, I was impressed anyway!
I love the name of this barge!
It was a hot day, and we passed these cows cooling off in a shallow part of the canal. Earlier we had also happened upon young boys jumping into the canal, which is strange enough in these safety conscious days, but these boys were naked. Yup. Boys of around 10 or 12 in their birthday suits. I was so taken aback I nearly squashed a toddler in the canal's swing gate (don't ask). Actually, I did squash him but he was OK, thank goodness. I blame the nekkid boys.
So, a very pleasant afternoon was had by all, my walking shoes are well and truly broken in and two days later my legs are still feeling the effect of the walk.