Jo’s Monday walk – the canal beat

Probably the area of Leeds with which I’m most familiar, the Leeds-Liverpool canal dawdles through the city centre in a timeless meander. The growl of background traffic, and hammering from new buildings, creeping skyward, hasn’t succeeded in destroying this peaceful haven though, to hapless walkers, bicycles and skateboards are an ever present threat. Still, it’s the area of Leeds that I’m most at home with. Whenever I’ve an hour or two to idle, waiting for my son and partner to finish work, or keeping the youngster entertained, I gravitate here. To absorb the changes since my last visit.

Just behind the railway station lies a beautiful canal basin, with locks where you can watch the narrowboats test their navigation skills. Trains constantly rumble by. The canals were once the transport hub, and the means by which coal and cargo from the woollen mills was carried through the city, on the 127 mile journey to Liverpool. These days the narrowboats are mostly for leisure. A family of swans have made their home in this exact same spot for the last several years, and I’m not the only one who’s happy to see them.

The lily pads too are thriving. Canal people must be amongst the friendliest in the world, always happy to return a wave as they drift past. A couple sit chatting by the waterside, a retriever blissfully stretched out between them. ‘Is the kettle on?’ I ask. They nod and smile, waving me to a stool if I want to join them.

Apartments reach for the sky, echoing the mill chimneys but without their style and grace. Graffiti finds a natural home in the tunnels and under bridges. From the city centre out to Kirkstall Abbey is about 4 miles along the towpath, and can be broken around the halfway mark with a visit to Leeds Industrial Museum.

Peep through the ornate railings at the River Aire, flowing smoothly alongside the canal to join it in the city centre. You have to weave in and out behind the buildings, butting up against canal history, modern architecture and fast trains.

Free entertainment is on hand at the Royal Armouries. A Samurai demonstration, wild west gunfighters and a display of mounted tournament skills are among the events on offer as we pass by. Or you can hop on a river taxi to observe life at water level.

In the opposite direction the footpath passes an eco housing development, beyond which lies an industrial estate. Old mills with their shabby walls provide ample opportunity for more grafitti. I tease small boy, who has never heard of ET! A gap in his education perhaps, or a sign of age in me.

Something rather wonderful happens to us along this stretch of the river. The bikes and boarders still hustle past but, in a quiet moment, a young woman tells us ‘Look over there! There’s something for you on that fence’. Bemused, the youngster looks, and finds a small see-through bag, looped around a fence post. Inside it, a blue crochet worm with a winsome expression. A small piece of paper tells us that this is Winifred, the Worry Worm, donated by Random Acts of Crochet Kindness. We look back and the lady waves, and continues on her way. Wreathed in smiles, so do we.

I hope you enjoyed wandering the canal banks with me. I’m back home in the Algarve now, but these next several weeks will be full of memories from my summer visit to Leeds. I enjoyed every second because it’s 2 years since I was last there. I am reinstating Jo’s Monday walk on my new blog, but there’s no compunction to join in. I simply enjoy showing you my world.

Have a good week, and see you next time!

walking logo

70 thoughts on “Jo’s Monday walk – the canal beat

  1. Lovely… any place with water nearby is a treasure! The worry worm is such a clever way to spread random acts of kindness. We find a lot of rocks painted with that sort of thing around here. Sending messages of love and kindness. πŸ’•

    Like

  2. The network of canals always seems so English to me. There was a subculture of boats on the rivers in north India and the Bengal delta; carts along country roads and boats on the rivers sufficed for trade. In colonial times the British tried to build a few canals in the south, but it never worked out. I suppose it needs the land to lie just so, to be able to connect small towns. Railways turned out to be more suitable here. Glad to see a bit of it from your photos.

    Like

    • It’s a very small country in relation to yours so I suppose the obstacles are more surmountable. I’m always drawn to water but there is a fascination to trains, going round those sinuous curves. Many thanks to you for following me here.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed your stroll on the Leeds part of the canal and look forward to more stories from your trip. I visited Leeds decades ago and chiefly remember it for a quirky teapot I really wanted did not buy. It was an arty one and there was no way I could afford it.

    Like

  4. You beat me to it, I was about to Follow you! Thank you very much Jo.

    I wonder why Margaret is not a fan of the Reader? I’m the opposite, although I have an e-mail address just for WP the inbox becomes full very quickly so I prefer to read posts via the Reader links and visit sites directly.

    I’m so pleased to have met you, Jo and I’m glad you haven’t given up on blogging. πŸ™‚

    Like

    • The Reader is my guilty pleasure and morning treat to myself, Sue, when I know I should be doing something more useful like a Portuguese lesson. No self discipline, you see! The Inbox was driving me crazy. Determined not to lose my life to blogging this time around but I do sometimes need a kick up the bum! Thanks for following too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! The dreaded inbox!
        Morning is my time for the reader too
        I’ve just come out the other side of a guilty stage. I felt awful if I didn’t comment on everyone’s post immediately. I’m now training my mind to take it easy, if I miss an odd post it’s okay, no one is going to condemn me!

        Like

  5. thank you for pointing me here, Jo! i’m glad you had a lovely walk perhaps even sentimental in a place close to heart. many interesting sightings along the way and the canals are charming and peaceful. i would love to have a boat ride! thank you for taking me along and welcome back!

    Like

    • It used to be a once a year place for me, for Christmas shopping because it always had great atmosphere in the market area. These days it’s a compulsory visit whenever I can. Thanks so much for following along, Carol.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. How beautiful, I’ve always wanted to either buy or rent one of those boats and travel up and down the river after watching an episode of Morse on TV. I am fascinated by the boats and how fun it would be to live on one. I also loved the murals that you shared along the way, too. Thanks for that.

    Like

    • Same here! I always had a fancy for the Canal du Midi trip through France but the nearest I got was a tethered one in Reading. Something to dream about πŸ€—πŸ’• Many thanks for your company!

      Like

  7. Glad you had a good time in Leeds. A walk by the canals is always pleasant. Lovely murals, and I liked the little crochet worm, very cute.
    Thanks for your link leading me to your new blog. I’ve added it to reader feed.
    I’ve also added this post to Monday Murals, hope you don’t mind. Keep well Jo. I’m looking forward to a trip to Darwin at the end of this week, it’s been so long since I was on a plane…

    Like

    • That’s great, Sami! I didn’t want to lose touch with you but I didn’t want to presume too much either. Thanks a lot! It’s been the strangest time, hasn’t it? Hope all are well in your family. πŸ€—πŸ’•

      Like

  8. Canals and in-city rivers are wonderful escapes from noise and bustle, and this one is no exception! I almost felt my breathing slow down as I read about your stroll. I’m happy you finally got to visit your son, too; it’s been a long haul for all of us with family in far places.

    Like

  9. What a splendid walk. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Leeds, but anything to do with canals is fine by me. I think it’s the necessity to slow down and relax that I appreciate, and I think that experience goes beyond those on the boats.

    Like

  10. So pleased you sent me the link Jo. I never visited Leeds when I lived in the UK, it seems a hundred years ago now!! in fact hardly visited anywhere in the 1950’s, so this was a real eye opener. I thought, if I thought at all, of Leeds in terms of industry, dirty, noisy and grimy and of course the Beatles. So loved this walk along the canals with you. Ending with that delightful crochet worm. Good to see you back. Now to see if I can connect you to my reader…πŸ€”

    Like

  11. Ah, Leeds, my city. My step granddad drove a barge on the Leeds-Liverpool.Is drove the right term?

    Anyway I think his cargo was coal and as a small child I occasionally accompanied him. I also remember standing with my mother at the side of the canal, just off Whitehall Road and waving my flag at the queen as her barge made its way along the canal.

    My childhood was spent playing on the banks of the canal and the river, though not in the city centre. I loved the Leeds of my youth, the old impressive buildings and the arcades, dancing at the Mecca and the old department stores that are now gone.

    I dislike the new Leeds; in the name of progress the planners have spoilt it with their tall modern buildings, I rarely go into the city it has nothing for me any more but it is lovely to hear someone speak so well of it.

    Like

    • Lovely to hear from you, Sue! Leeds has changed a lot in the years I’ve known it, and I agree with you about the modern tend to high rise. I do like some of the architecture but I doubt I’d go there if it wasn’t where my son lives. I’m originally from Hartlepool on the north east coast and it’s my love of water that takes me to the canal banks every time. I’d love a holiday on a narrowboat. Many thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I like the canal of today and the modern barges are just gorgeous.
        Those areas needed regeneration.

        Although we’re still officially Leeds, my life in the countryside is worlds apart from the one I used to have.

        I enjoyed your post, Jo. thank you

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Leeds was an unexpected surprise. I always associated Leeds- Liverpool with the football clubs. Never really gave the place any thought so the walk was interesting. The photos too were perfect accompaniment to your words, Jo. I can visualise the place even better. As for Random acts of crochet kindness, I’ll be definitely googling it. Winifred was a fun find !

    Like

  13. Not an area of Leeds I know at all other than from your walks. Probably a bit too industrial and grimy in my time. It was my favourite city for clothes shopping though, as a teenager, much more exciting than Wakefield! Sorry to hear they are still looking. Seems to me that there are not many houses for sale at the moment. I have been casting my eye on areas a bit further east, but not much available.

    Like

  14. You’ve highlighted one of my favourite parts of Leeds. I loved it when it was somewhat hidden, neglected, largely unappreciated, and I love it still now that it’s smartened up and more colourful. Thanks for taking us along!

    Like

    • Mine too, Margaret! Not so fond of the hustle and bustle centre, but that’s where they live. Still trying to move out to pastures greener but struggling to find what they want in their price range.
      Presume you now have the link to follow by email? I enabled comments on all the pages but couldn’t see anywhere to add that.

      Like

  15. What a lovely walk! It is nice to see how our canals have been cleaned up and revitalised in recent years, and to see people out enjoying them (although I share your irritation at troublesome bikes in particular, which are a hazard on the Thames Path near us). I loved the street art and also spotted a nice piece of what I guess is ‘canal’ art, in the background of one of your water taxi photos πŸ™‚ And how lovely to be given a Worry Worm, what a super idea!

    Like

    • I love those storks, Sarah! And I was going to put a link in to the Random Acts of Crochet Kindness Facebook page because there are some lovely things on it, but I haven’t got my Facebook connection working yet on my laptop. Passwords, and all that! Thanks for your company. Have a good week!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s