<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Lancashire Walk - Burscough Bridge

PUBLISHED: 00:00 30 October 2013

Burscough Bridge

Burscough Bridge

Keith Carter

Keith Carter finds all three modes of transport but chooses to walk (most of the way at least) on this route from Burscough Bridge

Rufford Canal Rufford Canal

Burscough Bridge sits astride three major arteries on the map, the A59 Preston to Southport road, the railway line linking Manchester with Southport and the Leeds Liverpool Canal known among the narrow-boat fraternity as one of the most scenic canals in England. For walkers too, the canal offers a fine opportunity for indulging their favoured pastime and to walk the whole distance in stages is held to be an achievement to be proud of. Canal walking has one great advantage in that there is hardly any gradient but this is not always desirable, the walking eventually becoming a little monotonous.

Having said that, there is always something to see. If I had the time I’d like to do a survey on canal towpaths, how many people use them and for what purpose; fishing, jogging, cycling, idling, dog walking and, for narrow boat enthusiasts, mooring and tidying up. They are always busy doing something to their spotless craft.

This month’s walk was rather a convalescent one for me having done my ankle in on a badly laid flagstone so I had to watch where I placed my foot. Parking beside the bridge at Burscough Bridge I joined the towpath and headed east, that’s with the water to my right, at first passing a line of moored narrow boats before leaving the built-up area behind, including the derelict flour mill to the right just before Bridge 36b where the canopy over the wharf is still intact.

We soon meet the junction of the main canal and the branch to Rufford, a seven mile spur now used as part of the Ribble Link, connecting the Leeds Liverpool with the Lancaster Canal via Savick Brook and the River Ribble, opened in 2002 with the aid of a £6m grant. Previously the Lancaster Canal was isolated from the main canal system.

I’m always on the alert for birds and butterflies and when I researched this walk I saw somebody coming towards me whom I took for a twitcher judging by the long-lens camera in a shoulder-bag. I paused to ask if he had seen a kingfisher. “No,” he replied, “why do you ask?”

I indicated the camera sticking out of his bag. He glanced at it and remarked “you need more than an umbrella to see a kingfisher.”

Hmm. It had certainly looked like a camera.

Hereabouts World War Two pillboxes are common. It seems they were part of the defences of a secret establishment where tests were carried out to see if rocket fuel could be made from raw sewage. You can probably draw your own conclusion as to the outcome to these experiments. We pass swing bridges and the Ring o’ Bells pub where once upon a time Liverpool’s ‘nightsoil’ was unloaded for use on the local fields. This is market garden country but I noticed one huge field that had an almost perfect greensward laid, good enough for the outfield at Lord’s Cricket Ground. A tractor towing a six-gang mower was at work and a machine for lifting turf which it rolled onto swiss rolls and stacked on pallets. That would suit my lawn nicely.

One tends to forget that once canals were solely an industry, a total working environment, the thousands employed on their maintenance and operation never considering for a moment that they would one day be used entirely for leisure. Working people hardly had any leisure. The Leeds Liverpool’s main purpose was in bringing coal to feed Liverpool’s industries from the Wigan coalfield and an entire community existed on the waterways system. A walk along a canal towpath is a walk through history and the work done by the British Waterways Board to keep us informed is quite admirable really, the interpretative panels giving an insight to the working of the canals in times past.

Arriving at Parbold basin there is further evidence of the early industry in the converted windmill hard by the canal bridge. I turned left and walked down to the station limping a bit after four miles or so from Burscough Bridge. The level crossing gates were down and a train approaching so I decided a lift wouldn’t do any harm. Alighting at Burscough Bridge, I went to pay the guard for my few minutes ride but he waved me away, having no ticket machine with him. I thanked him for my free ride and went looking for a coffee which I found at Infusions on Orrell Lane, a smart establishment with a nice choice of cake but alas no Rocky Road.

Although only an hour and a half long this walk will give a lot of pleasure if you’re short of time and need to stretch your legs. The canal scenery is always changing and there are several places for a pit-stop if you’re so inclined. If catching the train back seems like cheating, you can always walk both ways.

Compass points

Area of walk: Burscough Bridge

Distance: 4 miles

Time to allow: 1 ½-2hrs

Map: OS Explorer 285 Southport and Chorley

Refreshments: Infusions, Orrell Lane, Burscough Bridge.

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 09:41

Rebekka O’Grady and photographer John Cocks meet some of the new independent businesses calling Southport home

Read more
Monday, February 12, 2018

How many of these local landmarks can you recognise?

Read more
Quiz Spring
Friday, February 9, 2018

Plans for around 600 new houses to be built in pretty Wyre village

Read more
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

John Lenehan toasts the re-opening of a Lancashire engineering landmark and notes an invention to revive any walker.

Read more
Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Kirkby Lonsdale sits on the spot where Lancashire, Yorkshire and Westmorland meet, making it a great base to explore the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. All these walks start of within a ten mile radius of Kirkby Lonsdale, making them a perfect day trip for anyone staying close to the historic market town.

Read more
Kirkby Lonsdale
Monday, February 5, 2018

From businesses selling banjoes to bridalwear from a former New York costume designer, Colne is a town for all seasons. Mairead Mahon reports.

Read more
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lake District walks dominate the top ten of Britain’s 100 list.

Read more
Lake District Lake District Walks
Friday, January 26, 2018

Barrow was built on hard graft but there’s plenty of beauty to be found as well, as Mike Glover reports


Read more
Thursday, January 25, 2018

Despite its bad reputation, the cuckoo has been a great and clever survivor in the wild. However, numbers have dipped since the 1970s. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright investigates this iconic spring bird.

Read more
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Many of us are frustrated by our inability to swim well. Sarah Hill did something about it and now helps others. She spoke to Roger Borrell.

Read more
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Celebrate the historic waterways of Lancashire with one of these canalside walks that allow you to enjoy the countryside and witness echoes the the county’s industrial past.

Read more
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Their football clubs both wear navy blue and white strips, but how well can you identify landmarks in Bolton and Preston?

Read more
Preston Bolton Quiz
Friday, January 12, 2018

Spring is not too far off and that’s the time when the birds start getting noisier in our woodlands. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright investigates a couple of the stars of the Dawn Chorus.

Read more
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

John Lenehan selects a relatively gentle walk to blow away the post-Christmas cobwebs

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search