Thursday, 27 January 2011

Introducing my stretch of the Leeds to Liverpool canal

My Canal Landmarks
This is my home turf and this is where I do most of my photography.  I chose it because this seems to be the territory of the mating swans and ducks, they tend to move back and forward between the Five Rise Locks and Lingfield Wharf.  To make it easier later on I thought I would point out some significant landmarks for you.  All these refer to landmarks on the north bank, the opposite bank to the tow path.
The canal is the Leeds to Liverpool canal and my bit stretches from the outskirts of Bingley to the swing bridge at Lingfield Wharf.  The stretch I call home is less than two miles long and begins at the top of the Five Rise Locks at Bingley.  Walking away from Bingley, above the locks is the cafe where the wildfowl know they will find a ready supply of food during the summer months.  Indeed the owner of the cafe has been known to supply stale bread and cakes for visitors to feed them.
Next comes some barge moorings and the bottom of house gardens.  There is a small wooden pier, more boat moorings and then the boat yard.   Next door is  the Airedale Boat Club then more boat moorings, some of them permanent homes.  Grumps the mute swan is not averse to waking up the residents with a tap on the window to be fed.  This area is where the three Swedish ducks are most often found.
The end of the moorings is marked by twisted barb wire and opens up to the green field site known as Greenhill.  At the beginning of this stretch is an old hawthorn tree, and down to the canal side, tunnocks provide good cover for young moorhens. Greenhill stretch up away from the canal and is home to a flock of domestic geese, now wild.  They are mainly white Embden geese, brown Toulous geese, a greylag goose and various hybrid offspring.  There are about 40 permanent residents, the origins of whom were escapees from nearby allotments.    
This section goes from the end of the boat moorings to the swing bridge at Micklethwaite Wharf and includes a curve shallow area that at one time was a turning point for canal boats.  There is a lot of discarded rubble and concrete here from the time when there were landings for the mills here. 
On the other side of the swing bridge, the old Airedale Mills have been converted into homes, mainly flats, with small grassed gardens that are favourites of the Canada geese for grazing.  The end of the accommodations is marked by more old concrete landings, the bottom of the bramble field and various bushes and low trees. 
Next to that is what I call the reeds. This is a lush grass and reed area that has beautiful water lilies and wild irises in summer.
Next is the allotments and then a wooded area, a narrow stripe, a small coppice, with a steep bank leading up to a green field where some of the geese like to graze.  This wooded area had a lot of branches over-hanging the canal making it ideal cover for wildlife.
This ends where there is a concrete weir, the edge of the canal has a concrete shelve that drops down into a culvert for runoff. 
After that is a grassy bank, part of a garden for the house at Lingcroft Wharf and then there is the swing bridge over the road to East Morton.
So, for the purposes of my observations and photography along my stretch of the canal these are the landmarks I will refer to along our journey:
Five Rise Locks (includes the top of the locks, the cafe and the first boat moorings.)
The pier
The boat yard
The boat club
The barges
Greenhill and Micklethwaite wharf
Airedale mills
The bramble field
The reed bed
The allotments
The coppice
The weir
Lingcroft garden
Lingcroft wharf
Here is a VERY rough map that isn't even remotely in scale but should give you some idea of the lay of the land.

CORRECTION: Lingfield should read Lingcroft


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