England’s industrialised past has much to recommend it, particularly with respect to some of the ingenious structures it produced. Yesterday, we went for a walk at Canal Foot, a small industrialised village from a previous era to the present. Canal Foot is situated at the mouth of the tidal Leven estuary, where, on the very edge of the seawall, sits an ancient coaching inn, once the hostelry that provided both warmth and cheer to its patrons before they crossed treacherous shifting sands in horse-drawn carriages to the opposite Lancashire coast.
The Ulverston Canal at Canal Foot ‘is claimed to be the deepest, widest and straightest canal in the UK. It is entirely straight and on a single level.’ Built in 1796, the Ulverston Canal ‘was once the starting-point for steamers to Liverpool, passenger ships to Scotland and London, and cargoes of local slates that made their way to coastal towns around Britain.’ (visitcumbria.com/sl/ulverston-canal) Today, Canal Foot continues the tradition of its industrial heritage, with a humongous GlaxoSmithKline factory operating in a huge industrial park on one side of the canal. On the opposite side of the canal, where we walked, is open farmland overlooked by Cumbrian fells.
Remnants of Canal Foot’s industrial heritage remain, not least in the disused railway tracks that cross the concreted footpath on which we walked. Nonetheless, the canal itself teems with birdlife, and we saw an uncountable number of swans and their young and pairs of ducks swimming in its cold deep waters. The water is also home to species of fish good for some angling sport.
Canal Foot reminded me of how nature and industry can co-exist and yet look right together – provided the latter respects and nurtures the former. Despite the size of the GlaxoSmithKline plant, the air was good, and what animal life we saw looked like it was thriving. Walkers walked their dogs, and a farmer walked his horse.
Although Canal Foot may not be situated within the boundaries of the Lake District National Park, it nevertheless has its own areas of particular charm. Nearby Ulverston is known as the home of Laurel and Hardy, and that is practically next door to the Lake District National Park itself. From Bowness on Windermere, where our Lake District Bed and Breakfast, Blenheim Lodge, sits elevated upon a Lakeland fell, it was but a 30-minute drive to Canal Foot – and that includes getting lost on the way there!
‘Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’
Visit our website: www.blenheim-lodge.com
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