Monday, 15 September 2014

Beauty and the Beast - by Jon Wilson

This is one of the first of what I hope is many Blog's from a few of Coastal Spirit's early and active clients.   Providing an insight to the depth and breath of what individuals are up to.  A core element of Coastal Spirit is enabling and facilitating individuals, to be able progress and move towards independence.   BIG thanks to Jon for this.  

Given some recent long journeys in cars and with a burning desire to get out and about in a sea kayak, I decided to look for some trips close to home in North Manchester. Following a quick search on the Canoe-England website I plumped for a trip on the Bridgwater Canal from Worsley to Manchester city centre, a round-trip of 16 miles. It is believed to be the first canal built in the UK and is over 250 years old. Canals are often given bad press as being boring but I decided that I could use the trip to see areas I know well from a different angle, practice my forward paddling technique and build up some stamina for upcoming sea trips.

Starting at Worsley (the ‘beauty’), I paddled through the orange coloured water, (orange from the old mine workings in the area), passing 18th century buildings such as the Packet House.

After overtaking a few canal boats and getting some funny looks from the locals who were obviously not use to seeing someone in a kayak, I soon got into a rhythm and arrived at the Barton aqueduct, built over the Manchester Ship canal in 1893:

A few miles further on and I soon encountered signs of ‘the beast’ i.e. industrial Manchester, the smell of malt as I passed the Kellogs factory making me feel hungry. Old Trafford soon loomed into view and I knew I wasn’t far from my destination. I arrived at Potato Wharf in Castlefield still feeling fairly fresh after 8 miles, so after a few minutes exploring the area passing bars and pubs I’ve often frequented (sadly no canalside service!), I turned round and headed back. On my return I saw Kingfishers, herons, swans and leaping fish despite the urban environment and at times you could forget where you were.

After a brief lunch stop to refuel (under a scenic road bridge to shelter from the rain!), I was soon back at the start. It was a great trip and I’d recommend anyone to check out what is close to home – canals can be interesting places, can provide a good workout and still be places to practice paddling skills.

Jon Wilson

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