Guest blog by Paul Kellett during lockdown 2021
A walk on the canal Todmorden to Hebden Bridge and back.
Today we ventured from Todmorden to Hebden Bridge. We were again ever so close to family members that live locally but restrictions mean we’re unable to call in. Nevertheless today’s leg seems to lean to a pirate theme of a way. Encountering a 3 legged dog for the purpose of this post we’ll call Long John Silver. We had to walk the plank and came across a shipwreck too. Along the towpath we navigated from lock number 19 down to lock number 9. It was a gentle decline into Hebden Bridge that had a considerable number of canal boats that were inhabited and lived in as main dwellings it seemed. Just outside of Hebden there was what I can only describe what I see and that was a vegan female canal boat living commune. Trying to be as diplomatic as possible it was lots of ladies in pastel and patterned clothing with dirty fingernails planting vegetables.
On the female theme in colourful clothing it was nice to see Wally from Where’s Wally paddle boarding along this stretch with a helper with her bucket for loose change. We gladly emptied our pockets and I think an out of circulation 50p piece might have gone in the bucket by mistake that I’d noticed in my change and failed to remove.
Once arriving in downtown Hebden (I wonder if the locals refer to it as that?) it was bustling with families seeking fresh air and food. There were plenty of street food stalls on offer. Practically all nations on representation. The smells were fantastic. There was a wood fired pizza stall we quite yearned for but realised that pizza was pre ordered from the new pizza place at Ancoats this evening. So we stuck to local fayre and found a bakery for a standard sausage roll and a sandwich. Highly recommended sandwich maker at Marshall’s bakery that included underused salad ingredient beetroot in the salad on my ham sandwich.
A little wander amongst the street food stalls saw a stall all the way from Leeds from an Italian restaurant that was bemoaning lockdown shutting his restaurant but admirably he got out and started to sell his desserts for us to enjoy. Continuing on the piracy theme we paid £12 for 2 x cannolis and 2 x almond biscuits. I’m sure they’ll be nice and I say this in jest and money well spent.
The walk back after refreshment was met with a little disappointment after passing an honesty box of a canal side seller offering jams and curds I’d spied a jar of lemon marmalade for £2. Having only shrapnel on the outward journey that ended up in Wally’s bucket I vowed to get cash for the return journey. We reached the makeshift kiosk to find it closed with jams and curds away for the night. Must be lots of dishonest types that lurk along the canal in the night time hours?
The mood perked up more on passing a cricket club just off the towpath. Plans have been made to make a return trip in the summer when the sunshine is out, take a return train from home to Todmorden, meander the path once more and then we can enjoy a few pints and game of cricket before returning home.
We walked roughly 10 miles today. The legs felt it today but not as much as the Summit leg. The wonders on technology allowed us to prop the phone up on a mooring post, sit on the lock gate and use the Apple Watch to take a photo of the pair of us.
We have one more leg to do from Hebden to Sowerby Bridge which makes me now wonder that if locals of Hebden Bridge do refer to their home as ‘Hebden’ do natives of Sowerby Bridge refer to their homestead as ‘Sowerby’ ??