Saturday, 18 January 2020

Summer Sunday stroll 4

Bingley to the Five Rise Locks
[Continuing my walk from Saltaire to Bingley along the towpath of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal] 

In the centre of Bingley, the canal towpath feels rather separate from the town. There are a few places where you can move between the two but, because the canal was moved sideways when the relief road was built, there are high walls between the canal, the roads and the railway. There are swans gliding along by the reed beds and the canal feels like an oasis of peace amid the bustle. 

A little further along, commerce intrudes as you pass the old mill that is home to Damart, maker of thermal underwear and now a large catalogue and mail order business. The canal is wider here - another winding hole and mooring spot before the long haul of the Three and Five Rise Locks. 

Snuggled against the wall of the mill, the canal is again lifted, 30ft (9m) this time, by the Three Rise Locks. This is a popular spot with fishermen. The fish must like to congregate in the pool at the base of the locks. 

Beyond the Three Rise, the towpath enters another leafy stretch, sweeping round a couple of bends, hugging the hillside, and offering lovely glimpses of wide-ranging views up the Aire valley. 

Then finally, you round a bend and see the full glory of the astonishing Five Rise Locks, one of the wonders of our waterways: the steepest staircase on the longest canal in the UK.  Built in 1774, they carry the canal another 60ft (18 m) higher, with five lock chambers to navigate. Because of their complexity and the amount of traffic they carry, a full time lock-keeper is employed here, who with the help of volunteers ensures the safety of both boaters and the gongoozling public. (A gongoozler is an affectionate term for people who enjoy watching the activity of boats and people along our canals. Me, I suppose!)


  1. I'm sure I'd join you in gongoozling also! Great shot of the locks, it boggles the mind how early engineers built these to lift boats up and down.

  2. I can see how those locks would be fascinating to watch!

  3. It's all quite lovely scenery, I think I'm a gongoozler like you too.

  4. Love that word, gongoozling. I would be a gonggoozler if I lived there. It looks so peaceful along the canal and hard to believe there is hustle and bustle not far away.

  5. Photo 2: Although marked with the black grime, the high stone wall to the right is completely new to me. What purpose does it serve? The land behind it used to belong to Glovers the coal dealers of Bingley. Next to the canal stood a large diesel fuel tank where Glovers' coal boats replenished. The ground is/ /was completely contaminated with coal dust and fuel. The purpose of this high wall is a mystery to me.