Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

– Walt Whitman, ‘Song of the Open Road’

Introduction

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is the longest canal in Northern England at 127 miles.  It passes through 91 locks with a summit level of 487 feet. The towpath offers a great long distance walk, from the banks of the Mersey in Liverpool through superb scenery to the very centre of Leeds. In March 2009, with the opening of the canal link at Liverpool’s Pier Head, I decided to attempt the walk.

Canal link

Stages

Links

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31 thoughts on “Walking the Leeds-Liverpool canal

  1. Is this the Gerry Cordon who I met at some of the Liverpool Uni/Dylan related things many years ago? You used to buy albums from me at my shop ..Hot Wax in Moorfields in the mid 70’s? Saw your link re MLK on Expecting Rain. Love the site and about to delve more into it t

    1. Well there might be more than one! I have a vague memory of the Uni Dylan events, and I did occasionally call in at Hot Wax, but I have to admit I made most of my purchases from Geoff in Probe. Thanks for reading, Chris.

      1. I’m going to walk the L&L shortly. Going to do Blackburn to Leeds first and other half some different time. Gerry, could you cadd milage of each stage above ?? Which one is the longest stage above and how long ?? I would like to adjest a walk to 10-12 miles per day.

      2. I didn’t do it all in one go, but in separate walks, using public transport until I got too far from home, then driving to the start point and using bus or train to get back to it. As you can see, I did it in 12 stages, not all the same length, but averaging around 12 miles. I recommend the Collins Nicholson Waterways Guide 5, North West & Pennines which has OS maps of each stage. Hope that helps. It’s a great walk!

    1. Hi, Ken. I didn’t do it all in one go, but in separate walks, using public transport until I got too far from home, then driving to the start point and using bus or train to get back to it. As you can see, I did it in 12 stages, not all the same length, but averaging around 12 miles. Hope that helps. It’s a great walk!

  2. Caught train from Ormskirk to Old Roan and walked along the canal into Liverpool ……………..great walk about 10 miles ……last bit along the road into city to catch train from Liverpool central back to Ormskirk …….,,found this web site very useful thankyou and looking forward to doing other sections

    1. Thanks Val – hope you enjoy the rest of the walk. I found the best way to plan sections was to use the Collins-Nicholson Waterways Guide – North West & Pennines. It has strips from the OS maps, mileages, every bridge numbered, and most important details of pubs where you can eat in the vicinity of the canal.

  3. Hi Gerry. I’m about to start planning a sponsored walk along the canal for my colleagues and I. The info here has been a useful start – particularly the average of 12 miles a day. Some will be doing the walk in total and some in sections. I will get the Collins-Nicholson waterways guide as you suggest. Will let you know how it goes .

  4. Hi, has anyone done this in one walk, myself and my nephew have been talking about it for a while and where both eager to see if we can conquer the walk in one, any advice for or against our planned adventure?

  5. Hi I want to do the walk in one hit, are there any pubs / inns to stop at enroute overnight ?
    cheers

    1. Andy there are lots of canalside pubs along the way, but I don’t know which do overnight accommodation. I’m sure many do.

  6. Thanks Gerry, I quote “One Picture Worth Ten Thousand Words” enjoyed both your picture and wonderful narration, it’s very inspiring, really helpful for people like me who would like to complete it in stages! Thanks again!

  7. Hi I am thinking of doing this route for charity. Is it easy to navigate. I am presuming you just follow the canal and won’t need to stop to check maps too often?

    1. Absolutely, Hayley – but if you do want to carry a map/guide to work out exactly where you are and where to stop for a drink or a bite I’d recommend the Collins/Nicholson Waterways Guide 5: North West & Pennines.

  8. Hi Gerry, I am planning to do the LL Canal in June of this year. Hoping to do the whole length in 6 days, any advice on places to eat?

  9. I did the whole of the Leeds liverpool canal walk for Diabetes UK in 2005. Did it in 5 days total on my own with a little rucksack and just hear necessities staying at prebooked b&b’ s all fthe way paid by doing a car Google the day before my quest to Leeds from Liverpool Lime street. What a hard task but to this day compared, the few pints paid by strangers and bags of jelly beans I will never forget this experience for the rest of my life. People have their own reasons.. …it helped mine. 🖒and helped others. It’s fab do it.

  10. I did the whole of the Leeds liverpool canal walk for Diabetes UK in 2005. Did it in 5 days total on my own with a little rucksack and just bear necessities staying at prebooked b&b’ s all the way paid by doing a carboot the day before my quest to Leeds from Liverpool Lime street trsin station . What a hard task but to this day, the few pints paid by strangers and bags of jelly beans I will never forget this experience for the rest of my life. People have their own reasons.. …it helped mine. 🖒and helped others. It’s fab do it.

    1. Hi Fee. I am planning to do this walk soon. How did you find all your B&B’s before the walk please. Most sites I’ve read did it in stages. I plan to walk around 14-16 miles a day. Any advice you can give would be amazing. Thanks.

  11. I am planning to walk Liverpool to Leeds direction over 6 days in April. I have a camper van I can work my way along the route and the train connections look good to get me back to my bed each night.Just turned 60 so it will make good use of my newly acquired seniors railcard !
    I have previously walked the Grand Union and Trent-Mersey. However these were completed in odd days here and there whereas I will be doing this in `one hit` so to speak,

    1. Hi Roger, I am walking the same direction but using Premier Inn’s for sleeping. Being 73 I will be using my senior rail card to get to Liverpool. Please let me know how you get on

  12. Have just completed 112 miles from Liverpool to Bingley over 6 days. Didn’t quite make the last 15 miles into Leeds with the time I had. The transport links along the route are all very good if you need to get back to your base location each night. The bit I didn’t properly factor in was the extra 20 miles I clocked up between canal entry/exits, railway stations and campsite. Couple of blisters, aching legs, and I’ve now written off my walking boots but it was definitely worth it.

  13. Finished walking the whole length on June 11th, did it in 6 days. The weather was fantastic, sunshine the whole way. Mis-calculated my third day, South Chorley to Burnley, I calculated 26 miles it turned out to be just shy of 30. Very enjoyable experiance, looking for another challange suitable for a 73 year old.

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