Barnsley Canal walk — June 2016
The walk started at Barugh green at the site of the 5 locks that had raised the canal to its summit level. The line of the top 3 locks has been incorporated into back gardens and Paul — never afraid to knock on a door — immediately found a resident who gave the group a good deal of information about the buildings, stables and houses that stood by the canal when it closed, sadly, apart from her house, now all gone. Further down the road Paul accosted the coal merchant who gave us a tour of the rear of his yard where the lock is still visible but infilled and has the village scout hut on the far side.
From here it’s possible to see the line of the canal and after a short walk under the railway and across fields (reclaimed opencast coal workings) we joined the towpath — at first next to a muddy ditch but then reeds and some water. It was a very pleasant walk along this stretch of the canal, running through farmland it was difficult to believe that it is so close to a busy town. The site of a bleach works and a very impressive colliery wharf wall was a sign that we were approaching Barnsley. A few more minutes walk along an infilled stretch of canal brought us to a very busy traffic system in the centre of which is the site of Barnsley Wharf. Now occupied by a B&M store the wharf wall complete with mooring rings can still be seen behind the store.
Next was the attractive junction with the Dearne and Dove Canal with its stop lock and site of lock cottage. At the junction are the remains of Canal House. We followed the Barnsley across the remains of the impressive aqueduct, the top of which had been demolished when it was declared unsafe, but a footpath has been constructed on the piers and is now part of the Dearne Valley Country Park.
The day had turned very warm and a climb up the hill to the Norman Inn was rewarded with a good pint. After lunch we followed the line of the Barnsley back to the country park where we saw the results of subsidence caused by the coal industry which the canal had served — the canal line dropping drastically at one point. Passing through the country park it was hard to believe that such peaceful and attractive surroundings was once a hive of industry and workers houses.
We finished the walk back on the Dearne and Dove at Hoyle Mill. Here the canal is infilled and very overgrown and we could only look down on it from an original bridge. Above us was Oaks Colliery with the only remaining pit head in the area, which had stood above us for much of the walk, a memorial to the 384 men and boys killed in England’s worst ever mining disaster in 1866.
Paul: Never afraid to knock at a door
The footpath built on the piers of the aqueduct
Just about to head up to the Norman Inn
Is there a canal down there?