As you might know I am an Ambassador for Swifty Scooters , a premium uk adult kick scooter company. I also have an unusual love for Canal paths and traveling along them. So when it came time for me to push the Swifty scooter in another adventure and see what both me and the scooter could do Liverpool-Leeds Canal seemed the obvious choice.
The Canal is 200 years only and covers 127 miles varying between smooth suburban gravel & concrete, city tarmac and rural grassy paths, and on this occasion everything in-between too…
We got the train From London to Liverpool where the Swifty won its first test against my friends bikes, They’d not booked their bikes on the virgin train, now, I’ll not go into a 597 seat train and only 4 bikes space argument I’ll stick to the facts, swifty folded up and sat behind my seat no sweat at all.
Once In Liverpool and at Albert Dock we met with Team Swifty (Camilla & Jason) and took the two mile scoot to the start of the Canal which as the guide books mentioned is certainly in a place that could do with a little fluffing up! W got up the first hill three locks and then onto a blissfully quiet and smooth path, I smiled to myself with relief glad this felt the right decision to scoot this route..
In under two hours we’d scooted 13 miles, met new people, took photos and got sun burnt! PHEW! This was serious multi tasking scooting right here people!! We stopped in a pub as we’d ran out of Water, it was 3 pm and well a bank holiday also called for a cheeky shandy too..
Camilla had push on with us despite having not done this distance for a while and once cooled down she decided that a total of 16 miles training was enough for the day! Secretly I wish I’d of joined her at this point, Watching her and Jason Slowly drive off seemed the signal of this adventure to proceed as a boys only event, so, onward me Mirko & Simon went they were on bikes might I add so all a bit of a gaunt for them…..
The fears that I knew would arise during the 127 mile route soon came to light, canal path conditions. now I’m in no way saying that they are generally not suitable here people, just not the preferable surface for scooting on. Mountain bikes and walkers are fine no real issues. After the pub the path became a gravel lumpy mixed train with grassy paths with nothing more than a tacky mud strip as a path, the next ten miles were testing and once past 20 miles i soon realised that this might just be in for the whole path with the exception of the few cities we past through, so a major case of sucking it up and learning how to scoot on multi terrain was in order and fast..
We hit Wigan for 8 pm and the saviour of a delivery pizza outlet became not only our dinner but realisation that after trying to get served food in a few Canal pubs was an expectation we shouldn’t have set ourselves. Full and tiered we scooted the remaining few miles out the city to a secluded wood where i set about introducing newbie adventure addict Simon to the joys of just which patch of dark looking floor was ripe for sleeping on. Half and hour later and camp was set up, we were snug and happy and ready to receive the well earned sleep our days efforts had handed us.
Just as we crossed the bridge to head deep into the woodland we stopped for a few minutes to watch the very last of the sunset…
TAP TAP TAP, TAP TAP TAP, I wake up and sit bolt upright TAP TAP TAP arrgghhh dam rain, I check the time its 5,46 AM. I then remember I’ve a new super light weight tarp (430g) in my bag i’m get to use, i then turn into a child trying to frantically get the tarp up above us but in stealth ninja mode (yea me HONEST!) just as I’ve 99% got it up Mirko stirs to find himself under something that wasn’t their when he went to sleep, he mumbles something in that sexy Italian voice of his, I ask him to roll under the tarp and tell him its raining, he politely carry out my request and then drifts into his sleep again. Simon on the other hand, well no amount of water falling from the sky was going to wake this chap up, he is indeed built for the rough wild camp.
Suck it up and crack on day two..
It was always my intention to blow my boundaries out the water with our one full day of scooting, however it was still raining. By 7 we were awake and grunting awful manfully about having to get wet. By 7.30 I was becoming agitated and wanted to get on with getting wet and muddy very much in my suck it up and crack on style, A 9am start was decided on. Once packed up and trudging the painful 100 metres back to the canal we discovered that the rain had stopped and as I had secretly hoped it was just the wind in the tree tops shaking the water out!
Our first challenge was to figure out how we all scooted, slid & cycled along this moist muddy section of Canal path, with the Swifty blaitantly not designed for this train in mind it was becoming clogged with mud so quickly that every ten minute stops to dunk the back end (wash I mean wash) to remove the mud from the back brake, this also gave me a well earned rest.
Within a few hours or so the hunt for food became incessant between the group, quiet frankly dogs started to look a little tasty, sadly with it being a Sunday and a Bank Holiday Sunday at that, the frequecny of establishments that could possibly harbour our desires, to my surprise Mirko the one non English person in the group stumbled across a proper english cafe in Adlington, you know the ones that everything comes with four rounds of toast and a mug of tea that seemed bottomless…
Cut a long story short 45 minutes later we emerged from said cafe, quiet and clearly all suffering from a food coma, it must have taken us 15 minutes to unlock our forms of transport and get going again. I soon found my feet and once signs for Blackburn started to appear I was fully focused on pushing on and on where ever possible the path came good and blackburn soon became a blur although I didn’t let it known the thought of passing by Accrington really excited me, simply because of the old TV advert mentioning the football team. Once through we skirted the M65 for some time, and whilst this was lovely to have a focal point that differed from following the canal the noise was a stark interruption that the real world was still very much out there away from the canal..
We reached sunny Burnley by 4.30 a good time as we were 40 ish miles into the day and further than a Swifty had ever been scooted before. Learning our lesson from the previous day we decided (to my delight) to stop and refuel. A swift turn around was in hand as we’d found what seemed like Burnley’s premium burger joint, we all pointed and said yes to the menu. I threw my food downed then my body started to argue with my head, it really had relaxed and didn’t want to carry on at all. After having a argument with myself in the gents and washing my face over it was time to get going and aim for what seemed like an impossible 20 more miles to achieve the target 60 for the day. We opted to scoot through Burnley to stock up on supper and fluid, and then onto the canal path. Refreshed by the smooth tarmac (I’m openly a tarmac snob) once we hit the canal I was mad for it and wanted to smash these miles out, it was tough though with such beautiful surroundings and peaceful paths I wanted to keep stopping to grab a piece of this tranquility we’d found.
I knew our route and our wild camp options would be limited after a certain point so had ear marked a wood which was yes a little further away from leeds than I’d liked but it was the only one for possibly 15 or so miles. Once we got to the point we decided it was way to early and we should crack on (oh joy). Google maps came out and we found a little pub option that we decided to get a spurt on for, this was our low point of the trip once reaching its truly stunning location we found out it closed at 5pm on Sundays, no seriously 5pm, we were low, tired & hungry again. Setting off knowing we had nothing for ages was a tough call. Dragging our recently spat our dummies we headed off only to quickly find our next hour was pretty much down hill and fairly smooth around Bank Newton, we flew it was like being in the bike group from the goonies (HEY YOU GUYS!!) our adrenaline was pumping we smiled and were happy oh so happy, then it all fell on its face. The path resembled scooting over freshly brewed tea bags it was now past 8 pm and day light was fading fast, I’m sure though for most people having done an adventure this is the best time of the day, searching for something that might possibly look like home for the night..
We made the call to sleep on what seemed like a disused farmers field right on the canal just south of Gargrave, close to the A65 we managed to get through the gate and found the most flat lush looking spot of grass we could, I wasted no time in throwing up the tarp and climbing inside and hunkering down out of the wind. The group seemed closer this time, we were fed, had spare food, it was still light and after scooting a record 60 miles + the city of leeds was well an achievable point now. spirits were high although tired today I felt we’d bonded!
Bank Holiday funday Monday
As always I woke first, I was used to this I seem to have an internal clock, I made enough quiet noise to stir the others and started to focus everyone on todays task of breakfast and then hitting leeds for early afternoon. by 7.30 we were packed gathered and ready or not on our way! First issue to contend was fuel, ok ok maybe I just like to eat alright?
We scooted into Skipton before 9am to realise it was a Bank holiday, and yea everywhere was closed, apart from a tasty lush hotel. Mirko managed to convince them to serve us bacon sandwiches and drinks to their displeasure.. We might have help ourselves to the odd glass of juice too (sshh its a secret) re fuelled and energised again we plodded on. I was now able to have a village by village count down Silsden, Riddlseden, Bingley then the mighty Shipley Head phones were in and serious knuckle down time. Sadly soon after breakfast Simon left us to crack on and catch his train home, leaving Mirko as my faithful sidekick (not tonto style) Once through Bingley we relaxed a little as Shipton was a stones throw away from Leeds. We’d arranged to and I was desperate to at some point find one outstanding place to stop for coffee, take stock of things and just be for half an hour.. We both stumbled across Roberts Park, now if your local leeds this is worth a visit for a day out, A cycle to Shipton and the area a tidy lunch and lazy ride home.
Anyway, we found our coffee and a spot of grub again, I know I know! We watched Families playing football, people walking dogs and enjoying the most of this extra days annual leave from the jobs many people hate. Soon we both looked at each other knowing this was it at some point we’d have to get the last 10 or so miles done.. Id felt pressured on this trip I knew very little of the path conditions and what was possible to achieve on this scooter, this really was an exploratory trip for me and the scooter, and we bonded, But once through Shipton I knew that was it, i could kick back stop to take pics and just relax about the whole thing. And this small section between this small town and Leeds was just stunning, the opposite banks filled with grassy banks and beds of bluebells sitting under tree’s perfectly planted by natures hands itself.
We stopped, took pictures, drank the last of our drink and took it all in, the kind smiling friendly people the clear clean air and happy families on the obligatory Bank holiday morning walk. This is why I’d wanted to come and do this, this is why I love canals so much this feeling of togetherness and community all here to walk by the water which somehow is able to trick us into believing this is something more than just a 200 year old stretch of man made industrial pathway with no other real purpose than to transport goods and people.
I stopped to take the last of the sign post pictures, as I became sad that this trip was so soon coming to an end, I was really just getting settled in to the routine Wake, Scoot, Eat, Scoot, Eat, Scoot, Camp, Sleep & Repeat.
Soon enough our last bend came and went as did the the bridge which would later be our route out of the city, their it lay before us a end. Nothing more to scoot, no where else to be, no purpose in the day no focus or reason to be. I’d done it, I’d traveled the length of the Liverpool-Leeds canal by swifty scooter all 127 miles of it, the first and most likely the last time this would ever be done. But put into context this was a teaser just a quick weekend scoot for what I’ve got in mind..
We hugged and made our way to the station to find a more relaxing way to travel, Mirko left for London and I left for yet another city, this time Manchester and to the Swifty Scooter head office where the magic happens..
I’ve really enjoyed using this scooter its usable as a long distance machine if you’ve got the time you want to make the effort, but where this excels its in what its designed for, short duration scoots in towns and cities, that two miles drive you do to work or the station to catch a train. These scooters are twice as fast as walking much much more fun and take out many of the complications of cycling. many times over the weekend whilst the guys on bikes were always going to be faster, I was able to get straight on the train, no space booking. I could easily carry it up and down steps, take it into pubs and slide it through the gates that stop motor bikes using canal paths. Swifty on a day to day level is effortless, not just that it adds value, gives you time back you’d normally waste faffing. Now yes I know I’m an ambassador for Swifty, but thats because I believe in this product, it works for what I need, it’s fun, makes me happy. Further more this is a Family run business built from passion, idea’s and hard work they’ve put their lives into making these scooters and it shows from the paint jobs to how its packaged, and for me the icing on the cake is they’re a British brand, they have values, they employ a Apprentice and have a dog in the work shop. The true value of a product is how it makes you feel and these scooters make life easier and make me smile every single time I get on one…