ANYONE who has walked or cycled any distance of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal will know it is a constantly changing landscape.

Within just an hour, you can leave behind a busy town centre and a bustling towpath, and be walking on your own, through peaceful countryside, watching kingfishers, swans and perhaps you may even be lucky enough to see an otter plunging in and out of the water.

Photographer Andrew Fitzgibbon has walked the entire 127 miles of the 200 year old canal and has made a short film of what he saw - from a floating Polytunnel on the canal in Skipton to the marking of his territory with a flag by a proud Yorkshireman living just across the border in Barnoldswick.

The film, Drifting by the Leeds and Liverpool, which is narrated by actor Paul Butterworth, who appeared in The Full Monty and Strike, is, says Andrew, an attempt to show the waterway, which passes through large parts of Craven, from Lancashire to West Yorkshire, in its all its complex and everyday condition.

Not for him the usual, familiar pastoral scenes of trees reflected in the water, of its many picturesque bridges and locks, or ducks and swans drifting peacefully along the canal; his pictures show life lived along the canal, the industrial mills, now converted into desirable homes, and the more modern houses built alongside the towpath.

Andrew, who lives in Cowling, says he wanted to show a different side to the canal, much of which in Craven has been made much more accessible to walkers and cyclists following the upgrade of large sections of the towpath by the Canal and River Trust and Craven District Council, and other partners.

“I wanted to show the stories, and the characters, and the passing of time. It’s a complex picture, almost an expression of Northern grit. The motivation was to tell a different story” he says.

What he found interesting in life along the canal was the more unexpected, what some might think as the 'ramshackle'.

“The floating Polytunnel is behind Merrit and Fryers on the canal, and had a great visual appeal to me - like some kind of post-industrial wedding marquee,” he says, and of a canalside house in Barnoldswick, he says: “I love how this proud Yorkshireman had marked out his territory in Lancashire.”

Although no people feature in the film, Andrew says that the traces left in the landscape form a portrait of life along the canal.

“There is a ruined mill’s struggle for redevelopment, or a make-shift garden house at the water’s edge that contrasts with the redevelopment in the cities of Leeds and Liverpool,” he says.

“I hope that viewers will be encouraged to take a closer look at things that often go unnoticed and discover beauty and stories in the run-of-the-mill.

“Being free to wander again after the long months of pandemic lockdown certainly offers the chance to look at everyday landscapes with fresh eyes."

The canal was built in the mid to late 18th century. It has 91 locks and took 50 years to build.

The first section, from Bingley to Skipton, opened in 1773, a year later, the section from Skipton to Shipley was completed. It was finally completed in 1816.

Andrew is a final year BA photography student with the Open College of Arts, Barnsley, and is also a member of Skipton based Craven Arts.

He has asked people viewing the film to share their memories of the canal - one viewer wrote how it sparked childhood memories of being lost on the canal and how they had traded football cards for the bus fare home.

“Someone else contacted me with the tragic story of a grandfather who had ended his own life on the canal, shortly following the death of his wife,” he says.

Andrew now hopes that others will watch and share their experiences to shape a photo book and future exhibition of the photographs.

Yorkshire based poet, Ian McMillan, is also quoted in the film’s narrative and tweeted, ‘really good film:enjoyed it very much!’

Andrew is also hoping that people will like the film so much that they will donate money to Skipton Food Bank.

Drifting by the Leeds and Liverpool can be viewed for free at

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