Our exciting new digital poetry project, Connect2Poetry, is coming very soon – watch this space!  View a map of the walking routes, get the app, and see the poems and photos other people have created using the app.

The app helps you to create your own instant poems, while you’re out for a walk along the Connect2 network of paths and cycle routes around Rochdale.  Keep fit and creative – what more could you ask for!

Meanwhile – here’s a rundown of some of the exciting events coming up as part of the project – why not join us?

In co-operation with Turn On SocialThe Maskew Collection,  CTC Rochdale,  and Just Poets

Here’s where you can find the poetry plaques:

  • Boarshaw Lock and Bridge

    On this towpath, lost in thought
    Lift up your eyes to sights ahead
    Slow reedy water to horizon
    Imagine what could be instead

    Thinking of past times, gone away now
    When barges toiled up here and down
    Bringing our cotton and other wares
    From docklands in a distant town

    And now there’s just this humpback bridge
    Deep dank lock no longer used
    History lives on in old black stones
    Beauty around is still to be viewed

    © Ann Robinson, 2013


  • Motorway bridge, Broad Lane

    Seven Guardians

    White turbines churning, lazy
    On dark Peninne hills
    While seven sisters guard the valley
    Where weavers in 1844
    Pioneered equity
    Now East and West bound
    Traffic doesn’t see
    The motorway rumbles
    The long grass still rustles
    And the songbirds break through

    © Seamus Kelly, 2012

  • Lower Lane/Broad Lane


    High hedges hide the secret places
    Between nature and men’s meddling
    Quiet places beside
    Ivy clad cottages
    Leading to
    Victorian terraces and
    Batch-built estates
    And a present-day traveller
    Traces history’s footsteps

    © Seamus Kelly, 2012

  • Sir Isaac Newton Way/Stiups Lane

    The Larks

    Skylarks soar their vertical columns
    Echoing chimneys long gone
    Yellow machines move earth
    Tall cranes lower preformed concrete
    And industry is reborn
    In a northern town
    Seat of a co-operative revolution
    And the motorway rumbles
    The long grass rustles
    And the songbirds always break through

    © Seamus Kelly, 2012

  • Ponds at Stannybrook, Milnrow


    Water lily pads fringe dark deep water
    The heron stands
    By the tall bulrushes
    Statue still
    A knife blade splash
    Languid ripples radiate
    Slow wing-beats loft high
    And the motorway rumbles
    The long grass rustles
    And the songbirds break through

    © Seamus Kelly, 2012

  • Subway, Elizabethan Way, Milnrow


    Weavers’ cottages and
    Ellenroad’s tall smoking stack
    Overlook the hidden entrance
    As walkers, cyclists and horses
    Pass under fast traffic
    Frequent frustrated queues
    Heading North, South, East and West
    The motorway rumbles
    The long grass rustles
    And the songbirds break through

    ©  Seamus Kelly, 2012

  • Manchester St, Heywood


    Take these words, for they are now yours
    to do with as you will;
    To assemble as a marching force
    or to leave as sentinels standing still.

    Take these words and keep the change
    for they are here in all conditions;
    Their order may become deranged
    and they may lose their definition

    Take these words: take them far away.
    Do not be tempted to preserve them.
    Allow these words to have their say
    for we writers merely serve them.

    © Norman Warwick, 2012

  • Green Lane/Ryecroft Ave


    By the lake stands a tree that grants all children a wish
    and to grown-ups, too, if they believe in this.

    A child unafraid of wonders to behold,
    Jonathan was wise at six years old
    and when grandfather whispered, “tell your wishes to me,”
    he said he could not, else it never would be.

    When grandfather asked, thirty years on, if those wishes came true
    Jonathan replied, “I don’t know. I wished them for you.”

    © Norman Warwick, 2012

  • West end of Chadwick Lane, Heywood


    A million stars faded in daybreak sky
    as world emerged from night time black.
    He fumbled his last cigarette from a crumpled pack –
    inhaled for ever, and with head tilted back
    blew a perfect ring around pale moon.

    So quiet he could hear a new born morning cry,
    as Time itself lay down to sleep,
    he counted promises he had failed to keep,
    hung down his head and began to weep
    for a perfect poem he would never write

    © Norman Warwick, 2012

  • East end of Chadwick Lane, Castleton


    He told her
    “poets tell the truth, until they need a rhyme.”
    He quoted Bob Dylan
    and borrowed from Townes Van Zandt
    and Wordsworth and Blake in merry dance
    and Armitage and Sheers of the modern day
    allowed him to always have his say.

    There they are.
    The Princess and the magpie thief
    offering his steals.
    Noticed only by moon and stars
    an invisible angel plays acoustic guitar
    and ghosts of lovers speak in codes
    whilst dancing down these muddy roads.

    © Norman Warwick, 2012

  • Belfield Wood, Belfield Primary School

    The  half-grown, crook-backed child
    Freedom-drunk for one half-day.
    Kick-boxers, cock-fighters, Prince Charlie’s men
    Searching for fools and runaways.


    There! In the throng, the Methodist,
    Stern of face and solemn.
    Revolutionists, Calvinists.
    Dreaming of better tomorrows.

    © Eileen Earnshaw, 2012


  • Gower Street, path to Belfield Wood

    Is that Byron’s long black cloak?
    And poor, sad, hanged Valentine Holt?
    There! ugly Ailsa with her love-child’s coffin
    Grieving her way to Whitworth.

    © Eileen Earnshaw, 2012

    Historical note: all three characters mentioned in the poem are real, not only Byron (who was in fact 6th Baron Rochdale).  You can find out about them at the local history archive at Touchstones, Rochdale.

  • Community Centre, South Street

    Industrial Revolution

    My heart is tarnished as we pass
    a rusted chimney against a blue sky.
    Is industry dead? When did this town die?
    The silence of the road rings in my ears…

    until, where South Street and East shake hands,
    sounds and sights lift the funeral veil:
    a baby is held by a smiling relative,
    a band of singing mothers push their prams,
    an old man is pacing his afternoon walk
    amiably nodding our way.
    There are snooker clubs, Karate clubs, football courts,
    Seven Sisters chatting above the chimney tops…

    This town never died.
    It simply started to use a different power source.

    © Sam Fisher, 2012

  • Falinge Park Gates, Sheriff St

    Falinge Gates

    These stone-columned gates lead to lifetimes of childhood,
    to ages spent souring on swift chain swings,
    to eras of endless hide and seek, stood by the counting tree…

    ‘Ready or not, here Time comes!’
    We heard his bellow shaking the budding sapling’s leaves.
    We knew we were cornered, so we pounced from our bushes,
    gave him a fright, one last time,
    then leapt blindly into cartwheels on the sunlit green.

    Though the game seemed over and the swing hung loose
    these gates remember our wet-sweat hair,
    our charged smiles hurtling over rock-bordered paths;
    though Time is still counting, when we pass these pillars,
    these gates remember we were never truly found.

    © Sam Fisher, 2012

  • Cronkeyshaw Common, Greenbank Road

    Cronkeyshaw Common

    Lungs of weavers, winders, carders,
    Blessed green and sun-filled space.
    Gleam of water, diamond-bright.
    Run childer, run, embrace the air,
    Know this space.
    Cherish it.

    Rest awhile, you traveller.
    Maybe, in your reverie,
    An echo, faintly, on the breeze
    Of leading guiding bell-horse,
    In its wake, so light of foot, pretty long-haired Galloways
    With stone and coal, cloth and wool,
    All heading down to Rochda’.

    © Eileen Earnshaw, 2012

  • Cronkeyshaw Common (Joy St and Fieldhouse Road)

    CronkeyShaw Common

    At this traffic tipped turnstile we must make a judgement:
    will it be Falinge, Fieldhouse, Greenbank, or Regent?
    For our world rolls on in every direction
    and yes, in time, we must make that decision
    but what better breadth for a breath, a pause?

    The Alpine greets the traveller with open doors
    where we can plot our path as we share a jar;
    if we wish to steer clear of the tempting bar
    we could sit right here on the soft, obliging grass
    and talk our route as the sun makes its pass.

    True, the world rolls on in every direction;
    but why not watch it turn a while on the Common?

    © Sam Fisher, 2012

  • Shawclough Road

    The Pigeon and The Blackbird

    Cross the tightrope of Shawclough Road
    we find true balance as our route unfolds
    to a brief shower of daisy chains, buttercups,

    and pleasing purpling weeds. The harbinger of nature,
    a blackbird sweetly sings from her nest overhead,
    her song drowning the drone of toneless roads…

    but suburbia is ready for her overture –
    a pigeon coos pleasantly on a trimmed velvet lawn
    and the reality of tarmac is never far from home…

    still, we plunge back into the wild depths of trees,
    the blackbird’s song carried on clearing winds
    that blow us to a crossroads at Lower Healey:

    should we stay beneath the blackbird’s bough,
    or venture to paths where the pigeon beats her wings?

    © Sam Fisher, 2012

  • Healey Dell entrance

    From the viaduct – Healey Dell

    Riding over the viaduct,
    Verdant greens hide lies, dreams.
    Visible, the secrets hide,
    As the dog who barked in the night.

    Peering deep into millennia
    Woman crouched with fur-clad child.
    Look close, see softly gentled limbs,
    That glow in golden firelight.

    On to
    Brown and dun Victorian walls,
    With rust-red gate of iron.
    Temples to men’s affluence
    Crumbling and forgotten.

    © Eileen Earnshaw, 2012

  • Healey Dell viaduct, north end


    Our cycle route flows like a memory-made stream
    of emerald thoughts under greenest sessile oaks,
    a channel to those Summer jewels of scaling dry rock walls,
    rippling dazzling reflections in a sun-drenched pool
    the fresh May rain had so kindly stored.

    We ride downriver, carried closer to those young Dell days
    when we spied on trotting horses in wild clover fields,
    this route surging, minds widening, driving us closer
    to the stealthy bats that swooped above our heads,
    to the laughter in a boulder’s mossy eyebrows,
    to the zest of youth’s aroma in thriving forest flora.

    As we delve into the Dell we knew,
    our course delivers us to the landmark of our longing
    where we bathe in the warm sea of ourselves.

    © Sam Fisher, 2012

  • St Leonard’s Church corner

    Now an ancient cobbled roadway
    Gone are rows of terraced houses
    Back to back, a pavement at the door
    Lavatories in a shared yard
    Near steps, L.S. Lowry’s twenty-four

    Upon high hill, St Leonard’s Church
    Red brick wall fronts the Old Cemetery
    Wherein lies Sam Bamford’s grave
    Old reminders of Middleton history
    Never lost, memories to be saved

    © Ann Robinson, January 2013

  • Hazel Road/Dale Road Junction, Boarshaw


    Hazel and Myrtle
    Dale, Grove, Valley and Green Lane
    Countryside in town

    Old council estate
    Street names of pretty places
    Here are all around

    © Ann Robinson, 2013



  • Lock 58, bridge 39 to Whitegates Road


    Stay awhile in this peaceful, tranquil place
    Interrupted only by noisy train.
    See railway and road over water chase;
    Here these three transport modes meet once again.
    To Manchester or Leeds train thunders by,
    People travel on it to work or shop.
    It’s very loud, but sound is never shy;
    Quickly gone now, still silence back does drop
    Rochdale Canal flows sluggishly away
    Via dark lock flows down another course
    No changes from day to following day
    Passing through our countryside from its source
    Roadway over the bridge was Three Pits Lane
    Will never lead to anywhere again

    © Ann Robinson, 2013


  • Lock 54, Slattocks

    Lock-keeper’s house, now just a dwelling
    Next to water falling and swelling
    Close your ears, switch off the constant load
    Of traffic on that busy main road

    Ducks will gather hoping for bread
    Horses neigh in the fields ahead
    Fishermen wait for carp or perch
    Narrow boats settle in their berths

    Lock fifty-four of all ninety-two
    Rochdale canal has flora for you
    Cuckoo flower, yellow flag, orchid here
    In summertime dragonflies hover near

    When you leave don’t forget what you’ve seen
    Here at Slattocks, this hamlet of green.

    © Ann Robinson, 2013


  • Blue Pits, Lock 51

    The Write of Way: Blue Pits Lock 51

    We used to meet here, you and I
    Where a distant Arrow pierces the sky
    And leaves derelict buildings wondering why
    I dredge up this image from ‘51
    Of the Courtaulds mill, when Cotton was King

    © Val Chapman, 2012

  • Maltings Lane/towpath at Castleton


    If wishing made it so.
    Here, where all and nought happens as one,
    would be carved an X to mark the spot.
    Here be dragons and here be magic
    where words, all tumbled and jumbled
    fall into place
    stepping out in time to make music and rhyme.

    If wishing made it so.
    Here, where never will always fight forever,
    should be a landmark on the spot.
    Here be truth and here be lies
    where time
    tut tutting at our standing
    still moves on
    with no backward glance or care.

    © Norman Warwick, 2012

  • Towpath south of March Barn bridge


    We wear our hearts
    like wishing wells
    down by Slattocks
    in kind silence
    to Castleton.

    Some cycles pass
    a narrowboat
    nudging the lock -
    the brief rain makes
    this day sparkle
    whilst the clouds float
    away with time.

    © Steve Garside, 2012

  • March Barn bridge, by Bow Street


    They smile as they pass
    and say hello, as do
    the riders and the dog
    walkers, the angler
    casting his cheeky nod
    while cows consider
    the cud, the sun
    suggests the sky
    to the water
    and nattering birds
    ribbon moments with song.

    © Steve Garside, 2012

  • Towpath north of March Barn bridge

    He says

    The finest cotton recorded
    was spun here in Castleton,
    bulk snugged to Manchester
    or over the Pennines
    to Bradford – horses straining
    with each tug of each narrowboat
    load, shirt sleeves rolled
    for the winding of the sluice -
    time like water is never owned
    only slowed by the canal
    for the timetable of trains
    or velocity of cars to overtake
    below the sky bypass of planes;
    all those endings becoming beginnings
    the kiss of the untouched day.

    © Steve Garside 2012

  • Gorrels Way motorway bridge


    Kestrel shocks the sky
    honed over the motorway
    somewhere something dies.

    © Steve Garside, 2012

  • Bridge 62C, Edinburgh Way Bridge

    The Write of Way: Bridge 62C

    Fringed ferns run ragged along its banks
    As we tread its watery way
    This was our canal, our waterscape
    It was our refuge, and a haven safe
    For long-necked goslings which rose from reeds
    And forget-me-nots peeped like hidden gems

    © Val Chapman 2012

  • Towpath by Edinburgh Way

    arrives with the passing of a train
    the thin string section searing rails
    chanting the verse of the motorway,

    pylon wires crackle with an amplified hiss
    a solo car accentuates this crescendo of haste
    then everything ends in the pulse of a kiss.

    © Steve Garside, 2012


  • Bridge 62A, Hartley Lane Bridge, Sandbrook

    The Write of Way: Bridge 62A

    From Sandbrook Park to Ashfield School
    A path leads to an oasis pool where
    We always took avoiding steps
    And discovered where light on lake reflects
    Upon a wall of shining sheets
    Where water lilies float beneath

    © Val Chapman, 2012

  • Bridge 62, Dicken Lane, Sandbrook

    The Write of Way: Bridge 62

    To far-flung north came bikes without bells
    And spoken wheels whispered I’m here but don’t tell
    And graffiti found in blue and bold
    Where we found no head or tale was told
    Soon, sun slanted leaves and rain drenched trees
    Became our showering shelter
    But shards of green came slashing through
    The safety net of our belief

    © Val Chapman, 2012

  • Bridge 61, Milkstone Rd/Well I’th Lane

    The Write of Way: Bridge 61

    To wooden antlers in waters deep
    Memories of ghosts in Stoneyfield creep
    And bubbling brooks amidst the woods
    Are treading steps to Halfpenny Bridge
    And when the sun makes me a silhouette
    I can look back to you, and yet
    I know that you must go
    Following the Arrow, where I will know
    You’ll always think of me there with you,
    The way we were, so young, so true
    And never will I think of that day
    Without knowing our waterscape
    Meant the same to you

    © Val Chapman, 2012

  • Belfield Mill Lane, Belfield Bridge

    From  South St.

    The centuries sweep down this street.
    Away the dust and grime.
    Away pursuits of grandiose men,
    We place them, back, in time.

    On stubborn Selina’s connexion,
    Golden children dance.
    Halls are built for prayer and peace,
    For hope, for joy, well-being.
    The seeds of the future flourish here.
    The past, is the past, is the past.

    Maybe a faint and bell-like sound will drift upon the breeze,
    Maybe a beautiful dark-eyed child will pause at play, and hear
    Then shrug away the ancient sound. The future matters here.

    © Eileen Earnshaw, 2012

  • bridge 54 at Smithy Bridge

    Here for
    Smithy Bridge,
    Weighvers’ Seaport.
    Forward to Clegg Hall,
    Kingsway’s new industry,
    Halfpenny Bridge’s dead mill,
    Sandbrook and motorway culvert.
    On through Castleton’s bank-side decay.
    In ten more years, will all regenerate?

    © Robin Parker, Langley Writers, June 2012

  • Ben Healey bridge

    From 1804,
    Narrow boats flowed past here
    For commerce and pleasure;
    By 1950s they flowed no more.

    Ten years back, 1 July 2002,
    Waters flowed again,
    Parted by horse boat Elland,
    Enthroning Fred the chimney man,
    Flowing here with VIPs
    To part Ben Healey’s red ribbon

    © Robin Parker, Langley Writers, June 2012

  • Bridge 47

    Pennines bleak delight
    Lark high fish low waters flow
    Meadow flowers bright

    © Robin Parker, Langley Writers, June 2012

  • Lock 39

    Waters flow steep
    Through lock flights deep
    As cycles sweep
    Past boats which reap
    Relaxed tedium
    Mechanised necessity

    © Robin Parker, Langley Writers, June 2012

  • West Summit, Lock 37

    From watershed through steep, deep locks you’ll flow,
    Perhaps moor for an overnight nearby
    Chelbourne, where warm evening sun may glow,
    Or cold and drizzle summer months belie.
    Canal flows steeply down past industry,
    Some standing idle in long, sad decay
    As monument to fabric history;
    Some thriving and producing, day by day.
    Soon rustic locks and bridges coincide
    By number, forty four to forty five
    Canal and railway soon run side by side,
    But these two modes together do not thrive;
    For passengers on fast track cannot see
    The pleasure of canal’s tranquillity.

    © Robin Parker, Langley Writers, June 2012





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