OUR journey has taken us through West Lancashire and, now, early in the afternoon, we are in the outskirts of Blackburn - through which, along with the other towns of East Lancashire, we will have to pass on our way to Yorkshire.

We must halt here - to proceed further would risk being attacked by children and youths of these East Lancashire towns.

We wait until day-break the following morning as, at that time of day, there is less risk of attack and vandalism to our means of transport.

If we stop to visit the town centres to replenish our supplies, our visit must be completed before mid-day as the risk of attack increases afterwards.

For the same reason, overnight stops at town centres are not advisable as the route is frequented by children and youths who are on drugs or intoxicated with drink from early afternoon until the early hours of the morning.

Is this some post-apocalyptic future, when society has collapsed and anarchy rules?

No, this is just a normal summer when the schools are on holiday and what visitors to East Lancashire who come by boat long the Leeds-Liverpool Canal experience on one of the main tourist routes through this part of Lancashire.

The question is: how much is the local economy losing because boaters won't risk stopping to visit or shop in the towns along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in East Lancashire?

ALAN HOLDEN, Marlborough Road, Accrington.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.