Rather than our previously planned almost five weeks of pottering on this charming waterway, unexpected events dictated we’d instead experience just short of three weeks – from 29th May to 17th June.
When I say ‘we’, in reality Barry relished three days short of three weeks, while I managed to squeeze in a measly eight days. Was it worth it you may ask?
Of course! Every inland waterway in the UK is worth visiting. Needing some planning and booking (as we’ve discovered!) to access, this is unfortunately one of the ‘canals less travelled’ on the system – we feel it’s definitely worth going to of your way for. A bit like Barry’s home town of Gisborne – remote – but that may be one of the reasons it’s so serene and special!
Once again this post’s a mixture of Barry’s and my words – but all the pictures are his Inspirational Images.
The Lancaster Canal had been on our ‘waterways bucket-list’ for a number of years, and we were determined to embrace whatever opportunity we had to see it. At a mere 41 miles long (and lock-free once you’re off Savick Brook which was widened to connect the Lancaster Canal to the River Ribble in order to open the Ribble Link in 2002), it doesn’t take too long to travel the length and breadth of it.
It can proudly boast the accolade of being the longest lock-free canal in the country – leisurely cruising and chilling is the order of the day in this delightful part of the country.
Admittedly we experienced a few irritating challenges too. Like the reality of the reported sparse mooring availability as most of the sides are extremely shallow; but also around the more scenic areas, suitable spaces seemed to be mostly taken up by long-term moorings which was frustrating at times.
On a brighter note, there’s a number of pleasant places to meander around along the way …
Garstang (purportedly ‘The World’s fist Fair Trade Town’), is a popular mooring stop, with a lovely shopping area containing plenty of quirky shops, and a couple of welcome supermarkets.
Lush surroundings in Lancaster
This time of year in England was the perfect season to languish in these surroundings, with the foliage in full magnificence.
I’m sure you’ll concur from the images below that the lighting amongst the lush greenery was quite spectacular.
Affectionately (!) known as ‘The Hanging Town’, Lancaster has apparently strung up more people than anywhere else in the UK – not to mention the many jailed for life or transported to Australia.
On his first evening in Lancaster, Barry took a walk around this fine city and captured a few of the older buildings in the centre, taking a veritable collage of unusual windows, doors, and fine architectural nuances. What a surprisingly fabulous and fascinating place.
Barry moored up in Lancaster not far from the infamous Water Witch pub, which many years ago was the stables for the horses who hauled the fast boats between Preston and Kendal. Happening to be fortuitous enough to be in the vicinity for their quiz night, he
teamed up with cajoled Carol and Colin into participating; a couple of locals who thought they were just there for a quiet drink. They informed him they were rubbish at quizzes, and were right – their ‘team’ came second last!
Carol went on to win the prize draw and successfully completed the ‘Guess Your Cards Right‘ round, to win the jackpot of £210.00 – of which she insisted Barry got a third. How wonderful. Very nice thank you Carol – he reports that he’s since then invested the cash wisely on alcohol! (addendum from Sandra – he wishes!).
One of the unique aspects of this canal is that for a while it almost hugs the coast – though to be perfectly honest the views weren’t as spectacular as we’d anticipated or been led to believe. Especially when the tide was low, as the ocean’s then a considerable distance away. There’s warnings aplenty about quicksand and fast-moving tides where Barry managed to moor briefly at Hest Bank.
Barry did a bit of trading outside the fabulous Canal Turn Pub at Carnforth, with new owners Bill and Victoria going out of their way to give punters a great experience. They were astonishingly welcoming of The Home Brew Boat trading, even going so far as to post a photo of us on their Facebook page. They also bought a few canal greeting cards.
If you’re passing – call in, Barry highly recommends the establishment and feels sure it’ll go from strength to strength.
This year we’ve started selling duck food from the boat. Watching so many people thoughtlessly feeding ducks, swans and geese bread, we wanted to do our bit for nature.
Along with a stapled bag of high quality duck food, Sandra shares a leaflet containing information she’s discovered explaining WHY it’s best not to feed them bread:
“Bread has no nutritional value. To ducks it’s a ‘junk’ food – filling them up with carbohydrates and consequently stopping them from foraging for food that DOES provide what they need.
Rotting bread also makes ducks sick, contributes to algae growth, which kills animals, and attracts vermin, which spread disease to birds and humans.
PLEASE DO NOT FEED BREAD TO DUCKS/SWANS/GEESE
For more information, check out the links below:
What foods CAN you feed ducks?
~ Lettuce (cut up)
~ Corn (canned, frozen or fresh)
~ Peas (as above)
~ Seeds (not apple or cherry)
~ Porridge oats
~ Rice (cooked)
~ Cherry tomatoes (cut up)
~ Flowers – dandelions, pansies, clover
~ Fruit (not citrus) – especially apples cut up, banana chips (broken up)
~ Cat and dog food
Foods to avoid:
X BREAD –of any type
X Junk food
X Avocados or onions are toxic to ducks
X Citrus fruit
X Carbonated drinks
Barry befriended a local female mallard. This duck would have to be the friendliest one we’ve ever met. She had no fear and you could even pat her. It did help of course that we had some particularly tasty duck food on offer!
Venturing to the most northerly point of the English canal system
Barry had the good fortune to be able to travel all the way to the end of the Lancaster Canal at Tewitfield, having been joined at the Canal Turn pub by Jim (ex nb Starcross) and his wife Hilary, along with her spritely 94 year-old mum Jean for the journey. Jim wrote a blog about their experience.
Jim drove all the way there and back, with Barry suspecting at one point he detected a tiny tear of nostalgia.
As it’s the furthermost north canal on the linked system, He felt it important to photograph the ‘touch the end of the canal with the front fender’ shot, just to prove we’d finally done it and have Jim there as an ‘Expert Witness’!
This particular journey up the Lancaster was taken with Barry on board Areandare, while Sandra was on a planned week away in Menorca with my daughter and grandsons.
There’s lots more fabulous memories to share of our journey from Carnforth back to the Ribble Link, including a side-trip to Glasson Docks – in the next post!
Where are we in ‘real time’?
We’ve cruised from Tarleton to Worsley since we returned on the Link Sunday 17th June, heading to Manchester for the weekend where we have kiwi guests jumping on board. we even had some surprise visitors yesterday from Australia, originally from Hawkes Bay in New Zealand.
Thank goodness we chose to travel to new vistas and not trade this year. Our income from floating markets and festivals may be drastically reduced, but we feel incredibly rich in relishing life and all it has to offer. And we hope to be running Calendar Club in Lichfield again from October to January, so we don’t feel that ‘pressure’ to do the same old, same old anymore.
By the way, if any boaters are considering applying for Calendar Club this year, here’s the link.