You guessed it! We’ve become way behind here once again …
The weather’s been amazing these past few weeks, so unsurprisingly sitting indoors writing blog posts hasn’t featured at the top of our ‘to action’ lists. We’ve also been enjoying hosting our first two sets of Kiwi visitors of 2018 on board, and sharing laughter and experiences with them along the wonders of the waterways.
We know many people are anticipating seeing images of our return journey on the Lancaster Canal, back to Tarleton via the Ribble Link on Sunday 17th June; it’s even more special as we had brand new friends on board!
Sandra returns from a week in Menorca
After a life-changing few weeks, Sandra returned to Areandare from Malpas (via Menorca!) to Carnforth. It felt quite surreal to visit the Canal Turn pub with Barry and find herself subject of conversations about how lovely the Lancaster Canal and living on a narrowboat must be, when she was yet to experience anything about the waterway. It was most discombobulating and took a few days to adjust and begin to appreciate our inaugural journey in this long anticipated place. …
Barry captured the journey magnificently as usual, and captioned the images well. Enjoy …
Carnforth Railway Station was the setting for the 1945 David Lean film ‘Brief Encounters’, starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, and contains a museum to Sir David Lean CBE as well as a museum containing a history of the station and its restoration.
Barry’s NZ friend Keith’s father, Douglas Twiddy, from Borehamwood/Elstree, worked with David Lean on three of the above films. Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago and Ryan’s Daughter, amongst many other films he was involved with such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return of the Jedi and Labyrinth.
Keith emigrated to Gisborne in 1973, and Barry and he met through playing badminton. They subsequently then ‘flatted’ together for a number of years. In 1976, Keith, Barry and friends John and Vicki, visited the UK stayed for a while with Doug and Ena at Borehamwood. It was during an excursion with John and Vicki when Barry first spotted the Norfolk Broads and the canals at Northampton (hence the waterway connection).
Keith’s mum and dad visited Gisborne in 1980 for Keith and Cheryl’s wedding, and while there scouted the area for filming locations as ‘Production Supervisor’ for the 1984 film The Bounty starring Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence Olivier, Daniel Day Lewis, Liam Neeson etc. It also starred Neil Morrisey, owner of The Plume of Feathers pub at Barlaston near Stoke on Trent (another waterway connection).
The film company converted the old brick facade of the waterfront Freezing Works in Gisborne to look like the Docks at Bristol (yet another waterway connection!). Barry recalls they had a full-sized replica of the ship moored in the harbour basin, with huge wooden chutes that sent torrents of water over the deck for the storm scenes.
Barry remembers being invited aboard ‘The Bounty‘ after the pub late one night, with his mate Lee, and forcing Mel Gibson to wait to disembark as they boarded, and then ended up later climbing the rigging and singing silly sailor songs (no recognisable connection to the waterways).
Our travels took us past many gorgeous back garden settings, one swing bridge, and just occasional teasing glimpses of Morecambe Bay in the distance.
You do feel like you’ve got all the time in the world to explore the mud flats. However …
We read the heartbreaking story of the 21 Chinese illegal immigrants who drowned needlessly and helplessly in 2004. It’s become known as the ‘Morecombe Bay Cockling Disaster‘. A shocking indictment on how humans are able to knowingly abuse their fellow-man at times …
The Lune Aqueduct is one of John Rennie’s master-piece-aqueducts, completed in 1797, at a total cost of £48,320 – only £30,000 over budget – not too bad! We saw no leaking now after the repairs of 2011-2012, or even any signs of much wear and tear. It looks in pretty good nick!
Looking back we’re rather incredulous as to how we fitted so much in during this journey. Sandra returned to Areandare on Tuesday 5th June, we cruised to Lancaster on Wednesday 6th (and visited the above places en route), then had dinner at the Water Witch pub there with a previous midwifery colleague of Sandra’s who lives nearby (sadly neither Sascha or Sandra took a photo, they were far too busy catching up!), then on Thursday 7th June Sandra jumped on a train heading to her mum’s for a weekend of sorting with her sisters. Barry followed the next day, and we both travelled back to Lancaster on Sunday 10th.
Onto the Glasson Branch
Leaving Lancaster on Monday 11th June, we headed south and turned right to the Glasson Branch. Barry had been eagerly anticipating this detour. We’re so thankful we chose to take this route – especially as it’s currently un-navigable due to water shortages …
There’s quite a stark contrast between the dock moorings and the adjacent tidal estuary.
As you can see, the incoming tide is far quicker than watching paint dry!
Barry just can’t help adding a couple more images of the marina – he was very impressed by it!
Next day we awoke to a fishing boat waiting to get through the lock and into the harbour, then through the sea lock onto the estuary. Barry delayed his breakfast and took his camera out for an early morning jaunt.
Two CRT workers were there to lock the boat through. They used to have to be on duty here whenever the tides were right, even if nobody was wanting to go through, but now boaters have to ring and book passage. It makes perfect sense to Barry, but apparently not to some boaters who expect service on demand!
It’s quite an effort and rather complex to work the lock, as it also has a swing bridge across with a very busy road over. It’s serious work winding the paddles, then the gates, and synchronising the timing to cross the harbour and exit the sea lock before the tide gets too low.
The sea lock apparently doesn’t hold all the water out, and it lowers with the tide …
… so the moored boats get left stranded aground for a time while the two levels equalise.
Then of course any traffic can shoot out of the entrance.
We had a number of walks around the Docks and Estuary during our stay, and took the opportunity to visit the Port of Lancaster Smokehouse too. A few fellow boaters had recommended it. Sandra enjoyed Morecambe Bay Whitebait (memories of childhood), we both relished Morecambe Bay prawns, and over the course of the following days ate like a King and Queen with smoked mallard breasts (yes, we know, not in the best taste really, and wouldn’t bother again as though tasty there’s not a lot of meat on them!), smoked pheasant breasts (read it carefully!), smoked Lancashire cheese, smoked butter, smoked bacon, sausages, and venison smoked sausage. We’d expected to taste black and white pudding, but didn’t realise it hadn’t been put in the bag and it was too late by then to go back. So that experience will have to wait until another day …
Back to Savick Brook
Most people reading be aware the journey across the Ribble Link needs to be booked by license holders through CRT (using their log-in details) , well in advance, and there’s limited availability during the season. Our return trip was planned for Sunday 17th June, so after a couple of days at Glasson we needed to resume our travelling.
It’s a very twisty, narrow, and shallow navigation down the Savick Brook link. It’s just under three miles, and involves nine locks, including the sea lock, and a triple staircase lock at the top that you have to reverse into. It’s a fascinating and slightly formidable journey!
Gareth and Michaela had offered to travel from York to crew with Barry on the outgoing trip, just after Andy had been in touch. So we suggested they may want to come along for the ride on the return. They were very keen to – so much so they even brought a delicious spread for lunch too! What a bonus.
The following first group of photos isn’t up to Barry’s standard, they’re Sandra’s poor efforts … you’ll easily notice the difference when Barry’s recommence!
Looks here as though Gareth had to do all the work! Driving AND locking? Surely not with four crew on board …
Once through the sea lock, it’s a short run out to open water, up the estuary, and onto the River Douglas.
Gareth was quite happy to take us all the way over, which gave the captain a bit of a break and time to put his feet up (just joking).
We were lucky enough to time the tide so it was exactly the same level as the canal, which meant we could pass straight through the lock. The following boat managed as well, but only after having to put the power on.
Such a fantastic experience – we absolutely LOVED the Lancaster and hope one day to return with more time and knowledge. It was wonderful to share some of the journey with Andy and his son Matt, and Jim and Hilary and her mum, and finally Gareth and Michaela who we thank profusely for providing lunch and for being so inspiringly impetuous ….
Where are we now in real time?
We’re currently in the Northwich area, awaiting news on a lock closure at Malkin Bank as to our upcoming travels. We’ve heard there’s some challenges at Middlewich due to low levels of water. And we’re expecting our next kiwi guests, Rod and Tracey, to arrive on Sunday – we’re just not exactly sure yet the location of that meet-up!