As it turned out we didn’t move down to the upper basin of the Ribble Link until the morning, we weren’t due to start until after ten so we had plenty of time.
Leaving our Saturday night mooring, a bit grey and breezy but dry.
The rather obscure entrance to the top basin.
There were already three boats waiting, so we breasted up to NB Duke to wait for our extra crew and the CRT chaps to set up the locks.
We had a wait of about an hour and a half before we were lining up with Dave and Sue on Duke to reverse into the top chamber of the triple staircase. Our guests for the day had arrived had arrived and were installed in strategic locations…
Doug and James, late of NB Chance.
Chance was sold last year, so now they get their boat fixes when they can…
Gauging the Ripple sculpture alongside the locks
Another narrowboat had arrived, so we had two pairs of “narrers” and one wide beam in convoy heading down Savick Brook.
Heading off down the brook while Duke reverses out of the bottom chamber of the staircase.
Anything longer than around 50’ needs to reverse through the locks, as the basin below isn’t really big enough to turn in, and the exit is at a sharp angle to the left of the picture.
The tide was out but just starting to flood as we headed down through the locks, exposing the slimy mudbanks at the sides.
Below Lock 8 we had a short wait on the holding pontoon while the water rose enough to cover the cill of the sea lock with a sufficient level of water, then we were off at twenty to two.
Widebeam Rosina breasting the flow at the sea lock
The tide is coming in with a vengeance now.
Swinging out onto the Ribble estuary
It’s about 3¼ miles from the entrance to Savick Brook to the turning in to the River Douglas at Astland Lamp. Depending on how fast you want to go against the incoming tide it can take an hour or more. We wound it on a bit and were entering the Douglas after 45 minutes.
This boat heading upstream at a rate of knots gave us a friendly toot as he passed…
…then gave a tow to Rosina
It was pre-arranged, the chap on the wide-beam was concerned about his boat’s capabilities against the tide.
The Astland Lamp, marker for turning in to the Douglas.
We did a sneaky and left it on the right hand rather than going around it, but with the tide near it’s top there was little risk of running aground. We still kept well clear of the bank…
Coming up the Douglas, easy going at the top of the tide.
We’d swapped places a bit coming along the wide water, and were now behind Areandare, and made sure that we were fairly close as we approached Tarleton Lock. As we got nearer it was clear that the waters of the tidal Douglas and the canal above the lock had levelled off and both ends of the lock were open.
I’d eased back a bit, but with frantic waving from the lockside I opened up again, and we passed through the chamber with moments to spare before they had to close up to prevent loss of water from the canal. The gates were shut immediately we were on the canal, so the following boats would have to pass through in a conventional manner.
Areandare had pulled in, but the chap on board walked up and opened the swing bridge for us, and we could push on up to Rufford.
The excitement wasn’t over though. Approaching Fearns Swing Bridge we could see a plume of smoke rising on the towpath side of the canal and a fire engine heading along a track towards it. The fire was in a rubbish heap, a couple of straw bales and some timber was smouldering away.
They had to run a hose across the bridge, so we waited while they got it under control.
Doug and James had left their car near the top basin where we set off, and had planned to take a train back to Preston from Rufford. But with the current “difficulties” Northern Rail is having with it’s timetables, all Sunday trains had been cancelled and their was no bus service. So Doug had arranged a taxi, but while we waiting for the firepeople to do their stuff he got talking to a family on the towpath who came from Preston and were quite willing to take him back with them. You know what they say, every cloud has a silver lining – even a smoke cloud!
So Doug set off with his Samaritans and a slightly depleted crew headed for Rufford, tying up on the visitor moorings there at a quarter past five.
Doug arrived back with the car a little later, and we sat down to eat and drink and chat for a couple of hours before they had to leave us.
A good day all round, we had a drop of light rain as we came down the staircase locks but that was all. And with Doug and James to help with the locks and bridges, Mags and I had an easy trip too. Thanks guys.
We had a quiet night, in bed just after 10. This morning was grey again, but we were on the move soon after 9 , intending to be tied up again before lunch above German’s Lock. As we set off I spotted a boat heading up behind us, so waited in Rufford Lock for them to join us.
The pound above was very low, the landings for Marsh Meadow Swing Bridge were too shallow to get on so I had to leap the gap.
We scraped bottom a couple of times before we reached Chicken Lock, where a boat had broken down on the lock landing.
Looking over at Winter Hill to the east.
Wendy Woo II with engine trouble
Fortunately the lady off the boat we were locking with, Ginally, had walked up to set the lock and it was almost empty so we didn’t need to pull in.
Coming up German’s Lock, with the Leeds and Liverpool clough top paddles
Mags and I had a chat and decided to press on with such good locking companions. So we toddled on in company, up the last four locks to the top of the Rufford Branch and the junction with the main line of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
Waiting below Lock 2 for a boat coming down.
No shortage of water up here…
There was a volunteer lockie on here as well, keeping things running smoothly, and we were up Lock 2 and heading side by side into Lock 1 in short order.
Up Lock 1
At the top we pulled in to fill with water while Ginally turned left under the junction bridge to head for Parbold.
A very pleasant couple and effective lock partners too. Sorry though not to get their names.
The junction is an almost classic canal scene, with a row of canal cottages and a large but disused and overgrown dry dock.
With the tank full we followed Ginally, through Glover’s Swing Bridge and moored up at the Ring O’ Bells just a little further along.
Tomorrow we’ll head to Parbold.
Yesterday – Locks 9, miles 17, today - Locks 7, miles 3¾