Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A better day.

 Last evening’s sunset promised a better day, and it didn’t let us down.
Spectacular Sunset
We weren’t going so far today, so didn’t get off until gone 11:00. In fact I overslept; I’m normally up at 06:30 for my run, today it was 07:10 before I opened my eyes. I blame Meg, she had me up at 1 o’clock this morning, wanting a pee.
Out in the Lancashire countryside.
We were down to less than a quarter of a tank of diesel, planned I might add, and also needed a replacement gas bottle. We filled up and got the gas at the handy Moons Bridge Marina.
Leaving Moons Bridge.
Apart from the extra manoeuvrability provided by the bigger prop, another benefit is improved fuel consumption. Not a huge amount, but at the price of diesel now any saving is worthwhile.
Just chillin’, making milk.
We’ve been coming across a group of three boats on a regular basis. They’re travelling together, all from Braunston. NBs Huffler, Charlotte and Jola No6 are due back across the Ribble the day before us, so they’re killing time.
The “Braunston Boats”, moored near Woodplumpton.
There’s one of the few cuttings on this canal just south of Six Mile Bridge.
Six Mile Bridge
The cutting is only shallow and stretches for about half a mile.
In the cutting.
The Hand and Dagger is canalside at Salwick Bridge   
Emerging into open countryside again, we pulled in on some handy piling just past Salwick Hall.
Salwick Hall just visible through the trees beyond the mooring.
Not sure what we’re going to do over the next couple of days. I’ve some bits and pieces still to do following the bedroom refit; if the weather stays kind there’s some varnishing to do and touching up on the gunwales. Or should we finish off the canal with a trip into Preston and back?
Locks 0, miles 7

I’m running The Great North Run to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Busy at Bilsborrow

Two days without visitors, we’re feeling bereft! We had a quiet day yesterday, catching up with a few things that get put off when we have guests. Today we pulled back to make use of the services, then set off south, intending to moor at Bilsborrow.

Coming out of Garstang, Ultima and Thule looking good.

The day started reasonably promising, quite bright after overnight rain. But it wasn’t to last; grey clouds rolled in and we’ve had a generally damp trip.

Looking back to the Bowland Fells, Dunkenshaw Fell just in the cloud base.

We arrived in Bilsborrow soon after 1 o’clock, but all the moorings (apart from a really shallow bit) were full.

Bilsborrow moorings.

It seems to be a very popular spot, there was very little room when we stopped here on the way north.

So we had to forego the much anticipated fish and chips, and pushed on into the countryside. We found a pleasant spot only about ½ a mile further, and unusually were able to get both ends in! Well, almost. The rudder blade is stuck in the mud.

Moored just out of Bilsborrow.

Busy towpath with good fish and chips for tea versus quiet towpath and cook your own. I know what I prefer…

The canal has been a bit quieter today with the Bank Holiday weekend over. Still a few boats about, though. We had a passing chat with a couple of boats we’ll be sharing the crossing with next Saturday. It looks like there’ll be 4 narrowboats going over the Ribble.

The hawthorn bushes are well laden up here. Are we going to have a winter like last year?

Lots of berries. Harsh winter?

This afternoon I've changed the engine oil and filter, checked the gearbox oil level, topped up the batteries and filled the stern tube greaser. Just need to fill up with diesel tomorrow and we're all set for the weekend.

Locks 0, miles 5.

I’m running The Great North Run to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Busy weekend…

It’s been a bit hectic again this last weekend, with a cruise with guests on Saturday, then Nichola and family coming for lunch yesterday. Good times.

I’m departing from the normal post, trying my hand at something different, as you’ll see in a mo., but first some photos around Glasson.

There was a boat coming up into the basin for the dock as I took Mag for a walk around on Saturday morning.

Motor Yatch Tenacity of Bolton coming up the lock……

….And into the basin.

This lot would have been relieved to see the lock cleared; they’d been milling about in the sea breeze waiting for their turn to go down.

Going in circles….

The black clouds looming dumped a couple of short but heavy showers on us, but had cleared by the time we were ready to move off.

Looking across the Lune estuary, with the tide coming in.

Anyhow, here’s what I promised…

We had guests for our trip up from Glasson

Up the locks and on t’main line

With Johnny and Val, Mike and Yen

We were sure to have a good time.

Johnny inspecting the dilapidated lower gates on Sixth Lock

The rest of the crew.

The little chap is Harry…

We made pretty good time up the lock flight

With a willing and able crew

Filling the locks and pulling on gates

I had little or nothing to do!

Yen making friends with the swans

Coming up the flight

The paddle gear was hard work… for some!

We got to the top feeling peckish

And spied out a fine mooring spot

Mags provided a wonderful repast

We all ate rather a lot….

First lock. Job done, time for lunch.

Grub up!

Meg and Harry playing

Mike wanted to read us a poem

Big fan of Mike Harding, I think

He got on the boat to fetch out his book

Then got off and stepped in the drink!

One leg was wetter than t’other

The scrape on his shin was the worse

Yen took him inside and cleaned up the cut

Mike said she’s a wonderful nurse…


With dry socks, clean pants and some savlon

He was feeling much better for sure

So he set out to read us the poem

Set during the Napoleonic War

T’was ‘bout Boney’s defeat at Wigan

(I didn’t know he’d got that far West)

It told of defeat and disastrous retreat

I guess ole Mike Harding knows best…

We wended our way down to Garstang

Where we dropped off our “crew for the day”

Fine food, good weather, great company

I mean, what more can you say…

There you go. Willy Shakespeare eat your heart out…..

It was a great day. The weather was good if a bit breezy, and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Yesterday it was the turn of Mag’s grand-daughter Nicky and family.

We had Nicky, Arthur, Ben, Marcus and Jasmine for lunch, and they stayed most of the afternoon. Another good day, and once again I forgot to take any photos. A shame, watching the kids feeding the ducks was particularly memorable….

Thanks for coming to see us, you lot.

So far it’s been a quiet day, no visitors yet…..

Thanks Roger for the interesting comment on the last post. I guess much the same sort of thing went on when rail superseded water….

Hey, Mich. We’d moved away from Glasson by the time I picked up your comment. Shame, I’d like to have tried them. Next time…

Since Friday, locks 6, miles 10

I’m running The Great North Run to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Friday, August 26, 2011

From Hest Bank to Glasson

We had an uneventful trip from Hest Bank to Lancaster yesterday, arriving around 11:00 to meet Mag’s grandson Steven and his family.

It was a fine morning, giving us tantalising glimpses of the Lake District tops as we headed south.

Lake District skyline just visible.

The River Lune was in a better mood this time as we crossed the Lune Aqueduct on the way into the city.

Over the Lune

There’s an old dry dock near Bridge 104, overgrown by shrubbery and overlooked by houses.

Disused dry dock

And St Peter’s RC cathedral looks across at the Priory and castle as we approach The Waterwitch.

The elegant spire of St Peter’s.

We collected Steve, Anne-Marie, and the children Luke and Courtney near the pub, and set off for Galgate after lunch.

We had a gentle couple of hours cruising, with some interesting moments as the children had a go on the tiller….

Everyone had a good afternoon, but I failed to record any of it. It was only after they’d left to catch the bus home that I realised I hadn’t taken a single photo!

Sorry guys, but it was good to see you all again.

After a showery night we had a dry, bright morning and were off at 09:00. We wanted to get going early(ish) to avoid the showers forecast for later, and also to beat anyone else to the Glasson flight of locks. The first 3 were full and ready for us, as I found out on Meg’s morning ramble.

We filled with water just before the junction then turned right under the junction bridge into the top lock.

Into First Lock

There are 6 locks dropping the Branch 52 feet in 2¼ miles from the main line to Glasson Basin and the access to the sea. Built in 1826, there was a distinct lack of imagination when it came to naming the locks. There’re often named for local landmarks; farms, hills, streams. But these are First Lock, Second Lock etc, all the way to Sixth Lock.

Heading down the Branch

The chambers are stone built, in the same way as those up at Tewitfield. The upper paddle gear is of the same design, too.

Upper paddle gear, Glasson Branch Locks.

The lower gear is gate-mounted, using a variation of the Leeds and Liverpool sliding clough arrangement.

Lower Gear.

The paddle is opened by winding the rack and pinion gearing.

They’re quite slow, but it doesn’t matter as you travel through this glorious countryside.

The Bowland Fells rise in the background as we drop towards the sea.

Sixth Lock is an exception. The other five have gates in good condition, although they are heavy. This one is in need of some TLC. The chamber was empty when we arrived although it should have been full as we’d passed a boat on the way up earlier. The lower gates are in poor condition and leak badly, one of the balance beams has rotted and been replaced by a fabricated wooden monstrosity, with no paddle gear refitted.

Out of Sixth Lock

As you can see, the top gates leak quite badly, too.

Another mile of canal, dead straight, and we came out into the wide open spaces of Glasson Basin.

Lots of sea going vessels moor in this sanctuary.

Lots of masts.

You wouldn’t get them under canal bridges….

Taken from the near the lock into the dock area. Seyella is just left of centre…

Below the canal basin there’s the dock with it’s own lock into the Lune estuary and the Irish Sea. There was a coaster from the Isle of Man loading concrete blocks on the wharf.

MV Silver River loading

The dock was opened in 1787. It gave the opportunity for larger vessels to deliver goods to Lancaster, which were too large for the Lune-side wharves in the town. Initially cargos had to be moved by cart, but with the opening of the canal branch and basin the dock became much busier. But then the railway arrived….

The dock is still active, but the railway is now a cycle track. Hah.

Locks 6, miles 11

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Home from home…

Well we’re back at Hest Bank again! It really is becoming a second home, the locals are getting to know Meg and I when we go out onto the shore to play ball.

It wasn’t planned, the idea was to get to Lancaster today, but the rain the afternoon made cruising less than enjoyable so we called a halt here. Ironically it’s a fine sunny evening now.

We had Joan and Bob come to visit us yesterday. They moor their narrowboat Caroline at Wakefied, and were at a loose end so decided to come across.

We had one of Mag’s spectacular shepherd’s pies for lunch and spent the afternoon catching up with happenings since we last met in June.

Today we were raring to go, Lancaster was our primary objective but if we did really well Galgate was possible. After my morning run, dog walk and a shopping trip to Tesco we untied and moved towards the sanitary station to fill and empty tanks. What should have taken ½ an hour finally took nearer 2 as there were two boats already on the water point. Consequently it was close to 1 o’clock before we left Carnforth.

The day had started brightly but grey clouds were starting to roll in by this time.

The rain started, gently at first, as we reached Bolton-Le-Sands.

I guess it’s OK to use the Waterbus moorings….

Most of the bridges on the canal are of nicely weathered stone, but Bolton Town End Bridge must have been replaced when the A6 was widened.

Bolton Town End Bridge.

At least they decorated it with a cast concrete balustrade….

We saw one or two boats on the move today, but overall the canal remains quiet. I’m glad we’re up here and not queuing for locks on the more popular canals.

I wonder if this house is called “Bay View”?

It must have fine views across the bay from it’s elevated position.

The rain got heavier and I got wetter, so Mags wasn’t surprised when I headed for the bank at around 14:30.

We’ve had a phone call this evening, Mags’ grandson Steven and family want to come and see us tomorrow, so we’ll head for Lancaster for late morning. We’ll probably toddle on down to Galgate later in the day.

Locks 0, miles 3½

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hectic Social Whirl…

It’s all go, up here on the Lancaster Canal. On Saturday we were collected and delivered to Ingleton where we had an excellent dinner and very enjoyable afternoon with friends Val and John, and Mike and Yen.

Then on Sunday Mag's grand-daughter Melanie came over to Hest Bank for lunch. Another good afternoon.

Melanie feeding the swans.

A party from the North West Swan Study was out and about, ringing the juveniles who’ve arrived this year.

The last of the brood, a young male, being done.

The code on the large ring is visible from a distance, and this enables identification of individuals without having to capture them.

The Study is part of a national scheme to track swan population and movement patterns, and each region has a different coloured tag.

He’s a heavy chap, just over 12kg.

The public (us!) can help with the study. If you manage to get the tag ID of any swans, you can notify the collator so the information can be entered on the database. Where seen, when, condition of the bird and any companions should be provided. Information on local birds (with the blue and white ring as in the photos) can be notified to, birds elsewhere via the British Trust for Ornithology website.

All done, ready for release….

Reunited with the family.

“What’s this ‘ere, then?”

Today dawned bright and sunny, and Meg and I took our morning walk along the foreshore. I particularly like this shot…..

“I see no ships…”

Washed up tree trunk at the high water mark.

There are several of these, the result of tidal erosion.

We decided to have another whack at finding a mooring in busy Carnforth, so headed to the winding ‘ole just before Bridge 114, turned around and headed back north.

Leaving Hest Bank moorings

We came past in the opposite direction 35 minutes later.

On those shallow moorings in Bolton-Le-Sands, a new slant on the term “Water Garden”

We arrived at Carnforth as several boats were leaving or had just left, excellent timing.

NB The Owl and The Pussycat moving off.

That space will do nicely, thankyou.

Meg and I took our afternoon meander up onto the rising ground to the east of the canal. There’re some good views looking over the north end of the bay and the Kent estuary from up here.

Looking NW from above Mount Pleasant.

We’ve got more visitors coming tomorrow. Joan and Bob, NB Caroline, are coming over to see us for lunch. We met earlier in the year on the Weaver.

Just as a reminder, and for those that read the blogs with a feed reader, I’m going to stick a link on the bottom of posts for the next 4 weeks. Yes, 4 weeks to The Great North Run. The link will take you to my sponsorship web page. I’m raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support this year. So please help out if you can.

Thanks in anticipation.

Locks 0, miles 4

I’m running The Great North Run to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.