Tag Archives: Lancaster Canal

Day 54 – Burn Out

We made a relatively early get-away this morning, hoping to get to the moorings for the Ribble Link before everyone else filled up the places. There’s only room in the basin for a couple of boats, and the next nearest moorings have room for another couple, but up to 6 boats can be going down at once.

We didn’t fancy stopping in the danger zone either! This is due to a nearby factory where they manufacture the fuel rods for nuclear power stations. I’m not convinced hiding inside the boat would help us much if there was a problem with it!

We saw Colin from Iteldoo4me again when we were moored at Bilsborrow, and he’d warned us that a boat had recently been set on fire at the moorings before the Ribble Link. It’s now sunk and mostly below water, but there was room behind it for us to get in too. Another burnt out hull has been lifted out and left alongside another bridge further back. Sounds like an arsonist is on the loose, yikes!

We moored up in the remaining space and then I walked up to the basin to see if there was space for us there. All the mooorings were full, but after chatting with the people there they told me they’d be moving off in an hour or two, after their lunch.

We made the most of the time by having lunch and washing down one side of Oliver, and then once the other boats had left the basin we took their place and got the roof and other side washed down too.

We met Ben in the basin, it’s his 3rd day onboard his boat, and tomorrow he’s doing the Ribble Link single-handed in his cruiser (aka yoghurt pot). Very brave! There were also a few of the locals hanging out with their beer cans. They were very friendly and we shared some of Mum’s lovely cookies with them – which went down a treat. Sarah thought they might help soak up some of the booze!

It’s just after 5pm and no more boats have turned up, much to my surprise. We passed the boats ‘Silver Fox’ and ‘Comfortably Numb’ on our way down, who we both believe are doing the link with us tomorrow, so that’s at least four of us.

Tomorrow will see us back on the Leeds and Liverpool. It’ll be sad to say goodbye to the Lancaster as it’s been great fun, but we’re looking forward to new pastures and new adventures as we head for Liverpool.

Day 53 – A Bump To The Head

After yesterday’s unplanned stop and mooring (we were a good two foot away from the bank), we were awoken to passing boats and the boat rocking in the silt. We were soon on our way to blue skies and sunshine.

The scenery still offered views of the rolling hills. Toby was steering on a left hand bend, with a fat boat (widebeam) approaching and no signs of slowing down. The usual practice is for both boats to go into reverse, to slow down and minimise any impact. The fat boat thought he could just put it in to full throttle and, cut the corner and miss us (was he new to boating, or just a class 1 muppet?). Toby was in reverse, so when the fat boat smacked us, he only pushed us further back. I ran up to the front and gave the chap a few choice words, he said he wasn’t going that fast – he was at this time across the canal and in the bushes….karma maybe??

We stopped at Garstang for a few supplies at Sainsbury’s, a few supplies always turns in to more than a few supplies (as in goodies). Garstang has it’s annual scarecrow festival this weekend, the preparations are well under way.

A quick lunch and then we were on our way again. I really, really , really don’t like strangers taking pics of me, so Toby has shown me a new tactic, holding the guidebook up to disturb the shot.

We passed this interesting building by the railway line, no signage, and no reference to it in the guide books or google maps, any ideas?

We reached Bilsborrow, our resting place for the night. A yoghurt pot had come adrift before our mooring – at first we thought it must be a very sharp bend in the canal. Toby got off with the mallet and pegged it back in to place. That’s the third one in a week.

We had a wander round, and found the pub selling local Wallings ice cream, on such a lovely day, it would be just wrong to not indulge. I went for a rum and raisin waffle cone, and Toby did the double with chocolate and toffee crunch waffle cone, funnily enough, he didn’t want much dinner!

Day 52 – Too Tyred To Continue

Fresh bread baked, and it was time to explore the delights of the Port of Lancaster Smokehouse. We purchased some smoked fish, cheese and chicken to enjoy over the next week, oh and a pot of Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimps for lunch.

The sea lock was in use today with one boat arriving from Brittany and three boats going out, one for sea trials.

We were soon on our way, back up the six locks. The guide book states you have to leave all the locks empty, so we expected to find the locks empty, but no they were all full. The greasy monkey lock keeper (very nice chap, but so called as he was a little too keen with the grease pot and we’ve all ended up with greasy hands) was working at the second lock so I thought I’d ask, he said the book is incorrect, and you leave the lock as you find it, that saved us having to empty all the locks.

I’ve yet to see a Heron catch anything, they’re always on the look out.

We finished the locks and looked for a mooring, with the intention of having lunch and cleaning Oliver. Something caught round the prop and we lost all steerage, having to use the pole to push us to the bank. A lovely lunch of fresh bread and potted Morecambe shrimps, with me doing the washing up and Toby dealing with the prop. Five mins later, Toby returns to say we may be here a while, as we have a motorbike tyre with a metal edge incasing the prop. We used cutters, a junior hacksaw, a saw, a penknife, a dremmel and even my best sewing scissors, but we just couldn’t get through the metal strip.

By 2.30 we decided to call RCR (The AA of the canals), by 6pm Paul arrived, he was well over 6 foot and it was quite a squeeze in the engine bay. We tied a rope round the tyre and fed it under the boat to the bank, while Toby and I pulled, Paul cut a bit more and eased it over the rudder. After an hour it was free to cheers from the bank side.

Toby had great pleasure in throwing the tyre as far out as possible. Phew – all sorted, not quite what we had planned for today, but it worked out in the end.

Day 51 – Gusty Glasson

We waived goodbye to Lancaster, and headed south. Magnet fishing has really taken off in the last year, with someone finding a wheelchair – I guess the question is, was there a body attached when it went in??

The scenery soon changed from the city to the cutting, with straight stretches in the shade of the trees.

A planned water stop and pump out at Galgate. When we first got the boat, I wasn’t really up for the self pumpout, it does whiff a bit, but after seeing your own waste pass through the clear plastic connector pipe as many times as we have, I’m kinda over it! The water tank filled faster than expected and was overflowing. Rather than waste the water by running the tap, we went over to the towpath side of the canal, and Toby indulged in one of the longest boat showers EVER!

We turned on to the Glasson Arm, and the wind was noticeable. The two pictures below show both sides of the bridge ahead of the first lock. Blimey those rack and pinion lock paddles were tough, Toby was desperate for me to steer but with the wind, I didn’t feel confident that Oliver would end up where I wanted!

The lilies lined the banks of the canal, not quite ready to show off their yellow flowers.

The wind made it interesting for me with slightly longer hair than Toby – Toby just looks like a cool dude all the time!

Oliver tied up on the lock landing waiting for the lock to fill.

Toby had concerns that it was too windy to get in to Glasson Basin, and we’d have to moor on the towpath. The wind was blowing in the right direction, and Toby got us in first time – and with the tyres out so no bumping around in the night.

We had a walk around the basin, the River Lune at low tide. We found the Port of Lancaster Smokehouse, but as it was about to close, we decided to head back tomorrow morning – Morecambe potted shrimps may well be on the menu for lunch onboard chez Oliver!

Day 50 – Bullseye!

We’ve hit day 50 today, which feels like a bit of a milestone. 50 days on board…it’s been quite the adventure so far but with lots more to come yet!

After our day trip to Morecambe yesterday, a quieter day today to rest our legs! We started the day by opening an envelope from Barry and Rosemary. We’d thought it was lost, but it turned up at the bottom of one of the shopping bags when we went to M&S yesterday for a food shop – perfect timing. Thanks Barry and Rosemary, we’ll enjoy a meal out in Liverpool, and maybe a sundae too!

We passed some lovely almshouses in the morning, with beautiful flowerbeds out in front. They were part of William Penny’s legacy, founded in 1720 to house the poor in Lancaster, with a small chapel at the back. They are still in use as almshouses to this day.

Our main destination for today was the Lancaster Maritime Museum, located by the banks of the River Lune in the old customs house. The museum had a wide range of different display areas, including the history of fishing and shell-picking in Morecambe Bay, the town’s involvement with the slave trade and trading with the Americas, the history of the Lancaster canal (celebrating it’s 200th anniversary this year), all the way up to the recent history around the oil fields. It kept us entertained for a good few hours.

I practiced my knots…

… and Sarah made friends with one of the locals.

After visiting the museum, we walked back into the centre of town and went to the cinema to watch Toy Story 4. Yes, I still like cartoons / animated films, and so does Sarah. Big kids at heart! We moved seats a few times as Sarah got annoyed with the people sitting behind – maybe Sunday afternoon for a U rated film wasn’t the best timing, but it was good fun anyway.

We then made our way back to Oliver, ready to move on tomorrow. It feels like we’ve been in Lancaster for ages; we’ve really enjoyed our stay here but Glasson is calling.

Day 49 – All Puffed Out

Firstly a picture from yesterday evening and some keen students paddling on the canal on inflatable unicorns. They didn’t return, I’m sure the draw of a pint at the pub had something to do with it.

Today we decided to visit Morecombe and travelled by bus taking the two seats at the front, we got quite a view of the promenade.

We decided against trying to imitate the pose and have a photo looking like a right muppet, we were in the minority.

Morecombe has a pier with arms either side with great views, the tide was going out when we were there, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like on a very high tide.

This weekend is the kite festival, some of the kites were impressive as well as the handling skills. Sadly the wind took a bit of a dip, they struggled to keep those that were up, up, and fly new kites up. I quite like the kite of the lady in the middle, she looks like she’s sat down and taking a rest.

On my to-do list was afternoon tea at art deco Midland Hotel, with their panoramic views over the bay. With the kite festival, and us in t-shirts and shorts, we didn’t think we were dressed as per the other guests, so we opted for a drink in their Ravilious Rotunda Bar. I was somewhat caught out when I followed the ladies loo sign and saw men!!! Had I taken a wrong turn? Although they have different entrances, the facilities are unisex.

We headed back to Lancaster and picked up some food shopping. On our return, every mooring space was full, I wouldn’t like to be moored right outside the pub on a sunny Saturday.

An early blog post today as we’re eating out at the Water Witch.

Day 48 – Lancaster Revisited

We took a short hop down the canal to Lancaster today. We had another holdup with a moored boat coming loose at the stern and floating across the canal, which proved rather difficult to pull in but with help from a walker and another passing boat, we got it sorted eventually.

We reached Lancaster at 10:30; wary of a potential shortage of moorings after last time we’d aimed to get there nice and early, but not too early that nobody had got up and left yet! We need not have worried, there was only one yoghurt pot there with miles of moorings still free. As I write this, there’s still nobody moored between us and the pub a couple of hundred metres away.

First stop was the dentists, who had looked after Sarah so well a few days back. Sarah gave them a box of chocolates and some homemade ginger cake, along with a card. They phoned up later and said they’d be refunding our credit card – not sure if it was related or not, perhaps it’s just karma.

We then headed up to the castle to book the next tour. We had a half-hour wait so visited the priory next door to fill the time. The old choir stalls were amazing. Not so sure about the buy 5 get 1 free candle offer though, it somehow feels wrong in a church!

In the castle, no photography is allowed inside so we could only use this photo from outside. We got the same tour guide as last time – luckily he was very engaging so I didn’t mind hearing him again.

Hungry after escaping the castle prisons (only closed in 2011, and still using poo buckets in the cells up until 1989!), we headed for Atkinsons, a coffee house founded in 1837 and the oldest in Lancaster. We both had toasted ciabattas for lunch, with coffee for me and tea for Sarah. After lunch, we went next door and I bought some ground coffee to take back to Oliver.

Just down from the castle are the Judges’ Lodgings, or Judges’ Houses as I liked to call it, X-Factor style. It’s probably the oldest house in Lancaster, and in later years (1826-1975) visiting judges would stay here when visiting the courts.

On the top floor was a museum of childhood. Sarah thinks her parents still have one of the Fisher Price plastic record players at home.

The Lancaster Cottage Museum was last but not least – though it was the smallest! It’s part of a 1739 house that was split into two in 1820 and has been refurnished to that era. It gave a real feel of how cramped living conditions would have been – and only cost £1 to get in!

We’re back on Oliver for dinner and blog updates, and tomorrow we’re hoping to visit the maritime museum and the Ashton memorial.

Day 47 – The Highs And The Lows

We woke up to blue skies and sunshine, time to get the shorts on and the legs out (albiet pasty white ones). We’d just cast off, I assumed we had a sharp right hand bend as I could see a red boat on the non towpath side. It was only as we got closer, the red boat called snail had come loose on the stern line and was across the canal. Two other boaters helped me bring it alongside with one of the chaps volunteering to walk along the very narrow gunnel – I wasn’t going to say no.

The views out to Morecombe bay were glorious, it’s not often you get see the sand and the sea while on the canal. In the distance is The Lake District.

We’ve not seen many swans, on this occasion we were trying to distract them from the passing dog and owner.

We moored up at 10.45. More washing for me, and Toby worked on the splice for the tube fenders on the side of the boat – why he has to use the chopping board I do not know!

We are moored at Hest Bank, and apparently on a famous mooring, as this is where Pru and Timmy moored on their visit.

We walked down to the Bay at low tide. It’s hard to capture the sheer scale of the sands, how flat, and far-out they reach. We stopped by at the cafe on our way back for ice creams.

We went back at high tide and tried to take a photo at the same location to see the difference. Sadly it’s a low high tide today, so not really the effect we were hoping for!

I managed to spill tea on my shorts, Toby (like his father!!) had left his trousers out, so I thought I’d see if I could get them on and I can – something known as an NSV……a non-scale victory!

We had a feta, bean and sweetcorn salad for tea, Toby had fun feeding the crumbs to the ducks, they became quite familiar and nibbled his hand, although I’m not sure how much you can nibble when you’re all beak and no teeth.

Day 46 – A Brief Encounter with Carnforth

Today we started heading back South, having reached the northernmost point of our Grand Tour. Leaving behind the rush of traffic on the M6, it was an altogether quieter scene on the Lancaster canal.

I’ve heard of buildings with living roofs, but have never seen a boat with one until today! Aptly painted green, it was well camouflaged apart from the bright red toadstools.

There were a few narrow and twisty bends to steer around, and Sarah hasn’t lost her touch after a week away from Oliver. As it always seems, the few oncoming boats we met appeared when going around a corner.

We didn’t have far to go to reach Carnforth, our destination for the day. Despite arriving early though, there were very few places left to moor. We had the choice of opposite the petrol station and close to the road, or a bit further from the road but right by the pub. We went for the pub option – and only just squeezed in front of the slipway.

Safely moored, we then headed for the Carnforth Station Heritage Centre. The train station is most famous for being the setting of the film Brief Encounter, with the clock a central feature. They were continuously screening the film, but also had lots of other exhibits about the town, the station, the age of steam and such.

We used Sarah’s selfie-stick so we could get ourselves and the clock in together – though clearly I need more practice so I don’t get my hand in shot too!

There was even a carriage window replica so we could recreate a scene from the film… but I was more impressed with their cakes, which were delicious!

Suitably replenished, we slowly meandered back to Oliver via Tesco, to enjoy the warmth and sunshine of the early evening whilst reading the paper.

Day 45 – Is My Bite Worse Than My Bark?

While munching on an oatcake at dinner yesterday, I had a sharp pain in my recently filled tooth, and then a constant stabbing pain – not good news, as the dentist said if the flling didn’t work, I’d need root canal treatment. Going home again would be complicated, so we resarched local dentists in Lancaster. 9am and I was on the phone to the private Bay Dental Surgery who kindly agreed to see me at 10am. It was a quick dash over to Lancaster (thanks Romy and Peter) and we just about made it. The dentist was lovely, he didn’t think I needed root canal treatment, and that I probably just jolted it – apparently I have a strong bite! He filed down the filling and sent me on my way. Touch wood, so far so good. We were lucky as the lady who answered the phone was the dentist’s wife, so she ‘pulled in a favour’.

The original course of the Lancaster canal terminated at Kendal, so we decided to spend the day there as it’s only 8 miles from the current terminus. We visited a fabulous chocolate shop, I could have been tempted by one or two. We did buy a box of chocolates to say thank you to the Bay Dental Practice – I checked….they do eat goodies!

We visited the Quaker Tapestry Museum with 40 embroidered panels covering the 350 years . Our favourite tapestry is the one of the tall ships.

We passed Trinity Church, and lit candles for loved ones lost, it’s a sad reminder how many family and friends and are no longer with us.

We followed the culture walk around Kendal and took in all the various sights, the Civic Society have been quite active in putting up plaques with useul information. We had the obligatory selfie, the photo on the right made me smile, how did we cope before mobile phones?

We had dinner in the local restuarant before saying cheerio to Romy and Peter who tomorrow begin the journey back home. We’ll also be casting off tomorrow, and looking forward to new waters.