Sunday, 29 April 2012


Mmm, well I had read other peoples blogs recently & several have mentioned a new layout on blogger but the last time I updated it was as usual so assumed it hadn't affected me but it has now! Just logged on to do a new post  & all change, I suppose 'they' have their reasons, so here goes......
Despite the April showers we are really enjoying the Lancaster Canal
View of the distant fells from the mooring near Brock & a big sky
 Nesting Swan at Burton Grange Marina, thoughtfully protected by a fence  
Tuesday & time to move on. I decided to walk & remembered the camera
I passed this Bluebell wood,  the sun obliged for a few minutes while I took some pics.

 We ended up on the 7 day moorings in Garstang, just a few yards before the Wyre Aqueduct
  it's quite impressive, above 
& below
 There are some wooden steps down the side of the aqueduct leading to a path by the river which is a handy shortcut to Sainsburys.  If you walk along the towpath to bridge 62 you pass some handy refuse bins & then it's an easy stroll into the town. 
It's been quite pleasant here but time to move, tomorrow the weather is looking dry for a change & we need to be getting on towards Lancaster & Carnforth, my vacuum cleaner has died & I've ordered a new one from Tescos  It's on their 'click & collect' system & we have two weeks in which to pick it up but don't think the cleaning will wait that long, I did some this morning with a dustpan & brush, not much fun! 

Some random photos from this week...
 Soona enjoying some fresh air from the safety of the sliding hatch
 a rainbow in the washing up!
 I did some washing on Friday, when I'm not 100% sure about the weather I leave the back cover up, just taking the sides off & hang stuff from the frame, as it happened it didn't rain & everything dried :) Sid was enjoying sitting in the sun  amongst it all hiding from the walkers & more importantly, the walkers dogs.
The new blogger layout has worked okay, I seem to have managed to get this far without any hitches ;)

Saturday, 21 April 2012

On the Lancaster Canal, eventually...

It was all systems go at 10am on Thursday morning, Harry Mayor the lock keeper at Tarleton had given us a briefing & at 10.15 we were last out of the lock, behind 4 other boats. It was cold, windy & raining.
it's not long before the River gets wide
& a bit choppy in the wind
            a fuzzy picture of an oyster catcher, they wouldn't sit still to have their photo's taken...
Passing Asland Lamp, you have to go round the lamp to avoid a 'wall' under the water then it's turn right, unless you want to go out to sea in which case go left. ;)
 We had been battling with the wind & according to the GPS struggled to do more than 3mph on this stretch, the other boats being way ahead of us. About 12 o'clock Steve, one of the BW crew rang to say we wouldn't make the link in time (they can only keep the sea lock open for a certain time after which the water would be too low to be navigable) & told us to keep straight on to Preston Dock & we could do the link tomorrow. 
 I rang the dock & dock control said they could see us ( it's a long straight here which makes things seem nearer than they are !) & we could just about see the dock through the binoculars. They said that they really needed to close the lock just after 1pm but they would try to wait for us.
 That last stretch seemed to take forever & the dock never getting any closer.... 

 but we made it & at 1.35pm it was into the waiting lock, phew! 
Sighs of relief as we go up the lock, into the dock & onto the visitor mooring.  
Once we'd warmed up we decided to take advantage of our situation & did a bit of shopping in the nearby Morrisons
 At 11am yesterday morning the lock keeper let us back out onto the river, which was much calmer & although some clouds about it was mainly sunny & much less windy so altogether a much pleasanter cruise.
 The entrance to Savick Brook, not very big, the clue is in the name!
 The green light is on meaning the sea lock is open
 Approaching the sea lock, it's quite unimposing really. A few minutes later & we moored on the pontoons just round the corner to wait for the other boats (us being 1st this time!) & the water level to drop sufficiently to be able to...
 ...get under the bridge, loads of room :)
 The water level is quite low, we need to keep to the middle, 
it's plain to see why they had to close the sea lock yesterday
 The next lock & plenty of help as BW lend a hand
 A bit of a problem at lock 5, Wide beam 'Jester', which was in front of us had difficulty in filling the lock as water was pouring out of the bottom gates, a bit much for a common or garden leak. When the lock was emptied for us & nb 'me & mine' to enter the right hand gate wouldn't open, a tree branch was pushed out of the way & we got in but still had a problem as the gates wouldn't close,  a bit of digging  with our boat hooks brought up another tree branch & Mark managed to lean over the stern & grab it, no triumphant pics I'm afraid - too busy making sure he didn't fall in ( that will be a picture!! )
 Waiting under the bridge whilst nb me & mine reverses into the bottom of the staircase locks it's easier to reverse in than to try & turn as it's a bit tight for space 
 Reversing into the middle staircase lock

 & finally, a day late, we are on the Lancaster Canal!

We spent last night near Briers Bridge & then off at 7.15 this morning as we wanted to find a paper shop & then a spot for the rest of the weekend. We found the shop in Bilsbarrow,  there's also a service point here so we could empty rubbish & loos. Once that was sorted we trundled about half a mile & found a nice spot just past the Brock Aqueduct  with good views of the distant fells. It's Sid friendly so he's happy after a few days being stuck indoors & there is Barton Grange Garden Centre just over on the other side so we may stroll over there tomorrow, weather permitting.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


After a cold, blustery & showery cruise this morning we are now moored up on the visitor moorings in Tarleton, ready for our trip up the Ribble Link in the morning, when we arrived there were 2 other boats here but several more have arrived during the afternoon.
Before leaving Rufford this morning we called into St Mary's Marina for a top up of diesel ( 95p domestic / self declare) & a gas bottle, we also were given some useful hints & tips for the crossing tomorrow.
Once tied up we had a walk into the village to get some supplies from the Co-op & after a spot of lunch walked up to have a look at the river lock...
... onto the River Douglas

It is raining hard now with a stiff breeze, hope it improves a bit before morning...

Sunday, 15 April 2012


We left Parbold on Wednesday morning, arriving at Burscough mid morning. Our  intention was just to stop long enough  do a bit of shopping then move on to find a nice bit of countryside but by the time we got back from Tesco the weather had turned showery & as the moorings were pleasant enough so we decided to stay put. Burscough is a bustling village with plenty of independent shops as well as Tesco & a Co-op, a couple of banks & a Railway Station, a good place to stock up on supplies.  
Thursday dawned sunny with a good forecast  so we made the best of it by getting the train to Southport, somewhere we'd never previously visited & what a delightful place it is, after a quick coffee stop we walked the length of the pier,

 The view from the pier, it's a hazy Blackpool Tower, we could also see the hills of Cumbria but my camera's zoom is not really good enough to take a picture, but in a couple of weeks we will be getting a bit closer to them when we get onto the Lancaster Canal.
We did plenty of walking & 'did'  the pier again before leaving, so as to see the sea as the tide was coming in making the best of our day at the seaside.

Friday saw us moving into the countryside beyond Burscough, we needed to wind ( turn round) at some point so the plan was to head to the winding hole, wind & then moor for the night but the dreaded sloping stone edge  was hampering our efforts & we passed the first winding hole but then we saw a likely spot beyond bridge 28 so up to the next winding hole at bridge 27a, an easy wind despite 2 boats being moored in the winding hole then back to the mooring which was spot on, a nice flat grassy edge. 

 Sunset on the reeds, view from the hatch
 Looking back to our mooring spot as we left yesterday morning.

It was about 9am when we set off after Mark had given the batteries a service, I jumped off at bridge 30, a swing bridge which is permanently open, to walk up to New Lane Swing Bridge which is electrically controlled but there was a problem, the barriers were down & a key was in the lock & refused to budge. A phone call to BW told us that it had already been reported & a couple of BW chaps turned up about 15 mins later so that was okay & off we went to the next bridge, also an electrically controlled one, put my key in the lock & up came the readout " Bridge operation unavailable" great! Another phone call to BW & 25 mins later the same 2 chaps were on the scene to see us through. I do love the Leeds Liverpool Canal but not the bl***y swing  bridges!! 

Burscough was next, we filled up with water, emptied loos & rubbish at the smart & clean service point then moved up to the moorings, a quick nip to the shops for a paper & bread & we were off again. I walked ahead to set the lock & check all was clear for Mark to turn onto the Rufford Branch, as I turned the corner the BW van with the 2 chaps from the bridges was parked up so I'm thinking "now what!" but all was fine, they were just doing their rounds.
The locks on the Rufford Arm are brutes with all but one against us & by now the wind had got up with showers threatening but we just got stuck in & pushed on finally moored up just before the last lock at a nice spot with a wide towpath which will be ideal for some wood sawing tomorrow.

 In the field opposite are a small flock of sheep, not sure of the breed, Jacobs maybe? Anyway the lambs are very cute.
We've had a lazy day today, walked to the small shop/garage for a paper this morning with coffee & cake at Fettlers Marina Cafe on the way back ( slight diversion but worth it!) Then a couple of pints of some real ale in the Hesketh Arms this afternoon with Phil& Gina, some friends from our Bluewater days who are lucky enough to now moor in this lovely spot. We need to be in Tarleton on Wednesday ready for our trip up the Ribble Link on Thursday ( very excited!!) but not sure whether  to move up on Tuesday or Wednesday as the weather forecast for Tuesday isn't too good, just hope it's okay for Thursday!

Monday, 9 April 2012


Whilst moored in Wigan we did some bits & bobs of shopping which included a sturdy D bolt to make sure the new anchor is securely attached to it's chain & a new 'sitting outside' chair for me. The wood holding the seat in place on one of our director chairs had split & whilst a repair may have been possible, they were never that comfy for sprawling & dozing in so I opted to get a new one,  Mark's quite happy with the remaining director chair & the old one made some good kindling,
As usual when a purchase is imminent I did some research & a few places, Amazon, Argos etc had what looked like comfy chairs with plenty of buyer reviews but I wanted to try for myself before buying, Wigan has a branch of Go Outdoors which is just a 5 minute walk from the canal & I had already picked out a chair on their web site but when I tried it out was not keen so after trying every other chair in the store I ended up with this one which I never would have chosen from how it looked on a web page, so pleased I was able to try before I parted with my cash. 
Of course, since I bought it the weather has reverted back to a more seasonable norm, I will have to wait a while before giving it a full road test!

After Wigan our next port of call was Crooke where we spent a peaceful couple of days after the noise of Wigan, Coverit called & hope to do the template for the new cratch cover 'after Easter' .
On Wednesday we moved the short hop to Gathurst & on Wednesday evening we went  to The Baby Elephant for a meal, it was excellent both food & service. We stayed at Gathurst until yesterday, as the station was handy for me to get to Manchester but as soon as I got back yesterday morning we upped pins as the stone canal side slopes & Mark  had had enough of the boat banging against it every time a boat went past plus we needed water.

The water point is on the very short lock landing on the left as you emerge from Dean Lock & if we hadn't really needed water we wouldn't have bothered, it was quite a faff getting in position not helped by gusting winds but we got there in the end & got the tank filled. By the time we got to Appley Lock the gongoozlers were out in force so no shortage of willing hands to push the gates but small children not very well supervised near locks always make me nervous....

We had hoped to moor in Parbold but found the visitor moorings had the same sloping stone side & we could only get to within 18" of the bank, even if we'd used the plank we we'd have been banging again so we carried on a few hundred yards & found a nice spot with no nasty sloping edge & lovely open views. Our plan is to stay put for at least today due to the dire weather forecast ( shouldn't complain really as we do need rain) & probably tomorrow, there is a small convenience store for essentials in the village open today & other small shops that will no doubt be open tomorrow.  We might be sitting out the weather but lots of other boats are on the move, I don't envy them!

 Sid isn't impressed with the rain either, 
ripping up a empty egg box helps to relieve the boredom.