Title picture: A beautiful canalside garden outside Preston
Two nights before the Ribble Link southbound. Our planned progress was held up yesterday by a gale. We were about an hour outside of Garstang and chugged through to moor up for groceries but having found a tree protected spot we decided to stay put for the day.
We then did 1.5 days worth of chugging to get back on track - despite it looking very wet in the forecast we had a shower to moisten us shortly after setting of and then dryish and surprisingly warm. We tied up opposite the best herd of dairy cows that we have found all trip. All very curious to greet us but they disappeared for milking later in the afternoon.
The weedy end of the canal
In order to fully complete this canal I insisted that we did the last 5 miles past the turnoff for the Link into Preston. It was much more attractive than expected, and saw a pair of swans nesting on the most unattractive rubbish that had hatched their brood! The first we’ve seen. Probably about 8 chicks. We proceeded slowly, even more slowly after we picked up an inner tube and other less identifiable rubbish around the prop. We stopped mid canal and I allowed J to investigate the weed hatch and clear the prop.
Swan and hatched chicks on rubbish heap
We winded at the last opportunity at the end of the canal (once upon a time 1890’s?? this canal was intended to be connected to the Leeds and Liverpool canal at this point by a tramway) as indicated by the canal guide. We were half way through our turn when some irate local homeowner came out of his castle and started loudly informing us that we shouldn’t be turning there, not sure what his beef was, but don’t live next to a canal if you don’t like boats. There are few enough of them using this canal as it is.
We also encountered another winding hole further up the Lancaster where the adjacent houses had been infilling at the end of their gardens and objecting to boats turning and disturbing their earthworks.
On returning from collecting garbage from Preston we turned into to the basin for boats waiting for the Ribble Link. We tied up alongside a boat that came up with us 20 days ago. Tonight there are 6 boats ready and waiting for the off in the morning.
On the morning of departure, the two women on one of boats changed their mind about coming across. They had only had the boat for 2 days and had booked a pilot to come with them, however he called and cancelled at the last minute. Despite the enthusiastic support of the other 5 boats and the excellent weather, they decided to call it off at the last minute.
Someone came up with a great suggestion that they should take passage with one of the boats and experience the trip and maybe leave the next day. This was done - they weren’t with us but they enjoyed the trip. I’d love to know how they got on today, the condition of the untried by them engine would be my main concern).
An exceptionally cute kitten - with impeccable bathroom habits(?)
I think the link is easier southbound (OK we knew better what to expect). We knew that despite how torturous the bends and curves were you could get through, and leaving Savick brook onto the Ribble is easier than trying to find the opening from the Ribble. The turning onto the Douglas is very clear and I was surprised to find that we were not fighting the ebb as fiercely as when we came out of the Tarleton lock into the flood tide.
Backing into the top staircase lock.
We were also graced by a beautiful day, it started overcast and gradually became sunnier and calm as a mill pond. All our careful stowage of loose items (including the flowers on the deck) proved unnecessary! The actual river part of the trip is only 2 - 2.25 hours. The CRT guys who control the locks are very accustomed to shepherding their flotillas and have plenty of leeway for completing the non-tidal portion. Once on the river you need to keep up a significantly higher pace than usual - hence needing to trust your engine at higher than usual revs for a prolonged period. We borrowed lifejackets and an anchor as mandated but happily didn’t need to use either.
We tied up in Tarleton after the crossing and enjoyed a sunny afternoon being serenaded by the obstreperous white geese on the opposite bank.
Making the turn onto the Douglas - like a millpond
Now that we are back from the Never Never Land that is the Lancaster, it’s all over bar the trip back to Stafford. We have to retrace our wake for the first half of the trip, but things are much greener now. There are ducklings, young moorhens, cygnets, goslings.
The coronation appears to have gone off without a hitch despite the weather, even the King can’t fix that. There didn’t seem to be as many canal side jamborees as for the platinum jubilee. We wore our bidegradable flags for the day.
Less than two weeks to go…