Monthly Archives: Aug 2017

Southwards Bound. 30th August

Lancaster to Galgate Basin

After Mick had cycled to Halfords for some engine oil and then we’d walked to Sainsburys to restock the food cupboards we pushed off and headed backwards to the services. A quarter of a mile Oleanna did exactly as was required of her and only one adjustment was needed to bring us into the mooring. Who needs bow thrusters anyway! Once tanks were filled, emptied, rubbish disposed of and a chicken had been jointed we continued to make our way southwards.

P1120588smThe sun was out and made our departure from Lancaster a very green one. If ever I had to move here I’d like to live in one of the houses on Aldecliffe Road. With a view out over the canal and a field of sheep and cows opposite, what a lovely location, the houses don’t look bad either.

P1120599smAfter several days of only a wall to look at they had promised me fields and trees today. Several times they tried to stop in great places, but just carried on. I really don’t understand, having to jump on and off the boat is great fun, but they don’t seem to think so.

Instead of persuading Oleanna to moor in a lovely quiet spot, in the end we decided to carry on and catch Blackbird up at Galgate. As the Basin appeared into view so did the back of Blackbird with Bridget waving. There was space behind them and once we’d tied up the doors were all opened up for the second mate to make the most of the afternoon and evening.

P1120615smP1120616smA short shower threatened to put us off having a barbecue, but luckily it passed over quickly and didn’t extinguish the coals. All six of us had a lovely evening. Max on his lead and Tilly strutting her stuff. The two of them were interested, but Tilly kept her distance and didn’t do her Mohican impression once. Three cows wanted to join in, poking their noses through the hedge to see what was cooking, but backed away at the thought of us wanting a steak each. Much food and wine was enjoyed until the coals cooled off in the dark.

P1120609smDSCF7117sm0 locks, 4.67miles, 0.24 reversed, 1 full water tank, 1 empty yellow tank, 3 aborted attempts to moor, 1 shower, 3 bovine barbecue friends, 2 second mates, 2 barbecues light, 2 guiding lights, 1 happy cat.

Post Restante. 29th August

Lancaster

A friend of mine has been looking for a knitter to make some things for her Etsy shop, so I have offered to have a go. She wanted to send me some wool, so last week I rang round just about every post office on the Lancaster Canal to find one that offered the Post Restante service. None of them in Lancaster or the main office in Preston did this service. Post Restante means that you can have post (as long as it is sent by Royal Mail or Parcel Force) sent to a Post Office addressed to you there for collection. We’ve used it a couple of times before and it is very handy.

After beating my head against the cabin sides when I couldn’t find a Post Office to send the wool to I then gave the marina in Garstang a call and cheekily asked them if they would accept a parcel for me. The chap there uummed for a bit and then said that I could. Brilliant! I did however pursue the Post Restante service and rang Royal Mail, the chap there was flummoxed too, as most branches now offer Local Collect for internet purchases which is very similar. He suggested contacting the Post Office via their website. This has proved interesting.

Originally I thought that the service was offered at the branches discretion, this is not so as is explained in the following response to my email “This service is available at all Post Office branches, the service is offered at the discretion of Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd not the individual branches. Any office that refuses to offer this service should be advised to contact their helpline. I believe the trouble you have experienced, possibly stems from the offices not knowing what the Poste Restante service is. If you can provide the names of these branches we can contact them and explain about the service. Hopefully this would resolve the problems you have experienced.”

If you are wanting anything sending to you around the Lancaster area all of the Post Offices should now know about the service.

So today we jumped on a bus to go and collect my parcel from the marina. The bus driver suggested that we bought a family dayrider rather than a rider each. This would save us 40p and if we bought a couple of children whilst we were out they would travel for free. Looks like family tickets are the way forward for lots of things. After about half an hour, most of which was spent driving around the University we arrived in Garstang and walked our way to the canal and marina. Here was my parcel waiting for me at the chandlers, some rather lovely muted brown wool.

P1120575smBack to the bus stop and on to Preston. My mobile phone has been mended and was sent back last week to the shop. It turned out that as my phone screen was slightly cracked this meant that the repair couldn’t be done under warranty. I still had another year on contract so my hands were tied into paying for it to be mended. Grrr! At least I now have a phone that works (I hope) and it isn’t huge like the one I had on loan from EE.

P1120571smP1120569smP1120568smNext I wanted to visit the Abakhan shop. Bridget had mentioned the Chester store to me a while ago, so I wanted to look round. Wow! How much fabric?! The shop has the usual buy fabric by the meter, which is all around the outside of the shop. But then on racks there are off cuts of fabric, averaging about 2m in length. They are collected together in type of fabric and colours, just about every fabric is there. These off cuts you buy by weight, not length. Plain cotton £9.95 a kilo etc. Not good if you need fabric for long curtains, but fine for most other things as you can get more than one piece if you can match the colours. Upstairs was a wool and haberdashery heaven. I had a good look round, refrained from buying any wool but did pick up enough fabric to make a couple of chunky bags and some red that I’ve been wanting for a rug on Oleanna. Looks like I’m going to be busy with needles and hooks.

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 buses, 4 bridges, 1 open parcel, 250gram wool, 2 jacket potatoes, 2 teas, 1 mended phone, 1 Aladdin’s fabric cave, 2.5kg of fabric, 1 tension square needing to be knitted.

Back to Lancaster. 28th August

Hest Bank to BW Depot, Lancaster

P1120430smAfter a cooked breakfast (photo for Frank and Ade) we headed off towards Lancaster. There were a few things we still wanted to see so we waved goodbye to Blackbird for a couple of days.

P1120446smThe grey morning had brought quite strong winds with it and the occasional bit of drizzle. As we retraced our route a boat came around a bend up ahead, as it got closer we realised that we knew the chap at the helm. It was Roger who is one of the original syndicate members from NB Winding Down. We hope to meet up with him before we head back across the Ribble.

P1120454smSoon the Lune Aqueduct came into view. We really wanted to have a look at it from below, so Mick had a go at pulling in to moor up. With most of the galley drawers open due to the list we decided to tie up and go for a walk. Down the steep steps to the river bank. Here we could see the five 21m arches spanning the river, the short lengths of balustrade matching each arch. Designed by John Rennie and opened in 1797 it is the largest all-masonry aqueduct in Britain.

P1120478smP1120459smP1120473smP1120479smThe arches support a stone trough, special volcanic pozzolana powder was imported and mixed with cement, which allowed the concrete to set under water. Looking up under the arches you can see that the structure has leaked for a very long time. The folds of stalagmites run down the arches and drip on you as you walk by. Back in June 2015 a section of the embankment south of the aqueduct had a significant leak, which necessitated a lengthy closure. Access to site was hard, the canal needed dewatering, fish had to be rescued, suitable clay was brought in from Leicestershire to mend the holes. This all took time and many boats were stranded north of the aqueduct. Today our passage was easy and it was well worth stopping to have a look upwards.

P1120502smA swan and her seven offspring decided to escort us into the city. After a distance they gave up and let us pass, but this was only for them to then have a flying lesson heading straight for us. They all succeeded in taking off and all narrowly missed us when landing!

P1120510smP1120518sm.Once we’d found a space in the moorings we walked up the hill behind the canal. Our destination kept bobbing up above the tree line and reminding us which way we should be heading. Williamson Park occupies the highest hill in Lancaster. At it’s highest point stands the Ashton Memorial. Commissioned by Lord Ashton as a tribute to his late wife it was designed by John Belcher and completed in 1909. It dominates the skyline of Lancaster and when close to it it draws you in and up the steps on the west side.

P1120537smP1120531smP1120545smThe interior has been restored and now hosts parties and weddings. Climbing up more steps to the viewing balcony gives you fantastic views for miles. We could see Blackpool Tower, The Midland Hotel in Morecambe and right over to Grange-over-sands. Quite a sight.

P1120561smHowever my sight of trees on top of a smooth wall was not so good. No matter how much I shouted at it there was no way to climb to the top. The gap was too big to even jump from the roof of the boat. So instead I’ve had to amuse myself by running through the boat.

DSCF7114sm0 locks, 4.47 miles, 1 aqueduct, 1 Roger, 8 winged near misses, 12 ladies in black, 1 in white, 184 steps to the top, 180 degrees of views, 2 late for butterflies, 1 dinosaur man, 1 looney cat.

Them There Hills And The Head. 27th August

Hest Bank

P1120267smAs we had breakfast this morning our peace was disturbed  by rowers oars scraping along the side of Oleanna. The canal isn’t wide here, but we were still avoidable. When the third boat in succession did this Mick started to bang on the hatch window, we are allowed to mark our freshly painted gunnels, not them! More boats kept coming but we found that standing watching from the hatch and saying a cheery ‘Morning’ kept them away. Tilly really didn’t know what to make of them, with her ears flattened she followed them past from her vantage point.

We called for Bridget and Storm and headed to catch the 755 bus, we’d checked the times this morning so didn’t have a long wait. The front seat upstairs was free so we grabbed it, much to the dismay of young Finley at a later stop. We were headed for them there hills and Kendal.

P1120271smP1120281smP1120286smNone of us had ever really visited Kendal in the past, I’d once been sent on a mission to find some amber coals for a show in Bowness, but hadn’t had time to explore as we did today. The town was much bigger than we’d expected. A market town which originally traded in wool, the town motto being ‘Pannus mihi panis’, meaning ‘wool is my bread’. The town prospered with the trade of wool, cloth being produced on hand looms in peoples homes, similar to silk in Macclesfield.

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Kendal is famous for a few other things, it has a strong link to the footwear industry, K-shoes was based here until the factory closed in 2003. But of course the most famous export from the town is Kendal Mint Cake, a must in your rucksack for walkers and mountaineers.

But today we were here to find the Canal Head. We could have walked from Tewtifield, but 14 miles seemed a little excessive. So we hunted it out for ourselves using a canal guide, OS maps and google maps.

P1120321smA recycling centre now stands where the end of the canal once was. On the other side of a cycle path you can see stone work that suggests where the canal once finished. It was known as The Black and White Canal due to it’s cargo, coal from Lancashire and limestone from Cumbria. The packet boats also carried passengers from Kendal to Preston, a far more comfortable ride than by stagecoach.

P1120333smWe followed the path heading southwards to see the canal bridges spanning tarmac. The first had been widened at some point, most probably to cope with the ever increasing traffic over it. Patches of what had been the cut were being left by the local school to see what plants would grow and what wildlife would be attracted. Crossing over a road the path continued passing a large depot for electrical works. Huge bobbins of cable sat at arms length form us, just how much copper was behind the razor wire?

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The next bridge built in 1819 was a roving bridge changing the towpath from one side to the other. This is the only roving bridge in Cumbria and was restored and reopened in 2002. It has pleasing curves but is still not a patch on the Macc bridges. The canal route south of here continued as a wide path for both pedestrians and bikes. Hopefully one day the canal will reopen, there is a lot of work to be done, but not as much as we’d thought. Suspect it won’t be in our lifetime though.

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We headed back into Kendal looking for a cafe for a bite to eat and a sit down. At The Brewery Arts Centre there was music in the gardens and the bar was open, but sadly no food available. Several of my shows have toured here from Hull Truck over the years, but I’d never been. A walk further up into the town and surprisingly for a bank holiday weekend most places were closed, others were too expensive.

P1120363smSo in the end we opted for a sandwich each at the Shakespeare pub. Here a theatre had been built at the top of the yard, opening in 1829, but despite actors such as Edmund Kean walking it’s boards it closed five years later due to opposition form local Quakers, Presbyterians and Temperance groups. The building was later converted into a chapel.

P1120378smP1120386smP1120408smP1120399smWith buses only running every two hours we had quite a bit of time to kill. So went for an explore away from the town centre. Many yards and lanes lead off the main street to flights of steps which took us high up, very reminiscent of the old town in Scarborough. One house part way down some steps would cost £325,000 to buy. It had a large garden but was in need of some updating, however with no road access this will prove costly for someone. The houses clung onto the side of the valley and every now and then a view would open out across the valley. How interesting would a time lapse be from such a vantage point over the last few hundred years.

P1120422smWith lots of interesting buildings about the town we were constantly stopping to read about them before we caught the next bus back to Slyne.

P1120428sm0 locks, 0 miles, 2 buses, 9 rowing boats, 1 gunnel inspection needed, 2 front seats bagsied, 1 town to explore, 2 bridges over tarmac, 1 canal head found, 2 blue doors, 2 theatres, 4 sandwiches, 4 cordial and soda waters, 2 many cars, 1 set of steps to views, 0.5 hours watching the river, 6.30 pm too late for cats.

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Who Stole The Sea! 26th August

Hest Bank to a bit further on

Mick walked up the way to see if there were any spaces further up with a bit more sunshine. There was so we decided to chance getting into the side a bit further up. Our first attempt didn’t go well as the bottom was very visible, but the second gap came up trumps, we were in to the side and level! Here our solar panel would gain some quality rays whilst we had a trip out.

P1120104smP1120114smWhen we reached the bus stop we were three quarters of an hour early for the next bus, so we decided to walk to Morecambe. Down the hill until the road met the sea. Except there was something amiss, the sea! Ahead of us across the bay there was next to no water, maybe the hurricane in the States had stolen it all. What a vast difference from yesterday, sand banks right across the twelve miles to Ulverston. Low tide had passed and the tide was on it’s way in, not that we could tell at this point at all. Boats lay on the mud flats, birds padded around avoiding the quick sand.

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The sun had come out and it was a lovely day to walk along the shoreline. The sea wall here has recently been replaced. The new sea reflection wall measures 1m high. All the openings have names and carvings associated with local things. Most are fairly ordinary but the pair of glasses could only have belonged to one person, but more of him later. Everywhere felt clean and with the mounds of rocks down to the sand/mud it had an antipodean feeling about it. Coming from Scarborough we are used to hills surrounding our seaside resorts, but here as in Blackpool the land is flat, so is the bay, but in the hazy distance the fells of the Lake District give some interest.

P1120124smP1120139smAs we walked we suddenly became aware that the tide was now coming in at a rate of knots. An area in front of us where there was a sandbank had a swirl of white gradually crossing it. We could actually see the sea surround the bank cutting it off and then gradually engulf it all within a matter of minutes. The speed was quite scary. Water rose around the boats ahead of us, almost as soon as one boat was level and floating again it sped upstream along the channel of one of the rivers, beaching itself for a short while.

P1120154smP1120158smP1120166smP1120171smP1120172smBy the time we had reached the shops and Winter Gardens we were in need of some refreshment. Becky had given me a tip off for chilled medication here, so we headed inside to see what flavours took our fancy. Storm had never had a Knickerbocker Glory, so decided today he would change that. The rest of us opted for three flavours. No tea was required. Brucciani’s first opened in 1939, the local paper feared that it might not be good for the sedate Victorian image of Morecambe and that its presence could be positively harmful to young people. It is now a Grade 2 listed building, with it’s simple pale oak high street deco interior it is worth a visit anyway, add in the chilled medication and it is a must. The tables are not big, but then who needs it when you are concentrating on your three scoops.

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Feeling a bit revived and maybe a little bit high on ice cream we then carried on along the front towards The Midland Hotel and the Stone Jetty. Originally the jetty formed the harbours western wall, built around 1853 by the Little North Western Railway Company as a wharf and rail terminal for both cargo and passengers. It was rebuilt and extended in 1994/95 as part of the coastal defence work and now has games that you can play and many bird sculptures along it’s length. It had only taken our break for chilled medication for all the sand banks to disappear under the water. The sea had returned!

P1120229smP1120195smThen we turned to appreciate the Midland Hotel in full, sparkling in the days sunshine. People were on the terrace enjoying a beer, others were starting to enjoy afternoon tea inside. We’d thought about this, but at £21 each we couldn’t justify it. One day we may save up for a night here, B&B would set you back anywhere between £125 for a Classic room to £270 for a Luxury Sea View room. However the rooms have all been reimagined, which means that there are few if any original features left.

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A Streamline Modern building, built by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), in 1933, to the designs of Oliver Hill, with sculpture by Eric Gill, and murals by Eric Ravilious. It was built as the railway companies showcase hotel, following the curve of the promenade and making the most of the spectacular views across the bay. Seven years, later during the war, it was requisitioned and it became a hospital. In it’s first year it had treated 3700 patients, 1000 airmen were fitted with spectacles. After years of neglect along with the fall in popularity of Morecambe it closed it’s doors in 1998 and was left to the mercy of the sea. Urban Splash in 2003 came forward wanting to return the Midland Hotel back to it’s 1930’s glory. It reopened in 2008.

P1120241smOne thing left to do and that was to find Eric. So we back tracked along the promenade. As he faces away from the sea, we’d missed him high above us as we’d been busy looking at pavement decorations and looking forward to our medication. Born in 1926 John Eric Bartholomew took his stage name from his home town, Morecambe. Little really needs to be said about the man who has made us all laugh out loud. His statue by Graham Ibbeson (who also did the scupture of Laurel and Hardy in Ulverston), was unveiled by the Queen in 1999.

P1120237smP1120248smP1120246smP1120250smEric’s pose is a familiar one from the end of Morecambe and Wise. Down the steps are the lyrics from ‘Bring Me Sunshine’, their parting song. A list of stars who appeared on the show with them circle around on the floor in front of him along with every catch phrase. Each one so familiar, bringing a smile to your face. A lovely tribute to the man.

P1120259smOnce we’d found a paper shop we caught the bus back to Hest Bank, the walk back would have been a bit too much!

P1120175smDSCF7114sm0 locks, 0.14 miles, 2 attempts at mooring, 5.5 miles walked, 1 glorious seaside day, 0 sea, 12 miles across, 3 x 3 scoups, 1st knickerbocker glory, 30’s deco everywhere, 1 curlew joke, 2 many cormorants, 1 very fast tide, £21 a bit too much, 3s in abundance, +4s, 1 pair binoculars, 1 very funny man, 2 papers, 33 Bare Circular, 1 bus ride, 2 hours now 6 and counting!

I Can See The Sea. 25th August

Carnforth to Hest Bank South Bridge 117
P1120004smIt took a while for us to do our chores this morning, which included a visit to Tescos. Blackbird went on ahead. Just as we were about to push off a hire boat was trying to do the same a short distance back so we waited as they struggled to get off the side. With hind sight we should have gone first as their progress was very very slow, Oleanna didn’t come out of tick over for a mile and a half where they pulled in.
P1120005smP1120012smP1120016smLumps and bumps under the water slowed our progress off and on, but by now the views of Morecambe Bay were with us, so taking our time didn’t matter. I hoped off at the bridge before the swing bridge, equipped with keys to unlock it. However  the bridge is just held in place by one big hook. The twists and turns brought the sea close to the canal before it moved slightly away. through the next bridge we could see Blackbird moored up nice and close to the side. With space in front we pulled in, well as far as we could! We could get in, but the list we were on would mean that the shower wouldn’t drain terribly well. So we tried a couple more times, ending up with quite a gap, but at least we were level. That was until the next boat passed, the effect pushing us up onto the side again.
P1120035smP1120039smThis afternoon we’ve all been for an explore. All! I was left behind!! We followed a footpath through the wood behind our mooring, crossed a road and then took a snicket which passed over the railway line to the beach.Our mooring is far closer than our house in Scarborough is to the beach. But then there is sand in Scarborough, here it was rocky with the odd patch of sand.
P1120055smP1120063smA hazy view across the water to where the train had taken us a few days ago, Grange-over-Sands and Ulverston. Max enjoyed himself in the waves as we walked picking up shells as we went. Looking out to sea Morecambe sat on the horizon as a yacht disappeared round the headland.
P1120067smP1120078smThere is a sign that marks the Public Right Of Way Across the sands which ends at Kents Bank. We don’t fancy doing this walk even with a guide to keep us safe.
Walking back we waited for a train to pass so that we could cross the tracks. The barriers were down for a long time and yet only four cars had been held up, at most swing bridges I score a greater number. Just by the level crossing is the old Station House. Hest Bank had a station from 1846 to 1969. During the thirties it became remarkable as it was the only one between Preston and Carlisle that had electric lighting.
This evening we will try out The Hest Bank Inn where, according to our Nicholsons guide, there used to hang a guiding light in one of the windows to guide people across the sands. We won’t be lighting our guiding light in the cratch whilst we’re here just in case.
DSCF7114sm0 locks, 3.61 miles, 1 swing bridge, 0 held up, 1 late start, 1 full water tank, 1 empty yellow tank, 1 fridge full, 1 slow boat to Bolton, 2 groundings, 2 boobs covered, 1 pirate raft, 1 off level mooring, 12 shells, 1 soggy doggy, 3 needed trains, 1 level crossing, 4 held up,  grade 3, 1 skin head, 2 hours on the dot.

Conquering The North. 24th August

Tewitfield to Limit of Navigation to Carnforth Services

P1110968smThis morning Oleanna and Blackbird conquered the north.

P1110964smP1110944smWe both winded and then reversed in to use the services at the end of navigation at Tewitfield. This is the furthest north in the country that you can get your boat on the canal network. If the locks up to Kendal ever get restored then there will be another 14 miles of canal heading further north.  Both boats celebrated by topping up their water tanks and disposing of some rubbish. This now means that we have to conquer the south, west and east most points of the canal network. West is Llangollen, South is Godalming and East is Brandon Lock on The Little Ouse.

Our night at Tewitfield had been a noisy one, the motorway never sleeps. So a plan of getting a bus into Kendal will now happen from somewhere further south. With visitors due today we set off first and retraced our way back to Carnforth. A load of washing had been done before setting off to make use of a sunny day and a Dorset Apple Cake was popped in the oven, having visitors gave me an excuse to bake.

P1110973smMeeting an oncoming boat at the permanent moorings in Borwick wasn’t so good. There was only just enough space for us to pass, that was after we’d found the limitation of how far we could get over to the side! Then further on the shallow water caught Mick out, it seemed like we were mid channel, but the shallow water extended right over and we bumped and grazed over into deeper water.

P1110982smBack in Carnforth we tried pulling in before the services. Oleanna came into the side, but on a list, so we moved up and took the mooring that Blackbird had had yesterday morning. Washing hung out and a quick tidy up. The doors were opened and Tilly could come and go for the remainder of the day.

P1110988smOur first visitors were Sue (Mick’s cousin) and Sefton, who live near Lancaster. We hadn’t seen them for about six years, so it was nice to spend a couple of hours catching up on their side of the family, drinking tea and eating warm apple cake. It’s been a while since we showed people around Oleanna, so we weren’t quite as word perfect as we’d been in London. Thank you Sue for the courgettes and the tomato and basil sauce, they will go down very well.

P1110991smLater in the afternoon we were joined by Becky who lives even closer only a mile and a half away. I know Becky from my Scarborough days, she was a favourite actor at the SJT. One Christmas she rented my house that was on the digs list and I had the pleasure of designing a full blown squirrel costume for her to wear in the original production of Improbable Fiction. She now spends much of her time arranging flowers that she has grown herself. Today had been her first funeral flowers and on Saturday she has her first wedding bouquets. A lovely jam jar of flowers arrived with her, which will sit on our table until Tilly has disposed of them. Well such things are always outside where nobody notices me batting them.

P1110996smP1120001smA lovely day catching up.

0 locks, 3.88 miles, 1 wind, 1 reverse, 2 boats at the north pole, 2 full tanks, 2 near groundings, 1 appley lemony cake, 2 slices each! 1 cousin, 2 courgettes, 1 jar sauce, 1 actor/florist, 1 jar of flowers, 6 hours of doors open, 9 year old temper tantrum, 1 lovely day.