A Mouse In The Hand. 21st August

Penny Street Bridge to Carnforth Services

Time to move on, Tilly was very pleased as when the engine was started up she started to do rapid laps of Oleanna in excitement. A quick shop at Sainsburys and we were ready to push off shortly after Blackbird took the lead.

P1110598smP1110616smThe approach to the Lune Aqueduct is surrounded by trees, so no chance of seeing the structure before rounding the bend to cross it, we’ll have to try to stop somewhere on our way back and walk to have a proper look from a different angle. A work boat had pulled out in between our two boats and seemed to be hovering at the start to the aqueduct. Lots of chaps wearing high vis were on the towpath and one on the off side. He busied himself and then (after doing a rapid risk assessment) launched himself onto the work boat and then to the towpath. They were in the process of pumping resin into parts of the structure. Large cowpats of foamy resin sat along the side of the canal trough looking like expanding foam had been used to fill large holes.

P1110619smViews up and down stream were just possible as we followed the work boat across. Designed by John Rennie and completed in 1797, it consists of five stone arches that support the stone trough. 660ft long and 60ft high. When built it went over budget by more than 2.5 times which is one of the reasons the Lancaster Canal was never joined to the main network with a Ribbel Aqueduct.

Our aim for the day was Hest Bank where the sea comes very close to the canal. Both boats were in need of water, but it seems that the metal boxes along the moorings are no longer water points. Old chaps stood on the towpath said that they’d not worked for years! Even if they had worked the long line of moorings was filled with more git gaps than boats, which would have made it impossible for us to pull in anyway. A quick decision was made to continue on to Carnforth another few miles on where there would be water. We will return with full water tanks as Hest Bank definitely needs exploring.

P1110643smP1110659smThe views out across Morecombe Bay were tantalisingly glimpsed as we passed houses to the west. On the east side of the canal, houses were banked up high to make the most of the view. Even though it was a grey day the views were great. This would be where you’d want a permanent mooring on the Lancaster, well apart from the lack of fresh water! The views kept coming so much so that a swing bridge crept up on Blackbird and surprised them. Following behind we thought Max had needed a call of nature and had jumped from the roof to the towpath, so Bridget had been dropped off to be with him. Then Storm seemed to be having difficulty steering, having to push the bow out a couple of times. We hadn’t spotted the bridge either!

P1110661smP1110667smOn we pootled the extra miles and arrived at Carnforth, pulling up onto the water point, filling one tank as we emptied another and disposed of our rubbish. Once done we reversed back to the moorings to help fill a gap and vacate the services for Blackbird. The first gap was too close to the petrol station so we carried on backwards, with the occasional second of bow thruster. But behind the moorings it was too shallow, neither the bow nor stern would get anywhere close enough. So we tried back on the moorings, but a ledge or something submerged here stopped us from getting in too. A hire boat pulled off in front, so we tried pulling Oleanna into their space, but no luck there we were obviously  that little bit too deep. One second of bow thruster too much and the fuse blew again! In the end, frustrated, we managed to fit in just behind Blackbird with our stern sitting out.

P1110673smP1110675smWith pram hood raised we could now leave a chink in the back doors just big enough for our second mate to observe what was happening on the towpath whilst inside we stayed dry as the rain started. So they changed the outside to here! What use is a boring wall and a bench. I had to stand my ground several times to protect the towpath from passing woofers. But soon I ventured a bit further on where there were trees and sideways trees to keep me occupied. Before the rain got going Mick tried out a drain unblockery type thing he’d bought in Lancaster. This easily passed through the mesh on the bow thruster tube and easily passed all the way through to the other side. Oh for a weed hatch in the bow so that we could see what is going on.

Tilly pleased to be outside again decided to bring a new found friend home to play. Luckily for it it was a bit in shock when she dropped it on the floor. With a second to react I managed to pick it up before it found a handy hiding place behind the sofa. With it popped out of the hatch, we closed the doors keeping Tilly inside whilst it hopefully made it’s way to freedom again.

This evening we sampled the beer at The Canal Turn pub. One pint was enough for us as it didn’t taste too good and the open  mic night needed an amount of retuning. So we retired back to Blackbird for a couple of bottles of wine to round the evening off.

DSCF7114sm0 locks, 7.92 miles, 0.2 miles reversed, 6812 cans of expanding foam, 9 boats, 11 git gaps, 3 metal boxes, 0 water, 1 fantastic view, 1 swing bridge, 1 full water tank, 1 empty yellow tank, 5 attempts to moor, 1 cosy mooring with Blackbird, 1 friend, 1 game of hide and seek foiled, 1 mouse rescue, 4 pints not worth drinking, 2 bottles, 1 red, 1 white.