Category Archives: River Ribble

Now Thursday Has Turned Into Sunday! 25th May

Barrowford Visitor Mooring to Pipe Bridge 116A

Yesterday Mick had walked down to see if the Locks were actually locked overnight. There was a padlock on a chain, but it was just resting on the lock beam. This meant no lie in waiting for 10am and that today we’d be on our way at 8am.

The day started off with blue skies and warmth

Barrowford Locks drop you down 67ft 9″, passing Barrowford Reservoir and ducking under the M65 before you arrive at Nelson then Brierfield before cruising through Burnley. There was nobody else about showing intention of using the locks so we’d be on our own.

Looking across at the reservoir

The bywashes ran fast, just about every lock in our favour, the odd one requiring a top up. By the second lock we got views over the reservoir, Barrowford is one that has been drained of for works to be carried out on it, small puddles of water sit surrounded by greenery as diggers moved about on the far banks kicking up dust.

There were plenty of dog walkers out, one black lab lumbered along with a big stick. When it reached a lock bridge, which are quite narrow, it laid down it’s prized piece of tree and walked across, leaving said stick for it’s owner to pick up and move across to the other side where the lab picked it up again and trotted on across the field.

As we rounded the final bend with the last two locks to go we came across contractors about to trim the grass and an uphill boat. As soon as the strimmers started up there was no chance of chatting to anyone, they continued as Oleanna lowered in the chamber, Mick feeling slightly vulnerable with the strimmer above him, kicking grass etc about.

By 9:45am we were on the long pound following the contour. The miles on the mile posts grew to Leeds and lowered to Liverpool. This side of the canal a much more industrial landscape, the backs of mills and far less green hillocks fill the view. Lesser spotted supermarket trolleys show their wheels frequently as the bottom of the canal is quite lumpy. At one bridge a pontoon was set up with a scaff tower on it. Chalked numbers all over the underside of the bridge, it must have been having a survey done, wonder how deep the pitting is?

Our schedule had us mooring just north of Burnley Embankment today, but we’d nudged things along a bit planning on a longer day to reach a favourite mooring. When we first cruised this end of the Leeds Liverpool back in 2014 Bank Hall Dry Dock had just been taken over and there was a flurry of activity. Today sadly it looks very different, maybe even closed the big shutter door firmly closed.

A few more wiggles and then straight ahead of us was Burnley Embankment. The banks over grown, we made comments about how it was one of the Wonders of the Waterways and how you would think it would be more impressive, some tlc to help show it off. We passed the lines of chimney pots and looked down on the streets, maybe one day we’ll see it from below and not just when shopping at Tescos.

On the far side there were flashing lights and several men in workwear orange. Maybe the embankment was getting some tlc. The towpath has been resurfaced and a gang of workers were busy shovelling out top soil along the verges. Another chap brushed off new mortar where the wall had been rebuilt whilst a member of the public sat on a bench dancing aided by music and at least three open cans of larger.

Round the far end came a tug, pushing more than it’s weight in water, the waves it left behind getting on for 18″. This did not please the boats moored at the new (to us) Finsley Gate Wharf. Here there is a new pub, rooms to hire and three moorings to go with it for patrons, each space filled with boats bobbing up and down. It looked rather appealing and would warrant a visit next time.

In stark contrast shutters cover the windows and doors of The Inn on the Wharf. This is where people used to moor to visit Burnley, not one boat outside today.

Strawberries on their way

A pause to top up with water at Rosegrove Services. Volunteers were busy working on some fruit and veg raised beds, signs saying to help yourself. In a week or so there will be strawberries, some gooseberry plants and maybe some salady bits all kept under nets.

From here on we’d be criss crossing under the M65, we’d already been over the top of it, then under it whilst in Gannow Tunnel. Our Waterways Routes map shows where the course of the canal was altered so as to avoid even more bridges. The trough of the canal along these stretches is concrete.

There seems to have been a fashion in this part of the world for astroturf. Five houses side by side each having a slightly different shade of plastic green!

An old life raft overtook us, heading for the next stretch of permanent moorings where it winded and moored. Soon we were back with the view stretching for miles and miles, the Ribble sitting below the hills. Past one redundant swing bridge and then we’d reached our destination for today. Pipe Bridge 116A.

Here you can appreciate the view from inside your boat. The M65 buzzes away above whilst sheep and cattle graze on both sides of the canal. Tilly headed off to explore, it took her a little while to find the friendly cover on the other side of the fence.

Roast chicken, yumm!

We had a late lunch then I set to preparing tonights meal. Back in Skipton we’d bought suitable things for a Sunday roast, but the veg were looking like they wouldn’t last, so we decided to have it tonight instead.

All week I’ve been confused about which day it was, this nearly always happens around Thursdays . Nearly every day this week has felt like a Thursday, now Thursday has turned into Sunday! It’s soo confusing!!

Camera set to auto

After eating we took stools out to watch the sun set. Such a great view, we’ve never known it disappoint. I span the dial on my camera round and discovered that since it went away to be mended it seems to have some new settings. The photo above was taken normally, the one below with one of the new settings, the scene we saw was more like the one below.

Impressive Art setting

7 locks, 14 miles, 1 tunnel, 1 embankment, 3 boats moving, 1 tug causing many furrowed brows, 1 smart towpath, 1 more dead pub, 1 new pub, 1 week of Thursdays ending with a Sunday, 1 roast chicken, 1 confused sheep, 1 misty sunset, 5 new camera settings.

Where To Now?

Over the last few months our aim has been to get to see family. Heading to London meant we’d be able to see all our siblings bar one with relative ease. But what about that missing one, Anne! How could we get to see Anne?

Anne isn’t in the south. In fact Anne is quite a lot lot further north. This would take some planning.

The first part of our route would see us leaving Rembrandt Gardens and retracing our steps back to Fradley Junction. Here though we would turn left and head up to Great Haywood, Stoke, Middlewich. Onto the Bridgewater Canal (you have to book that online now), up to Leigh and join the Leeds Liverpool Canal. West to the Rufford Branch, turn down there to Tarleton. Another booking would need to be made to cross from the River Douglas to the River Ribble, then up Savick Brook and The Ribble Link on to the Lancaster Canal.

Up to Glasson

Just over 22.5 miles of the Lancaster Canal would bring us to the Glasson Branch where we’d head down the locks to the Basin. This portion of the journey would amount to 315 miles 2.75 furlongs and take us through 197 locks so a bit more effort required than our trip to London from Goole. According to Canalplan this would take us 153 hours and 36 minutes, so at 7 hours a day (which we rarely do) it would take us 22 days, add in a few days off for bad weather, waiting for the tides to be right crossing to the Lancaster Canal, so make it 29 days.

Then our journey would require a touch more planning, mostly on the food and wine stakes as I’m not too sure whether we’d find many shops on route. We could visit The Port of Lancaster Smokehouse before we left, their smoked goods would last us a while.

Glasson across Morecombe Bay

Choosing a suitable tide we’d exit through the lock out onto the River Lune, keeping to the channel away from the numerous sandbanks, heading southwards before we turn to the west, crossing Morecombe Bay and heading to Barrow-in-Furness where we’d pull in for a night at West of Duddon Sands Windfarm.

Up to Barrow-in-Furness

This would be 19.42 miles, so at 6mph 3.25 hrs cruising time, we may however have had to wait for the tide to turn so as to avoid all the sand banks on Morecombe Bay.

Barrow to St Bees

Continuing northwards we’d pop out alongside Sandscale Haws National Nature Reserve, hugging the coast passing Sellafield to near to St Bees, where the coast to Coast walk starts. We’d beach here for the night. 32.6 miles, so a 6 hour day.

Passing the nuclear coast

Still hugging the coast we would pass Whitehaven and pull in at Harrington Marina. A short day with only 10.5 miles, 1.75 hours. I think we’d have a meal at The Lifeboat Inn, except it doesn’t look like they serve food, so it would be smoked salmon again!

To Brighouse Bay

From here we’d set a course to the North West and Scotland. Yes we could pull in to Kirkcudbright but I’d rather beach at Brighouse Bay a favourite bay from my early college years. 25.75 miles , 4 to 5 hours cruise avoiding the rocky headland.

Our course would now be South West, crossing to the Isle of Whithorn, just over 11.8 miles, 2 hours, but there is a small harbour here and a Post Office with a shop where we could pick up some milk.

Brighouse to Isle of Whithorn to Cairnryan

From here we’d go back out to sea, cross from Cutcloy to the Mull of Galloway, then hug the coast, keeping an eye on the lighthouses at Crammag Head, Killantringan and Corsewall, popping into Loch Ryan to moor up with the P&O ferries at Cairnryan for a much needed break after the 69 miles of concentration taking 11.5 hours.

To Ailsa Craig

An almost due north course of 20 miles, 3.3 hours, would have us pull up on Ailsa Craig, where we’d make use of the little jetty.

Overnight at Troon

Heading back to the west coast near Turnberry we’d skirt our way northwards to pull in at Troon. Here we’d stock up on a few bits and bobs at Morrisons and check in with the RNLI. 28.25 miles, 4.75 hours.

Ardrossan to visit the castle

From Troon we’d cut across the bay avoiding the SSSI of Bogside Flats and what looks like a lovely beach. Hooking round into Ardrossan Harbour, an Asda and a Castle to visit here, well it’s only 9 miles so we’d have to fill the rest of the day.

Maybe we’ll stop off at the islands on the way back

We’d keep along the coast then to the east of Little Cumbrae and Great Cumbrae where we would take advantage of the Clydeport Road which stretches out into channel. 10 miles, maybe 2 hours to avoid larger vessles.

We’ll have a kip at Kip

Northwards to Inverkip where we’d seek shelter in Kip Marina, hopefully they have a visitor mooring suitable for a narrowboat. Just over 11 miles, so 2 hours cruise.

The final leg

Round to Gourock where it looks like there is a pontoon in the bay. Tilly may have to swim ashore for supplies. 6 miles, so we might just add this onto the day before or after, all weather dependant of course!

Our Destination

From here a North Easterly course will bring us across the mouth of Gare Loch and Helensburgh Ferry Terminal, 4 miles, so under an hour. Hopefully we won’t get in the way of the PS Waverley for a few days. From here we are kind of hoping that Anne might just come and pick us up by car as I think they live up the hill a touch.

Route round to Scotland

So in total we would have 45 hours cruising at sea, over about 12 days, so back to our more normal cruising times, with one long day.

So Anne we’ll see you around the 11th 12th August. Hope that’s okay!

198 locks, 572.7 miles, 41 days, 4th sister, 1 plan, or maybe we could go up the east coast!