Friday, 28 June 2013

Well we have eventually made it up onto the Lancaster Canal and are currently moored up on the visitor moorings at Garstang.  Garstang looks like a nice little town with a decent high street and some reasonable shops.  Not spent much time looking around though as the weather is foul and it has rained pretty much all day.  Will probably stop off here on the way back for a better look around.  We have done shopping today in two shifts as we needed too much to carry in one go.  We went to Salisbury's but also found a supermarket called Booths, this is a supermarket that is based mainly in Lancashire and is a bit upmarket kind of like Waitrose.

We were delayed making the trip over here because of the wind and were not allowed out onto the river until Tuesday at 12:30.  This is because both the Douglas and the Ribble are tidal rivers and you have to cross the Ribble estuary.  However Tuesday was a beautiful day, no wind and sunny and the crossing was brilliant.

The famous Harry, who mans Tarleton Lock called the ten boats doing the crossing to the lock at 11:30.  However it took an hour to get us all through so plenty of time waiting at the top to descend.  We were the last pair of boats out of Tarleton Lock and the boat we came down with must have had a big engine as he powered on and was amongst the first to turn onto the Ribble Link.

A selection of the boats moored at the top of Tarleton Lock

We were advised that coming out of the lock we would need to give it some power or the river would push us sideways.  Saw this as the boat that came out with us was just taken sideways.  Amazing the power of water and the tide.

I really enjoyed the trip it seemed very different to the tidal Trent, which we did last year.  It was a brilliant and exciting day.  Normally they only allow boats one way, but as the two previous crossings from Tartleton were cancelled they let ten boats out and another six were coming across from the Lancaster.

Approaching Tarleton Lock

In the lock and going down
Coming out of Tarleton Lock onto the River Douglas, the flow was fast

We're off!!

three of the ten boats let out of the lock!

narrow boat Motex, we later shared locks with them on the Link.

There were six boats coming the other way.  They had an easier job as they weren't battling against the tide!

Catching up some of the other boats!

Turning onto the Ribble Link
The actual crossing took about 3 hours before we turned onto the Ribble Link.  The link opened in 2002 and connects the Lancaster Canal to the rest of the canal network.  It was constructed from the Savick Brook and is a fairly surprising navigation.  It is very twisty and narrow and shallow in places.  In spite of the dire predictions from one of the boaters we came across with we all made it into the link apart from one of the boats we set off with.  But that was because he did not make it in time before they had to shut the sea lock to stop the water level dropping too much. He was directed on to Preston Docks for the night.

Once through the sea lock you have to moor up until the water level has dropped enough to let boats under the first bridge.  Nine boats all hanging together was a sight to see.

Graham reliving the trip with other boaters.

Nine of us all moored together!

It's a bit twisty and narrow here.

There are nine locks including the sea lock on the link.  All are operated by boaters apart from the staircase of three, which are the last locks.  But there were CRT guys at most to lend a hand.  The staircase of three locks is huge and is on a hairpin bend that narrow boats cannot negotiate so has to be reversed into.  A daunting prospect!!
Last bridge before the staircase.

The huge and amazing staircase lock that we had to reverse into.

Reversing into the lock

And onto the Lancaster Canal

It was a long day with the journey along the link taking almost as much time as the crossing itself and we are both knackered.  However it was a fantastic day which I am glad we did. I would recommend it to anyone.  The plan now is to make it to the end and then come back slowly and stop at all the places we want to see more of.  Looking forward to going to Morecombe Bay but hope the weather improves soon.

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