Home + About me + E-mail me + Trips index + Canal game

Lancaster, summer 1991

our boat moored
Cute little boat, with chimney

A 1-week gentle cruise of the navigable length of the Lancaster Canal. This was the first time we hired a boat with just the two of us. Total 82 miles and no locks.

Diary extracts:

Sat 1991-08-31
Arrive 15h at Nu-way Acorn, Carnforth. Boat was a little run down ("Hiawatha") and their only narrow boat, the rest were cruisers and outboard-motored day boats. But very pleasant. Aboard and underway in less than 30 minutes, with absolute minimum of instruction. Boat is minus pole and windlass (so we can't do the branch even if we want to), 2-cyl Lister. Very hot, not a cloud all day. End at Heston Bank, 17h; walk out to sea, over salt flats and "mud" (fine, wet sand I think). Only 300m from boat to shore, over level-crossing of main railway. Most boats noddy-type and carrying noddy-boat people. I moved over to let one pass and not even a glance around in recognition. They all drive very fast, of course. (3+1/2 mi in 90 mins (2.3 mi/h)). Heston Bank is mainly a long-term mooring, with very little space for short-term. Eve Hest Bank Hotel (Boddies). Boat has non-auto taps - open tap and hold down button. Also the horn doesn't work. Engine OK, though and steers very well. Also very responsive to throttle. 13.5m (45ft).
Sun 1991-09-01
Grumpy newsagent; papers for sale out at the back, ones for delivery stacked in the shop. Sunshine, and off by 8h. T-shirt order by 9h. Moor for lunch just past junction, past br 85, and to Plough in Galgate. Lots of moored boats, hard to find a place. Boddies pub. Water at junction (10 min). Moor at 11h20. Away again 13h. Hardly anything moving before 10h; after that boats everywhere, and every one a glass-fibre cruiser. Taking turns steering, with cool-off times. Stopped Garstang, before br 64, at 15h15. Reccy into the town, then laze in sun for afternoon. Total 16 mi, 5h25m, over 3 mi/hr. Eve Wheatsheaf, Matthew Brown (1/2-pt electric auto-pumps), not impressed. Also Farmers Arms, with Jennings Traditional Bitter. Eve completely still, just pleasant to be out.
Mon 1991-09-02
Into Garstang for a paper, then away at 8h30. Shorts and tee-shirt from the start. Still at first, with a little mist still, but a breeze later. Still not a cloud. Couldn't find anywhere to moor at Catforth, so on and moored by br 26 for Hand and Dagger, canalside, food. Greenalls (original) - good. Moor at 12h30. Start again 14h, down to Preston basin. Nothing there, no sign of the boatyard indicated in Nicholsons; just as it says, it's in the middle of nowhere. Passed only one boat apart from Nu-way "Apache" at about 10h, nothing else moving and not a lot else about on this southern reach. New water/sanitary station (water 10 min) just west of br 12 on off-side, nice mooring, but weeded up, presumably from under-use. Moored for night br 22 at 17h. Very difficult to get close to the bank anywhere along this bit. Today 20+1/2 mi = ave 3 mi/hr. Eve "Smith's Arms", 1/2 km S of br 22. Thwaites. Crew of "Apache" say they had "Hiawatha" last year and are finding the cruiser difficult to handle - they were wandering all over the canal and at one time holding us to idle speed.
Tue 1991-09-03
Walk around Lea Town and back via canal - no shops. Sunny again, but a breeze, so clothes on this morning. Start 9h15 - a few more boats this morning, seen 4 moving by 11h, including 2 that appeared from nowhere to go through the swing bridge and force me to run to catch up the boat. Moor 11h45 at br 44 outside "Nell's Tavern" a tacky themed pub/restaurant/hotel set, a bit like a down-market Berni with equivalent level of service. But a free house and the beer was all right. (Boddies, but they had a lot besides.) Lots of people to watch us cast off again at 13h30, 10 mins for water at Garstang, br 63, then stop in the middle of nowhere, between brs 66 and 67 (Nateby) at 15h30. Afternoon lazing in the sun, although a few hazy clouds did come over about 16h..16h15. About 19h, an hour or so before sunset, the grass already felt wet to the touch, as did the roof of the boat, though it was still warm to move about. Some pix of the boat at mooring, and later when the water had stilled after the passage of numerous noddy boats, most of which don't slow down at all on passing. Over the length of the canal, have seen only the three hire places that we found in Nicholsons, and no other narrow boat for hire bar the one we're on (a person on the towpath said he'd had Hiawatha years ago, it's been here a long time; suspect it's 10..20 years old). Eve on boat, watching the sun set and evening start - in almost complete silence (but not of the Scottish Highlands quality, can still hear distant motorcycles/tractors/aeroplanes now and again). Today 14 mi, ave 3.2 mi/h.
Wed 1991-09-04
Start 8h, early mist just burning off. Splitting the mirror-water for the first hour at least, but then passed a narrow boat. Getting to be hot by arrival at junction for water (10 mins), then moor just before br 86 at 10h. Spoke to widow of 2 months just starting out in a new boat "Night Owl", a 9..10m narrow boat. Then walk down to the Glasson basin (about 3 mi) and have a quick drink at Dalton Arms (one of 3 at Glasson by the dock), then walk back to lock 6 which has a new pub/hotel, Millers Tavern (in an old mill) where we had lunch. Back to boat and underway at 14h10, recovering from the exercise. Moor in Lancaster, by the cathedral, between brs 101 and 102. Still hot and sunny, quick forays into city for maps. Moor at 15h45. Today 11 mi, ave 3.2 mi/h. Eve to Chinese "Golden Dragon" near canal, pigging out on mixed hors d'oevres, Peking duck, scallops, sweet and sour + Tetleys. Then a quick drink in "White Cross", a canal-side gin palace.
Thu 1991-09-05
Into Lancaster for shopping and books. Visited city museum, which was remarkable for having McDonald's wrappers stuck on the wall as exhibits (also "Meggazones" pastel tins). Still sunny, but hazy, not so hot. Start off 11h15 (note towpath change-over bridge is numbered 100 on the ground, 101 on all the maps. We moored between 100..101 by physical br nos). Stopped at Hest Bank, before br 117, to eat (12h45..13h25), then on again past the boatyard, to Tewitfield, the limit of navigation. Arr 16h20, 10 mins for water, and moored at 16h30. Not a lot of free mooring, but then not many boats seem to come up here. Right by the M6 (less than 20m). Walked up past the weired locks - canal is culverted at both ends of the flight - and crossed M6 to see it carry on towards Kendal, water level a little low, but still looking like a canal. It's still there to feed the water from the canal reservoir at Killington. Today 11+1/2 mi, ave 2.6 mi/h. This end of the canal narrow and shallow, esp north of Carnforth, can't do much more than a fast idle. Eve to Longlands Hotel, 100m from canal, Bass.
Fri 1991-09-06
Start at 9h30. Engine reluctant to start, lots of smoke and wouldn't idle - perhaps a little colder last night. Also, wouldn't engage gear, had to lift stern sheet and move selector manually. Both recovered after a while. Moor just before br 128 in Carnforth at 11h. Have to re-pack the stern greaser, as it reached the end of its travel. Lunch on the boat, then to visit Steamtown railway museum, though not a lot of actual steam today - one LMS Pacific had a fire in it, but no sign of steam. Sir Nigel Gresley had its frame in the shop and its boiler elsewhere, supposedly to be fit again by autumn '91 - they'll have to get a move on. Ride on a narrow-gauge toy railway behind a diesel loco, up the site and back again. Really, not a lot to see and very few people there. Quick pint in Carnforth Hotel (Boddies), then afternoon relaxing, reading on the boat, the sun still shining. Today 4+3/4 mi, ave 3.2 mi/h. No sign of the 2 Nu-way cruisers up this end, only 3 boats passed us by the end of the afternoon. Everyone sticks to the pretty bits it seems, and rarely visits the extremes. Eve to "Shovel" (a bit rough, and everyone knew each other, but Boddies).
Sat 1991-09-07
Another bright blue sky morning, but only a short potter to arrive at boatyard 8h15.

©nib 2003-03-22..2006-01-08

Home + About me + E-mail me + Trips index + Canal game