Sunday, 8 September 2013

On the Ribble Link

As soon as Ian and Karen on Tacet announced on their blog that their plans for the year included a visit to the Lancaster Canal, I cheekily asked them if I could accompany them over the Ribble Link. I've been looking forward to it all summer - and yesterday was the day!

I'm sure Karen will tell the story of the day much more eloquently in her blog and unfortunately as soon as I got my camera out I realised that the battery was running low, but here are a few photographs I took and some of my impressions of the day. 
Tacet leaving the visitor moorings and heading for the river lock at Tarleton

There were four boats making the crossing, three narrowboats and a cruiser, which meant two lockings, with Tacet in the first.  You could see from the lock that the tide was advancing up the River Douglas quite strongly, but it was only when the other narrowboat left the lock ahead of us - and was immediately pushed over to the far bank - that I realised just how strong it was.
The boat in front powers down the Douglas having recovered from nearly being sideswiped by the tide on leaving the lock

We punched the tide all the way down the river and Ian was keeping Tacet more-or-less on full revs. After a while the cruiser that had followed us out in the second locking came into sight but the fourth narrowboat began to fall behind.

After about an hour we we'd reached the confluence with the Ribble and, remembering not to cut the corner, we rounded the Astland Lamp and left the Douglas behind.
Rounding the Astland Lamp on the widest stretch of water I've ever been on in a narrowboat
At this point we realised that the third narrowboat was nowhere to be seen and we later learned that it had suffered a breakdown and had to be towed back to Tarleton. I'm not sure who did the job but a quick look on the RNLI website today revealed that the Lytham St Annes lifeboat was launched at 13.07 yesterday, which would have been about the right time, although frustratingly there are no details of the call-out.

Boaters on the link are warned that the entrance to the Savick Brook can be difficult to spot, but the bright green light visible for a considerable distance beforehand is a bit of a giveaway and with Ian keeping Tacet in the centre of the channel to avoid running aground we were all too soon off the Ribble and into the brook.
Entering Savick Brook from the Ribble
Having had the benefit of the high tide this far we then had to wait at a pontoon just before Blackpool Road bridge for the tide to fall far enough to provide enough headroom for us to get under it. Already waiting there was a boat that had come over the Ribble the previous day but hadn't got to Savick Brook in time for the tide (when the green light turns red) and had had to continue to Preston Docks for the night. We spent an hour at the pontoon, during which time we had the only significant rain of the day!

Waiting for the tide to fall so we could all get under Blackpool Road Bridge
Eventually we were told to go forward and this time, we were in the second group for the locks but although I'd been looking forward to a bit of lock-work exercise we found that most of the locks were being worked for us by CRT staff. On the one lock that boaters were being expected to work themselves the group in front had either misunderstood their instructions or just been careless and had left all four paddles open, which delayed us a bit.

The top three locks are a staircase and because of the way they have been squeezed into the available land you have to go through them backwards! It seems odd when you read about it but, as so often, on the ground everything becomes clear.
Tacet waiting to go UP the staircase as a second boat prepares to reverse into the chamber
I think both Ian and myself had assumed that once we were at the top of the link we were "in Preston", which was Tacet's destination for the night but it took us the best part of an hour to reach the terminus due to the lack of depth in the Lancaster Canal. It's also obvious that not many boats come this way, perhaps because of the complete lack of facilities for boaters at the terminus. Ian and Karen were happy to stay there however so I made my way into the town centre for a train home after thanking them for a great day, great company and, Karen, great tea and cakes!
Ian, Karen and Tacet at almost the end of the Lancaster Canal in Preston

1 comment:

Captain Ahab said...

What a great trip Jim.