Thursday 31 August

It was raining quite heavily when we woke and it was forecast to continue all morning.  However by 10.30 am the sky brightened and we got ready to move off.

We crossed the canal to the water point first and then led the way to the Glasson Branch; a 2.5 mile branch off the Lancaster Canal that drops down through six locks towards the mouth of the River Lune and out to sea.

The first of the six double locks was just set back from the mouth of the junction.  To operate these locks you just need a CRT waterways key as the windlasses are already welded to the paddle gear.  The locks all have to be left empty of water, so our first job was to fill the lock.  The first set of paddles opened quite easily and once the lock was full, we put our backs to the heavy gates and they opened slowly.   Once fully open Blackbird and Oleanna nudged their way in.  We closed the gates behind them.

The front paddles were another matter.  The large windlasses took some turning and Pip and I both struggled.   The front paddle gear is similar to that on the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Bingley.   We managed eventually and without doing ourselves any harm.   I know we haven’t done any locks for three weeks, and might be out of practice, but nevertheless these were heavy!

Pip and I walked with Max from one lock to another.  At the second lock there was a kingfisher sitting on the lock tail.   Sadly I didn’t have my camera with me and by the time I’d alerted Pip to come with hers, it had flown off.

The water was so clear you could see the bottom and Mick reported that he’d seen lots of fish in the canal.

By now there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  The countryside looked glorious in the sunshine.  Between locks 4 and 5 there was an abundance of ripe brambles.  I intend walking back to pick these before we leave.

After lock six there is another mile of weed filled canal before the basin.

We moored up on the visitor moorings where there is electricity available if you have a CRT pre-payment card.   This is the view from our kitchen window.

After a bite of lunch we had a walk around the small port of Glasson, locating the shop, the pub and the smoke house.   I think we’ll be visiting all three before we leave.

Leaving the village behind, we walked along the side of the River Lune towards Conder Green.  The footpath runs along the disused railway line that is now part of the The Bay Cycleway which runs all round Morecambe Bay, from the Southern Lakes terminating in Glasson.

It was a perfect Summer’s afternoon for a walk; sunny with a pleasant, warm breeze.


Wednesday 30 August

Last night our scissor frame clothes airer dramatically collapsed with metal fatigue, dumping all our clean, but still damp, washing on the floor.  Thankfully this morning the sun was shining so the first job was to swap the TV aerial pole for the rotary drier and hang everything out to dry.

As we weren’t going anywhere today, a cooked breakfast followed and then a spot of house-keeping.

During the afternoon we had a circular stroll down the towpath and back through Galgate village before returning.  I then set about making some bread rolls with half a mind to having a BBQ tonight.

Pip and Mick arrived, pulling in just behind us, late afternoon and they thought a BBQ was a good idea – the first time this trip.

We disappeared from the towpath to prepare food.  As we were getting ready to put out the table and a chairs we felt a few drops of rain.   We couldn’t see any threatening clouds so we ignored them and carried on setting our things out on the towpath.

The cows in the field the other side of the hedge came to see what we were doing but seemed to disappear when I mentioned ‘steak’.

Pip had picked up a couple of corn on the cobs (at Sainsburys, not from a nearby field!) and had managed to cut them in half.  We had them drizzled with butter for a starter.  We cooked our separate mains; we had beef burgers and sausages with a bit of salad, while Pip and Mick had a healthier mix of tofu kebabs and turkey steaks. The bread rolls were passed round while we ate and then we finished off with ‘Trim Tiramisu’ (an Ainsley Harriot low fat recipe).

As it grew darker, Pip’s guiding lights came out.  We had a chuckle at the fact that these had both been gifts from us to them at different times, and on neither occasion had we thought of buying one for ourselves!

By 9.30 we were starting to feel the cold so having made sure our BBQ fires were out, we tidied up and retired indoors.

Tuesday 29 August

We looked at how we might restock with food to see us over the next few days.  With only a small ice-box in the top of the fridge, an no freezer, we need to shop quite regularly.  We considered an on-line shop but couldn’t find anywhere with a road nearby and a mooring where we could sit and wait for a delivery.

The nearest supermarkets were Sainsburys in Lancaster or Asda and Morrisons in Morecambe.  Buses from Hest Bank stop at Morrisons so that decided it.

We headed out to catch the No 755 bus at 10.28.  Unfortunately this bus was running half an hour late today and so by the time we’d done our shopping we’d missed the bus back we’d rather have caught.  We considered getting a taxi back, but as we had all afternoon to reach Galgate, our destination for the day, we went for a coffee before catching the 13.07 bus back to the boat.

While I put everything away Storm took down the rear canopy and made ready to leave.  We pootled slowly back to Lancaster, crossing the Lune Aqueduct that we visited yesterday, before pausing briefly at the sanitary station to fill up with water and empty out our rubbish.   The elson disposal was out of order but thankfully there is another at Galgate so we continued on, leaving Lancaster at 4pm.

What’s on the bottom?

Oleanna was moored up in Lancaster and there was no sign of anyone so we texted to let them know we’d gone on ahead.

No one home

We’d made it to Galgate by 5pm, used the services there  and then moored up opposite.  We’ll stay here until Oleanna joins us again.

Monday 28 August

Pip and Mick were planning to move on today as they’re wanting to travel to Preston tomorrow and this is easier from Lancaster than Hest Bank.  As there is only limited mooring in Lancaster and as we’ve pretty much ‘done’ all the obvious site seeing there, we decided to stay at Hest Bank another night.

For the last two days while we’ve been out, Max has been left guarding the boat so today we thought we’d spoil him.   It was 2.5 miles along the towpath to Rennie’s Lune Aqueduct.  (We passed over this on our way north and as there hadn’t been anywhere to moor we’d promised ourselves that we’d explore it on our way back.)

We made up a packed lunch and struck out south on foot.  It was overcast as we set out although the sun came out as we walked but with a chilly breeze.

Max ran free and he enjoyed exploring every gap in the hedge along the way, running backwards and forwards between us.

The hedgerows were full of brambles but we didn’t have enough time left in the day to stop and pick sufficient fruit for jam making.

We made it to the aqueduct and sat and enjoyed our picnic before crossing 600 feet to the other side and clambering down the steps to the River Lune 60 feet below.

The information board told how in 1794 60 trees had been driven into the river bed before stone columns were placed on top.  It made a brief mention that the river had been drained and diverted and this must have taken some doing as the river is quite wide at this point.  The building costs were a precise £48,320.18s.6d.

Having photographed it from different angles, we set off back to the boat, stopping off at Beaumont Turnpike Bridge to call in at the Spar Shop there to buy bread and milk.  We also treated ourselves to two ice-lollies.

We’ve walked five miles today and Max has probably covered twice that.  For most of the way back he carried quite a large branch before walking into the canal to cool himself down.  Cyclists and walkers were forced to work their way round Max as they passed us.

We called in at the pub for a well deserved drink before dinner.

Sunday 27 August

A bit of a lie in, then a quick tidy round and dinner prepared before Pip and Mick joined us and we headed out to catch the 11.11 bus to Kendal.  An “Adult NW Explorer” ticket at £11 was the price we paid on the 755 bus from Rushley Drive at Hest Bank.  We sat upstairs occupying the front four seats.

For some of the way our journey ran parallel to the canal along the A6 and it was fun to see familiar   places from a different height.

After passing the Tewitfield locks, that marked the end of the navigable canal (and where we reached last Wednesday), the A6 veered further west than the line of the dis-used canal so we sat back to enjoy the scenery of the remaining 15 miles to Kendal.  (It is possible, using Google Earth on line, to follow the line that the canal once took.  The canal remains in water as far as Stainton Beck but after that it appears as a dark green line interrupted by occasional bridges standing isolated in the middle of fields).

Neither Storm nor I can recall visiting Kendal before, even though we’ve visited The Lakes many times in the past and we were pleasantly surprised at its charm.    There was a good range of shops, interesting architecture, an illustrated history told on information boards around the town, the River Kent and lots of arts and culture to be enjoyed, all set amongst the beautiful backdrop of the Cumbrian hills.

The Recycling Centre – coping stones of the canal still visible

With the help of Google Maps we managed to find the original terminus at Canal Head North, now built over by the Recycling Centre.  We followed the footpath south which runs along the line of the original canal and came across a canal bridge that was still in good repair.

A little further on we came across the Kendal Changeling bridge, the only turnover bridge in Cumbria, and which is now a listed building.  Instead of follow the route of the canal further we returned to town.

Changeline bridge – used when towpath changed sides to transport horses pulling barges, without needing to untie them.

After lunch with two hours remaining before it was time to catch our bus back, we wandered away from the town through one of the many “yards” that found us twisting and turning up snickets and down snickets to look at some of the many attractive stone houses with wonderful views over Kendal’s rooftops to the hills beyond.

Eventually a little footweary, we sat beside the river watching the birds balancing on the weir top for a while before going to the bus stop to catch the late arriving bus home.

The bus took a different route back, along narrow lanes which with the sway of the double decker bus gave us a good upper body workout as we tried to stay in our seats.

We got off the bus at a different stop and Mick used his Google Maps app on his phone to find the quickest route back to the boats via snickets, footpaths and finally the towpath.

It was nearly 7pm when we got back and I’m sure we’d covered several miles on foot, as well as about 44 miles by bus.

Saturday 26 August

Mick called by to say that they were going to move Oleanna forward into the sunshine in the hope that they could also get tight into the bank.  Before following we thought we’d just see whether Mick was successful.  There were too possible spaces; the first had an obstruction in the water, the second was much better and Oleanna fitted perfectly.  That decided it – we’d stay put!  We don’t have any solar panels to charge.

As the sun was shining we decided we’d head for Morecambe today.  None of us had checked the bus times and instead we walked the 1.5 miles to the “Welcome to Morecambe” sign and then carried on beyond that along the promenade.

The tide was well out and we couldn’t see the sea, just a huge expanse of sand.  We checked the tables and discovered we’d missed low tide and that the water was actually on its way back in.

As we walked I suddenly became aware of water and if we’d not seen it with our own eyes we wouldn’t have believed how fast the tide comes in – you could see it racing in with the naked eye.  No wonder people get caught out!

A friend of Pip’s had recommended that we visit Brucciani’s ice-cream parlour and that we ‘eat in’.

The Grade II listed art deco 1938 interior was in excellent condition.  We looked for a list of the icecream flavours available and instead these were reeled off very quickly by the girl at the counter. The choice of flavours was numerous.

Storm had never had a knickerbocker glory before and so his order was easy.  The rest of us decided to have three different flavours of ice-cream, but which three?   We all agreed afterwards that we’d made good choices.

Afterwards we headed towards the stone jetty beyond the Midland Hotel.  In the time it had taken us to eat our ice-cream the huge expanse of sand in the bay had almost gone.

After a walk along the jetty, we came back to call in at the Midland Hotel.  We’d considered calling in to take ‘afternoon tea’ but at £21 each we thought this a little steep for four unwaged travellers.

Unfortunately at this point my camera battery died and so I don’t have any photographs of the interior.   I suspect there may be some on NB Oleanna’s blog.

We couldn’t visit Morecambe without seeing Eric’s memorial statue where families were posing with him for a “Bring Me Sunshine” photograph.

Having exhausted the obvious sights, we went in search of a newsagents so we could pick up our weekly fix, before hunting down a bus to take us back to Hest Bank.

We’re planning a quiet night in tonight as we’ve another outing planned for tomorrow!

Friday 25 August

The plan today was to reach Hest Bank before lunch, and before the Bank Holiday weekend boaters nabbed all the moorings there.  This is where the Lancaster Canal is within yards of the sands of Morecambe Bay with the hills of the Lake District as a backdrop – a very scenic place.

After a quick trip to Tesco to buy some fresh fruit and veg, we set off ahead, leaving NB Oleanna still topping up with water.

We’d only gone about half a mile when we came across a narrowboat that was broadside across the canal.  We stopped some distance away to give them space to manoeuvre.  We weren’t sure how they’d managed to get into the position they had.   They were aground with their bow stuck and despite trying to pole off at the front and engaging reverse gear, their boat wasn’t shifting.

We tried to edge nearer to offer them our bow rope so we could pull them off.  The only problem was that as we tried to edge forward I discovered we too were grounded.  We were mid-canal and there was something in the water under us.  Storm managed to pole us off and once floating again we edged forward and Storm went to the front of our boat to hand them our rope which they looped over their dolly and then handed back for us to tie off.  Storm then signalled for me to reverse.

A plastic cruiser heading towards us both, pulled in to the side to wait until their was space to pass.  Just as we’d managed to pull the boat off the mud, another cruiser came round the bend and kept coming towards us.  We managed to get our rope back in time for me to move out of their way and I managed to warn them that there was something under the waterline so they could take avoiding action.

We carried on and at Bridge 124 the same narrowboat was aground again but they told us they had been trying to moor this time.  As they had crew ashore we left them to moor and we carried on.

Our arrival at the Hest Bank swing bridge was well-timed as an approaching canoeist took advantage of our opening and passed through after us, very grateful that he hadn’t had to porter his canoe.

We moored up just after Bridge 117 on the two day moorings there and managed to get into the side.  There was also room in front of us for Oleanna and we hoped no-one would moor up before they caught up with us.

We had a bite of lunch while we awaited their arrival.  When Oleanna arrived she struggled to get into the side without listing to port but they could moor a stride away from the bank and remain level so they decided that that would do.

Once they’d had lunch, we headed along the footpath over the railway line and down onto the beach.  The beach was stony and the tide was in; the first time we’ve not been able to see the sand.

We walked along the shore, looking for shells while Max enjoyed paddling among the rocks.  We learnt that Hest Bank used to have a railway station until the 1960’s and is also notable in that it is the most westerly point of the West Coast railway but trains now hurtle through without stopping.

After our liver and bacon casserole tonight I think we’ll be heading out to the local pub that dates from 1554.  Our guide says it once offered shelter to “abbots and monks, soldiers and highwaymen, the Duke of Devonshire and Prince Frederick of Prussia.”  As it’s now raining, I think it’ll be sheltering us too!