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!