Saturday 9 September

The alarm clock was set for 7.30 this morning so we had time to have breakfast and make sure we had everything ready and done all our checks for 9am when the CRT were scheduled to turn up and confirm whether today’s crossing was going to be possible.

There had been heavy rain overnight and a couple of early morning downpours but the skies overhead appeared to be brightening and the forecast for the rest of the morning and early afternoon looked promising.

The CRT guys turned up and announced that the crossing would have to be cancelled today as there was too much water in the brook.  They’d also checked with Harry, the river expert back at Tarleton, and he was concerned about the likelihood of strong winds later in the afternoon.

Savick Brook feeds the Ribble Link and starts way up in the Pennines so after heavy rain the brook floods rendering The Link impassable as the flow is too strong and there is insufficient headroom under bridges.

We knew that the Ribble Link wasn’t going to be straight forward as we’d heard different tales from people who’d made the crossing before.  There are so many conditions to satisfy before a crossing can take place.   We must have hit it lucky last month when crossed at our first attempt.

Anyway, with our plans for today dashed, we asked if any boaters would like a paper and we headed off to the local newsagents with orders for three.   Our walk took us alongside Savick Brook and the water going over the weir was roaring – a sound we’d not heard when we came up the brook last month!   It’s reassuring to know that CRT aren’t willing to take unnecessary risks with us.

In the afternoon we visited the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in the centre of Preston.  From the towpath we walked through Haslam Park to find a bus on Blackpool Road.  This was an under used space with only a few walkers and cyclists enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

As it is Heritage Weekend, we were able to visit the Egyptian Balcony on the third floor of the museum.   This is usually closed to the public.   We joined the queue on the second floor to climb the stairs.  Only a dozen people are allowed up there at a time and we were greeted at the top by a volunteer who was keen to  tell us something about the gallery.   The walls appeared to be covered in murals but were in fact paintings on canvas.  John Somerscales, had been commissioned to visit the pyramids and tombs of Egypt just before the outbreak of WW1 and return to create a number of landscape paintings and illustrations that would be hung in the gallery.

The only criticism we had was  that there was no information about the scenes and we were advised that  we could book on one of the guided tours held at other times.   We recognised the pyramids though as we visited Egypt ourselves in 2005.   The painting doesn’t include the sprawl of Cairo  nor the tourist facilities that would be visible now.  A lot has changed in a hundred years.

Looking down through the building to the cafe below

After we’d walked round the upper balcony and admired the view from the top we returned to the second floor and toured the art gallery that contains fine art from the 18th and 19th centuries and includes works by Dame Laura Knight, Bridget Riley, Magritte and many others.

The building has an impressive central lantern and we headed to the cafe where we could sit and gaze upwards to the glass roof.  Our waitress came to take our order and we had just enough time to order two teas, one decaf and a coffee and before we could draw breath she’d scuttled off and missed our order for four cakes.   She reminded us of Mrs Overall from Acorn Antiques.   Never mind, she saved our waistlines.

We caught a little bus back to the boat which dropped us off beside Savick Brook.  By now the water had gone down quite a bit and the weir was much quieter.  Fingers crossed for tomorrow.


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