Yesterday dawned a lot brighter and drier than the day before and we were up and ready to get going on our Ribble adventure. BUT hold on a bit, we have to wait for the tide so time to get some baking done, sausage rolls for lunch, and a cake for, well, whenever we fancy. And we’re expecting an extra crew member for the day, we must wait for him.
Soon after 10 o’clock Jim, from nb Starcross, whom we met last year on the BCN challenge, had asked to join us on our voyage on the Millennium Ribble Link. The Link joins the Lancaster Canal to the rest of the inland waterway system. Jim has beaten me to the blog and has already written a lovely report of our journey, so do take a look at it here.
We were going out on to the River Douglas with 3 other boats, that’s two lockfuls, and we were in the queue waiting at 11.40 as instructed, soon Harry the resident lock-keeper and his helper were opening paddles, then gates, then the swing-bridge ready for us to go in.
nb Basil III, who we locked down with.
The un-nerving realisation of how fast the river was flowing dawned on Jim and I standing at the front of Tacet, hope Ian is ready for that.
And we were off, Basil was swept over close to the bank, but with the engine working hard soon got back to mid-river and we followed on behind. The Douglas is narrow, making the tidal flow more fierce and took full revs on the engine to keep us moving forward.
Passing Shepards Boatyard
The river widens
Look out for the perches, marking the miles, and most importanly, Astland Lamp. At the point where the Rivers Ribble and Douglas converge, the Astland lamp marks the point we must turn round, although the water here is very wide there’s no cutting across as you risk running aground.
Nb Basil safely round, then it was our turn.
And now we’re heading towards Preston, straight ahead is the Preston Marina, but we’re not going there……
We’re looking out for the green light showing the entrance to Savick Brook and the Ribble Link.
Nb Basil takes the turn,
And we follow on being sure to give a wide turn and avoid the sand bank at the mouth of the Brook, and there’s the sea lock ready to go through.
Once through the sea lock we had to wait on a pontoon, for the water level to drop enough to get under the Blackpool Road Bridge. Here the cruiser who came out of Tarleton lock behind us caught us up, but unfortunately the narrowboat that came out with them, had had engine trouble and had to be rescued and taken back to Tarleton.
Savick Brook is narrow and shallow, but soon we came to first of the locks built to make the ‘Link’.
There are 5 locks, worked for us today by the C&RT men, we just had to hold the ropes!
Then comes the interesting bit. The last bit of the Link takes us on a sharp turn off the Brook and up a staircase of 3 locks to join the Lancaster Canal. Because there is not enough room to turn, we had to enter the bottom lock in reverse and work up the flight backwards.
People gathered to watch with interest, some saying they had not seen boats coming through the locks before.
We were soon at the top and took the turn to Preston, making slow progress along the shallow cut, to the end of the navigation where we moored for the night.
Jim left us to find a bus to take him home, it was good to have his company, hope you enjoyed the trip Jim.
A little later we were treated to a wonderful sight, full of promise……
11.5 miles, 10 locks