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The Lancaster Canal and Millenium Ribble Link
Cruising Log part 4

Lancaster canal II - Tewitfield and the Northern Reaches, Carnforth, Lancaster, Galgate, Garstang, Bilsborrow and Preston

Friday 17 June
Carnforth to Tewitfield

From Carnforth it is just 4 miles to the terminus at Tewitfield where we nudged the grating at the Northern point in the connected canal system with Corinna's bow. There is a useful sanitary block and we filled up with water and emptied our rubbish.Mooring was not easy because the edge is shallow but there are good moorings for two boats and a picnic site by bridge 138.

Then we set off to walk up the 8 disused Tewitfield Locks. They raise the canal by 75 feet and the lock chambers are in excellent condition, although there are no gates and only the remains of the paddle gear. Hopefully they will be easy to restore, although above the locks there is a culvert under the M6.

We completed our walk by lunchtime and went back to the Longlands Hotel. We noticed there was a special menu in June, and during the week there was 2-for-1 off the fixed price dinner menu. On Friday it was different, and 2 people got a free bottle of house wine. For the special offer you have to eat early, and so we booked for 18.30. The food was good and there was a wide choice of "free" house wine, including a 1997 Cabernet-Sauvignon Malbec from Leasingham in the Clare Valley of Australia. It was a bin-end normally in the 15-20 pound class they said they could not sell because it had a sediment - we liked it so much we purchased a second bottle. The Longlands Hotel served good food and wine, and was very good value and we would recommend it.

Saturday 18 June
Tewitfield to Capernwray Arm to Lancaster, finally mooring just past Bridge 90

It was 4.5 hours from Tewitfield to Lancaster, which included a short stop in the Capernwray Arm, a delightful picnic spot for just three or four boats. We passed the Waterbus moored at the Lune Aqueduct on the edge of Lancaster. There was plenty of mooring outside The Waterwitch, so our priority was to have lunch there again. Then we set off to see some of the historic sights of Lancaster. We had seen Lancaster Castle from the canal and the footpath to the River Lune passed along the side of the Castle and then gave us the chance to catch a quick look inside the Priory Church of Saint Mary. The first church on the site was built in 1094, and the present building was constructed in the 15th century.

We were aiming for St George's Quay and the Maritime Museum and spent an interesting hour learning about the maritime history of the area. Part of the Museum occupies the former Customs House, built in 1764 and restored in the 1980s. The ground floor concentrates on the local fishing industry, particularly shrimping, cockling and musselling. The first floor displays concentrate on the port's 18th century prosperity, and the goods traded. Other displays are on the top floor of the neighbouring warehouse, reached by lift. They have an interesting reconstruction of a packet boat.

Being Saturday we didn't want to moor overnight outside the Waterwitch, so we continued to a picnic spot, complete with picnic table, just beyond Bridge 90. It was very hot and sunny and we took the opportunity to erect our new gazebo, which fitted perfectly over the picnic table.

Sunday 19 June
Bridge 90 to Galgate Marina

This must be our shortest day ever. It was just over a mile to the water point at BW Galgate Marina, and we were able to have showers and do pumpouts there too. After an hour the three boats moved across the canal to the visitor moorings, and then everyone walked down the towpath towards Glasson Basin. We had agreed to meet for lunch with other friends who have David Piper boats at Thurnham Mill Hotel. Then we all walked on down to the Port of Lancaster Smokehouse, and went shopping. The cold items were brought back by car, leaving those who wanted to walk back without the burden of bags of food. It all worked very well, and we just got back to the boats when it began to pour with rain (again).

That evening we were hoping to watch the American Grand Prix on the TV but there were problems with Michelin tyres and only 6 cars actually took part. So it was a very disappointing race. We had kippers and other fish from the smokehouse for tea.

Monday 20 June
Galgate to Garstang and onwards to Bridge 56

Leaving Galgate we met the owners of Water Babies hireboats. They have 3 new Simon Piper boats called Monday's, Tuesday's and Thursday's Child, which look very nice and were being turned around at Bridge 78. We stopped at Garstang for shopping and then continued to our mooring spot by Bridge 56.

Tuesday 21 June
Bridge 56 to Bilsborrow, then to Salwick and back to Aqueduct 38

We were meeting a friend who was driving to Bilsborrow, and then cruised with him to the "Hand and Dagger" for lunch before winding and returning to a pleasant mooring at Aqueduct 38. It was perfect to set up tables and the BBQ on the towpath, and the weather was good. At the end of the evening we were going to run down to the car park at Bilsborrow but managed to catch something around the propeller, so turned early, at the winding hole by Bridge 41. There was no problem and we returned to the mooring at Aqueduct 38.

Wednesday 22 June
Aqueduct 38 to Preston and back to the winding hole by Bridge 23

There was an urgent need to buy Gas as the barbeque cylinder was empty, so the group left at 08.30 to get to Moon Bridge boatyard when they opened. Although it was too early and the shop was not open, they did kindly exchange a gas cylinder. We continued past the entry to the Ribble Link and onwards to Preston. There is a hire boat base at Ashton Basin, Arlen Hire Boats, and they have the baby Piper boats, as well as a wide beam Simon Piper boat for their own use. We went across to say "Hello" and find out whether they had brass plaques of the canal or the Link generally. They were very helpful and rang Preston Marina to see if there were any in stock, and then explained how to get to the Marina Office on foot. There was some muttering that the Ribble Link is not wide enough for their own boat to get across to the rest of the system. It was a long walk along the length of Preston Dock to reach the Marina Office at the far end, but it was a nice day and no problem. One noticeable feature of the Dock was the blue-green algae which looked like a tin of fluorescent green paint has been poured on the water. There were a number of narrowboats already in the Dock, ready for the Festival which was due to start the next weekend. We obtained our brass plaques, and a few other items, before detouring to Morisson's supermarket nearby.

The moorings at Preston terminus are not very good and we all wanted to be somewhere else overnight. So we retraced our steps and eventually moored by Bridge 23 with a nice view of countryside. We found another narrowboat there who was also going down the Link the following morning. This was good news because from our journey up the Link we knew that it was best to do the locks with pairs of boats. There was supposed to be a fifth boat going down, which was moored at Ashton Basin.

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