13 June. 440 yards
Today the intention was to go to Preston so we could take a train to Blackpool tomorrow. We moved to fill up with water and talked to a local boater that said a bus went from Garstang to Blackpool. Easy decision as it would be better to end the day at Garstang rather than Preston. So what do we think of Blackpool? Been there done that and don't need to go back. It was an over the top party town with flashy lights and not that attractive arcades etc. There were some lovely buildings amongst the tacky ones but generally felt that Blackpool had no pride in itself.
14 June 16 ½ miles
Spent the day cruising through the countryside to Preston. Once we settled in I rang Jim, who had made our acquaintance when last we were here and lent us a book on the Lancaster canal for our journey. We were invited around and had a delightful evening with Jim and Anne in their home. This is the bit we really enjoy. Meeting and getting to know the locals.
15 June 0 miles
Went into Preston to check out the Harris Museum, Unfortunately closed on Sunday but we did get to go into the beautiful building which was also the library which was open. I needed to get a document printed off so am now a member of the Lancaster Library. Walked to Preston dock for a look around and a coffee. Saw a steam train on a tourist run. Before back to the boat
16 June. 1 ½ miles.
Yesterday we spotted a big supermarket by the docks. Just 20 minutes away, so we stocked up this morning. Set off, filled with water and moored up in the basin ready to head down the Ribble in the morning. A fellow boater made himself known and came over for a cuppa to while away the evening. We have been told, in the local vernacular, this is called having a crack.
17 June. 14 miles, 10 locks (4 operated by CRT staff)
Going down the link as far as Savick Brook is like being on a canal, then they drop you into the river which is not flowing because it is held back by the sea lock which is closed. Just before the sea lock we wait for an hour or so, waiting for the tide to come in to give us sufficient water to go out onto the River Ribble. Green light, sea lock open and off we go 4 narrow and 1 wide beam. We are first on the river but not long before the wide beam is the only one behind then he drops back, we look back and all seems normal. He drops further behind and I check through the binoculars and all looks normal. Next I see him throwing the anchor out which brings back memories of sitting on the Severn river in 2010 with our anchor out being rescued by a wide beam of similar colour. A quick call to the lock keeper to see if we have time to go back, we have, so around we go keeping clear of the mud banks. We arrive at the wide beam and by then he is arranging a tow with a life boat. No way we could take him anywhere. He is now organised so back down the river and checking with the lock keeper that we have time to make it. Arrive at the Tarleton lock with plenty of time to spare. Now back on the main system and heading for Liverpool. Spend the night opposite Rufford hall where we had visited 3 weeks ago.
18 June, 7 ½ miles, 7 locks, 4 swing bridges.
Soon after leaving Rufford we pair up with a couple of English gentlemen, who had crossed with us yesterday, and travelled through the 7 locks to Burscough where they stopped for lunch and we turned right towards Liverpool. A pleasant, fine,hot day ended with us mooring up at Halsall. A short time later the two English gentlemen decide to join us. We enjoyed a pub meal together.
Swing bridges. Not Diana's favourite job and today didn't help. Arrive at an electronic bridge, puts in key but can't read the instructions because of the bright sunlight. Stops the traffic, nothing happens, then a voice from the pub alongside gives instructions and eventually we are through and traffic flowing again. 300 yards further on another bridge, different design. Electrically swung but manually stop the traffic. Luckily there is CRT staff near by who come and assist. I'm through and the bridge closed, then, confrontation on the bridge. 1 Large tractor with big trailer in middle of bridge facing one very small car with stubborn driver. I watch from a distance as eventually the tractor backs off the bridge and “normality” returns.
19 June, 9 miles, 7 swing bridges.
Last night I was feeding a Coot. He would take two bits a bread and set off about 100 yds to his nest and then return for some more several times. This morning when I get up he is waiting at the door with mum and the kids. We feed them and then another family of Coots and a family of ducks arrive. All hell breaks loose as the Coot from last night makes it very plain that we are feeding his family and the rest are not welcome.
Set off towards Liverpool through open country which is mostly in market gardens and the outskirts of suburban Liverpool. Swing bridges again the feature of Diana's day. No angry drivers but all were different. At one they were making repairs so we stopped for ½ an hour and then the workers opened it for us. On two occasions we opened it for other boats. The last one was being kept open as we passed 9 boats that had come out of Liverpool together. Now we are moored up at the last of the swing bridges, beside Aintree Race course. This one is locked as it can be a busy road and the CRT staff open it tomorrow to let us through to complete the trip.