Since we crossed the Ribble Link, we have had a vague feeling of being on an island. We know perfectly well that we are on mainland Britain, but the feeling of being separated from the main network is palpable. This was further reinforced by the totally different lock equipment, and almost every boat we meet is a GRP (glass reinforced plastic) cruiser. They are much shorter and nippier than us, and can get much closer to the edges of the canal without grounding.
Yesterday’s trip up the Glasson Branch was slow going. Just before hitting on the idea of trying to punt our way out of trouble, I was feeling almost claustrophobic. I was on a boat on my own in the middle of a canal with reeds both sides and couldn’t move forward. My imagination was running ahead to missing our appointment to return over the Ribble.
Today we made much better progress. We arrived in Carnforth in time for lunch, but before we could moor the propellor fouled again. We got ourselves to the bank and moored up where we were. We’re getting better at the weed hatch now. It didn’t take long to identify the very prickly forked stick that was the cause of the problem – and then reward ourselves with lunch.
We waved Heather off at the station – it’s been great having her company for the last few days. We then did a little shopping in Carnforth. An amazing hardware store provided us with a number of things including a hacksaw blade with a handle. Now we can attack the stuff wrapped around the propellor with a blade! We’ve also found a regional supermarket that sells several different Fairtrade instant coffees, both with and without caffeine.
We’ve not quite reached the navigable limit of the canal yet, but we are pretty close – this is about as close to Scotland as we can get without putting Bartimaeus on a lorry. In the coming days we’ll explore the canal and the immediate area, so our boat mileage will drop – but our cycle mileage may go up.