Today we finally made it to the northern limit of navigation at Tewitfield. It is also possible to get to Ripon in Yorkshire, a lot further east, but slightly further south. The canal terminus is right next to the M6 and is an extremely noisy place to be. We filled up with water, and recorded evidence of our arrival as this is another Silver Propellor location. I intended to photograph us after we had moved across the canal as the background is a lot more photogenic, though not distinct enough.
Before lunch we went for a walk along the towpath beyond the terminus. A little path runs under the road alongside the motorway – it looks like this could easily have been left navigable.
The locks are still very much in evidence, though the gates are absent. Each has had a concrete weir added at the point where the head gates would have been to maintain the water levels in the canal, though several feet below the design level. The curved stonework in which the head gates rotate had also been filled in with concrete. Covering expertly carved stone curves in concrete is vandalism – reversing that act will be difficult.
The reduced water levels made it possible to see some of the details of the side channels which allow the water supply to bypass the locks. These are out of use with the reduced water levels. They are maintained by volunteers from the Lancaster Canal Trust in the hope that they will one day come back in to use. A chatty local told us that he had lived here for fifty years but wasn’t optimistic it would happen in his lifetime.
We were some way up the locks when I thought I could see a boat in the pound above us. Clare was suitably incredulous when I said so. I then saw someone in the distinctive colour combination of a blue shirt and a red lifejacket – staff or volunteer with the Canal and River Trust.
As we got nearer we realised that what we were seeing was just what we’d needed on the Glasson Branch – a boat with caterpillar tracks! Maybe we can continue north after all. We later found this is a Truxor, used for cutting weeds.
I missed getting a video of the beastie climbing out of the canal, which was very impressive. I did manage to film it going in, which is amazing enough.
At the top lock a set of lock gates were on display on the path side. I checked OpenStreetMap and found that they were not marked – they are now!
After our walk, we moved away from the noisy mooring and soon found a peaceful spot where we were able to get within gangplank walking distance of the edge. After some handy rope work we managed to get both of us on the bank with mallet and mooring spikes. Just as I finished the second spike I felt a pain on my ankle – a wasp – and then realised I was in a cloud of them! A swift retreat saved me any more stings, and once they’d calmed down we were able to attach the rope. Casting off will have to be careful – and quick.
So now I have bruises on both arms from fighting with the shower hose yesterday, and a swollen ankle. My left leg is fine.