First Timers on the Lancaster Canal

First timers Chris & Jacqueline, with their two sons, took Poppy out in April 2017. Their first time on a Canal Boat. This is their blog about the trip.


by Chris

Day 1

Myself, my wife Jacqueline and youngest son Charlie met Sylvia at Barton Grange Marina this morning and were introduced to Poppy, our floating home for the next few days. Eldest son Chris Jnr was motoring up from Crewe, stuck on the M6.

After picking up some essentials from the nearby Barton Grange Garden Centre Farm Shop (quite expensive!), Sylvia provided a trolley for us to move our gear from the secure Marina car park to Poppy. Next time we will first visit an Aldi first and pick up some bits.

Poppy is amazing, beautifully laid out and luxuriously equipped. Bags of storage space, 2 double beds, central heating, gas oven and hob, a fridge, 2 TVs with DVD players, 240V sockets and even a shower and a flushing loo!

After explaining all the bits inside Poppy, we were took out onto the Canal for a training session. Easier than I thought to sail the boat – the trick is to do everything slowly! We were shown how to sail, moor safely, cast off and turn the boat.

Back at the Marina, Chris Jnr had finally arrived. As instructed, he had brought some Rum.

On Friday afternoon we set off North from the Marina heading towards Garstang. Even at 2-3mph this did not seem to take long. We managed some photos along the way, including one of a swan building a giant nest, another of a Heron in flight and a belter of a grey squirrel balancing on a branch to take a drink from the canal.

We passed bridge 60 at Garstang and moored up opposite the enticing looking Tithe Barn. There’s a technique to successful mooring – you approach the bank dead slow and then have someone step onto the bank with the centre rope to gently pull the boat in. We made the short walk into Garstang town centre in search of fish and chips. At £40 for 4 of us this was not cheap, but the food and service was excellent. A bit of shopping was then done in Booths.

We ventured into The Tithe Barn for a couple before settling back on Poppy for our first night aboard. Here the TV reception was perfect, as was the mobile internet connection.

The beds were really comfortable, one of the best night’s sleep for a long time.



Day 2

From 10am we chugged gently from Garstang Marina towards Lancaster in beautiful weather amidst stunning scenery. Whilst no. 1 son Chris Jnr and I did the navigating, full breakfasts were being cooked in the lovely kitchen.

The supplied Canal Guidebook is a must to refer to, it shows you the bridges as you go. As these are all numbered you have a good chance of not overshooting your destination. There are turning points but if you miss one it can be a long chug before you can come back.

Poppy is one of the most attractive Narrowboats on the canal, we did not spot any quite as nice – apart from her little sister Daisy who we passed a couple of times.

Approaching Lancaster we intended to moor at The Water Witch pub but overshot – despite there being two huge basins (turning points) adjacent. There were a couple of mooring spaces left but we were not confident enough yet to attempt to squeeze in so kept going.

We ended up going over the incredible Lune Aqueduct before we could turn around! Worth it though for the photo and video opportunities.

We planned mooring up in Lancaster again but managed to overshoot once more. Checking the map for turning points we decided to carry on to Galgate and come back up to Lancaster again the next day. Anyway, we thought a city centre might be too rowdy for a good night’s sleep.

We safely moored up in Galgate close to the Marina and the Plough pub and set off in search of food. The Plough was a bit busy with a rugby coach trip so we settled for some nibbles from a Spar and a takeaway chippy.

Back on Poppy at Galgate Marina the TV reception was shaky and the internet connection was poor. Luckily, several DVD’s were in one of the cupboards.



Day 3

We set off at 9-ish to chug back up to Lancaster. By this time we were expert navigators and managed to moor successfully at The Water Witch without embarassing ourselves in front of the early imbibers.

A short walk was made to Lancaster Castle to partake in the castle tour (well worth doing) followed by a visit to the Museum. Us boys then had to suffer a tour of some of Lancaster’s retail establishments before thankfully arriving back at The Water Witch for a well-earned Gin & Tonic.

The Gin of course was for medicinal purposes in order to steady our nerves for the long chug back to Garstang. The 10 year old was adamant that he was not going to stay the night in Galgate again due to the non-existent internet connection. Apparently this would have interfered with his attempts to catch Pokemon.

We debated whether or not to dine at The Old Tithe Barn but ended up cooking dinner on the boat as we were all tired.



Overall

What a fantastic break this was!! We have seen the canal as we have never seen it before and had several wonderful days visiting pubs without a care in the world. Definitely an experience not to be missed.