Saturday, 10 June 2017

The Ribble link


IMG_4213We pulled ropes through rings at 08.20 and headed the short distance to the lock that would lower us down onto The river Douglas . We had our instructions from Harry who is the lockkeeper and he told us that as it was a 9 meter tide and we would have to leave the lock on full throttle to make any head way against the current. We only have so much time to get across to Savick brook before the tide goes out . If we don’t make it in time we will be diverted in to Preston dock where will have to stay overnight. There are 4 boats going over today and we are one of the first 2 to go. The other 2 will follow us as soon as we are out of the lock and it has been refilled for them.

This link was first opened in 2002 and it joins The Lancaster canal to the rest of the UK inland navigable waterways .The Millennium Ribble Link as it’s known was built to celebrate the Millennium (the year 2000), and cost £6.54 million, of which just over £3 million was a grant from the Millennium Commission. The remaining £3.54 million was mainly from public funds. Before this link was built it would have been a sea journey around to Glasson and then up the 6 locks on the Glasson arm and then onto The Lancaster canal. Or stick your boat on a lorry and bring it over by road.

Now then here we go !!!!

IMG_4216As soon as the lock gates opened I just gave it everything we had and hit the river Douglas.

IMG_4222At full throttle and with a massive bow wave we didn’t seem to be making very much headway . Carolyn was a bit put off when a couple of large trees/logs and even a dead Sheep went bombing by us. I must admit I didn’t expect the current to be as strong as this.

IMG_4227After about a mile the river opened out and we started picking up speed .The idea is that we are on an incoming tide to the Ribble and then it changes to an out going tide . So it means we are always against the tide.

IMG_4218Even so we were still doing nearly 2,0000 revs when our normal cruising revs are about 1250 . We had been told by Canal and River Trust that we had to have a full water tank before making the crossing just in case we over heated. If that happened we could draw off the hot water from our hot water tank and that would allow cold water to circulate the engine and cool it down.

IMG_4242As we get to the end of the Douglas it gets even wider and ahead is the River Ribble and to the left is The Irish Sea.

IMG_4248As always in the end it wasn’t as bad as Carolyn thought it was going to be and she soon started to chill out and enjoy the journey.

IMG_4245As we join The River Ribble we have to go around The Asland lamp/five mile perch marker and we have been told to give it a very wide berth as there are under water obstructions near it.

IMG_4247The ribble is one big wide river and we soon picked up bit more speed as we head towards Preston.

IMG_4256Looking back at The Irish Sea .

IMG_4267After a good trip up The Ribble we get to the entrance of Savick Brook and we have to phone Canal and River Trust and ask if we can come in to the brook

IMG_4271With permission granted to enter we swing a left/Port and head in.

IMG_4274We then approach the rotating sea lock . This lock closes once all four boats are on the pontoon which is just around the corner from here . The idea of this is to keep the tidal water in the creek to give us time to get up to the first lock .It has taken us 1 hour and 29 minutes to get here which they said was very good going.

IMG_4287We moored up on the pontoon and then had to wait over 45 minutes for the last boat to arrive. The boat had a traditional engine and struggled a bit with the current . The Lockie said that if he had been another 2 or 3 minutes they would have closed the sea lock and sent him to Preston .

IMG_4297With the sea lock now closed we started heading up Savick brook ,but as you can see because of the delay in shutting the sea lock the level has fallen in the brook by over a metre.

IMG_4302When they say it’s a brook that is exactly what it is and a narrow one at that ,although you can get a 10 feet 6 inch widebeam up here . We caught the bottom and the sides on the mud several times on our way up.

IMG_4304It then gets narrower and shallower the further you go up.

IMG_4306Eventually we made it to the first of the five locks before the staircase of three locks which will eventually join us up to The Lancaster canal. You don’t even have to work the locks as that’s all done for you by CRT . But of course Carolyn couldn’t just sit back and do nothing so she helped as well.

IMG_4314Yet another first for us . At the staircase locks there is not enough room for us to turn around , so we have to reverse in to the bottom lock and then go up the staircase backwards .

IMG_4324The locks are deep and there is a lot of turbulence when the paddles are opened so we have to rope off around steel wires which run up the locks with Carolyn on the bow and me at the stern

IMG_4330I had to keep well clear of this top gate and keep our back doors closed or else we would have got rather wet.

IMG_4335This sculpture which is at the top lock was made by Derbyshire artist Denis O’Connor. It relpaces one of an Oak man that was known as the Ribble Piddler as it started to rot.

IMG_4337Eventually at the top and we reverse out out of the staircase locks . The whole journey has taken 5 hours and it was a brilliant experience with even Carolyn enjoying it . I would highly recommend it to anyone and take no notice of any stupid scare stories you here about it. Just remember that if the weather is bad or anything else is not right Canal and River Trust will not let you go.    Go on book up and do it !

IMG_4343We then picked up this mooring about a mile outside of Preston and chilled out with a glass of three of red wine .Just the ticket. Now we can explore the 43 lock free miles of The Lancaster canal .

                                                                                                        Very Happy Days


  1. We did the Ribble in 2008 and loved every minute. Lancaster canal was a joy to cruise but watch out for the plastics. At weekends they hog all the best spots so get moored up early.

  2. Hi Ian and Irene , It was a great crossing and so far enjoying the Lancaster , will look out for the plastics . So far seen a few speeding ones that don't seem to want to slow down when passing . Should be fun .