Friday 15 July 2022

Tarleton and Back

Today's Canal - Rufford Arm

Yes, that's right - we went for a morning cruise today! At some point we would have to do this trip in order to turn around and return to the marina at Rufford. From this weekend the forecast is for blistering heat so we took the opportunity today to enjoy milder weather. Actually, we had expected some rain this morning but it stayed away and instead we had some pleasant breaks in the otherwise dull overcast sky.

We set off around half past ten, passing immediately under Spark Bridge. Out mooring was between the bridge and the first boat on the left and we hoped that it would still be available on our return as this is convenient for both services and car. There is space on this (nearer to the camera) side but the piling is much less comfortable for getting on an off the boat.

Quite soon we reached the next swing bridge which we found remarkably easy to operate. If only they could all be like this - perhaps the local team need to give lessons to other regions on what they should expect to achieve! The only problem today was that the wind had sprung up and insisted on pushing the boat to the bank whilst waiting for the bridge to open or close.

Even though we have recently had quite a lot of cloud cover, these have still been excellent growing conditions - such as for this large bank of lilies which are gradually invading the navigation. This is the time when they also display their flowers!

Strand Bridge is alongside the former Sollom Lock and we will try to get a photo of that on the way back.

From this point down to the lock at Tarleton we are on the former river River Douglas and the difference was quite apparent.

This was the first large bank of flowering Himalayam Balsam that we have spotted this year - yet another invasive species although not quite as difficult as some but it does need to be controlled. Anyone for a bash?

This is as far as we can go today as there is no winding capability at the lock - just before the swing bridge by the mooring where boats waiting to cross the Ribble Link are asked to wait overnight. Although marked on our maps, this winding hole was very tight but we do have to remember that the canal was originally built for the shorter boats of the time. We probably tackled it the wrong way around - that is we pushed the bow to the left but the large lump of vegetation and the map marking led us to expect more of an indentation in the bank that side. Jannock, still moored next to us (and see blog on the list to the right of this page) turned at an earlier spot which is only on some listings. It probably would have been a bit easier but, in any case, we wanted to stretch out our cruise as far as possible!

The return trip was - surprisingly - unsurprising! However, we did promise you a picture of Sollom Lock from the opposite direction - the bridge is at the far end.

This was the point at which the branch joined the river when it was first constructed. We have not see a reason for this, but not a lot later Tarleton Lock was created (perhaps to enable the constriction of wharves and boatyards in the village itself?) The gates at Sollom were removed but the lock itself remains largely intact even after over two centuries, a tribute to the enduring work of the stone masons.

And yes, our mooring was still vacant on our return, almost exactly two hours after leaving. After lunch we popped into Burscough for a top up of our larder and ingredients for tonight's meal: tinned mackerel fillet fish cakes with a watercress mayo dressing and potato wedges!

Before the meal was ready Christine went for a walk along the towpath, almost to the swing bridge we passed through earlier.

5.8 Miles - 0 Locks

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