About Us

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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Marathon runners at the Gorge.

Leaving Hollands wood site and saying our farewells to the Jameison and Warren mob, it was first a stop at Lyndhurst to purchase a BBQ grill plate and tall windbreak. Pulling into the car park we noticed a coach park to our left and thought, "This will do nicely". Just about to reverse into a coach spot and a lady appears saying the traffic wardens are red hot on illegal parking and come around frequently to check the vehicles. So directing us to a spot at the furthest point of the car park we found somewhere to leave the Beast. Of course, being so long meant we took almost two parking bays but Ian manoeuvered the Beast so the wheels were in the white lines, I then took a photo with time and date just in case the warden wanted to get nasty to prove we were still in the one parking bay.


So on our return and with no parking ticket on the windscreen, we headed off towards Cheddar Gorge.

Last year and for our first outing with the Beast, we arrived in December and the cold. Then we had the place to ourselves. Today the place was heaving.  We managed to find a Brit Stop for the night at the Gardeners Arms, partook of liquid refreshment (Brit Stops are free but it is common courtesy to frequent the premises for either a drink or meal) Then it was off to do Jacobs Ladder and the two-hour walk around the top.


Wow, I'm not sure what I expected. Up the 274 steps of Jacobs ladder, a level walk of 3 miles along the top and then a gentle descent back to the gorge. How wrong I was!!! The ladder climb was everything I thought it would be...knackering. At the top was a lookout tower, closed for refurbishment. So off we set along the path which got steeper and steeper the further along we walked. In fact, I reckon a good mile was a constant climb mostly of uneven ground strewn with boulders but I must say the views when we eventually arrived at the top was staggeringly beautiful.












Then the descent to the road, roughly another mile where we had to cross over and walk up the other side. Oh but that path on the way down....horrendous... just very slippery stones and full of biting horse flies! Reaching the road and my legs were shaking with the effort and very thankful for Ian's helping hand. Onwards and upwards again where we met several marathon and half marathon runners. In this heat, they must be mad! Anyway after 3 hours  (not the two suggested in the leaflet), we finally made it back to the Beast completley exhausted and realising just how unfit we are.





All to do with the marathon

 So here are a few of the wildlife spotted along the walk


juvenile Robin

Large black beetle

Not having my bird book I'm not sure what this is.

Meadow Brown


Light Emerald moth

Ground bee

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Targeted by beatles

Such a lazy start to the day with not one of our party wanting to commit to anything. So instead breakfast took over the morning but by 11.30am Ian decided on another bike ride. This time to find Beaulieu airfield near Brockenhurst. So off we goes with Ian saying "I know the way, I have an app on the phone". Across a field full of ponies and cattle, over molehills, ruts and gorse bushes until we eventually arrive at a gate, which I might add was locked!!!!. "Tell you what" says he. "Through the forest and follow this path". "My trail finder app is showing me the way." Well.....talk about an obstacle course! Ducking under low branches, bouncing over tree roots and negotiating ditches wasn't my idea of knowing the way but hey ho, he did get us onto a path of sorts at the end.




 Then we headed off in the wrong direction completely! So much for his fancy trail finder app! And when the battery on the phone died...well what more could I say!. Anyway, luckily we had a cycle map with us given by Sheila and with a positive direction given by a passing cyclist, we eventually found our way to Brockenhurst.

Had a short road journey to do again but this time along a quiet lane and turning right to go through another campsite, we came across a road pony block.

All the ponies wanted was the shade.
Lunch at the airfield consisted of 8 shortbread biscuits.
 The airfield is vast but what was beneficial to cyclists are numbered posts with directions. Very easy to get around and we were directed to the model plane flying club. It was here we discovered the downside of riding in yellow high viz jackets. The colour attracted hundreds of small Beatles.





Ian was not amused and took the jacket off pretty quick stuffing it in my backpack. I'm made of sterner stuff and kept mine on. A small plane was being flown which entertained us for a while but a notice board explaining all about the airfield was more gripping.








The journey back to our campsite went a lot quicker on our return and we were amazed to find we had been away for over 4 hours. Also both our derriere's certainly knew about the journey. A purchase of a saddle suspension we think are a must have and as soon as possible.

And seen on the airfield, 



Friday, 22 June 2018

Opps not the best start to the bike ride.

Another day dawned sunny and warm, a good day for our first bike outing. Breakfast was eaten outside in the sun and then two interlopers arrived for a share. A Squirrel and Chaffinch hoping for a crumb or two.





Then into the camp wandered a mare and foal. Wonderful we thought until the foal decided the chairs, awning, straps etc was something it wanted to explore. It seemed to be attracted to Alan for some reason and in the end only waving his arms at it would it move.











By 11 am Ian, Chris, Sheila and yours truly were ready for the 4-mile ride to Lyndhurst. "Mostly cycle tracks on the flat" stated Chris. So with a wobble and some trepidation, I set off.

Sheila led, followed by me, next Chris and Ian bringing up the rear. Well, I don't know what Chris thinks is  'on the flat' means but I found myself walking up the first very steep hill. Sheila and Chris rode up but then they would having electric bikes!!!. Ian passed me being determined to prove he was fit enough to peddle up the hill. Eventually, and breathing hard, I caught them up. Next hurdle was a section that had deep dried ruts from when the track was awash with mud. In my wobbly state, I had not a chance in hell of staying along a very narrow flat section and consequently made a sideways exit into a ditch! So there I was, down in this ditch, bike on top of me, giggling at my predicament and unable to get up. Along comes the cavalry in the form of Chris and Ian and with a mighty effort on their part, managed to get me out. No damage to the bike or myself (other than a huge bruise on my thigh where the handlebars dug into my leg) and thankfully from that point the path evened out and I could once more set off.

Just before reaching Lyndhurst a short section of road had to be cycled. Now, this got me quaking and thoughts of falling in front of a vehicle came to mind. Again Sheila went in front and when a suitable break in traffic appeared, she set off. Not many yards along the road and next we see is Sheila heading for the curb, peddle makes contact and Sheila falling sideways into the hedge! Luckily still no cars appeared so after picking herself up, finding a place away from the road to reattach the chain which had come off, we all made the short journey into Lyndhurst.

Having spent an hour enjoying the place and having lunch, the return journey was relatively stressed free. I'm not walking bow-legged and nor is Ian and we are both feeling more confident about cycling in Ireland. After all....surely one fall is enough to make a cyclist....or is it? 

Obviously, no photos of the two tumbles but a few of the bike ride.

Me after the fall and back on decent track.

Sheila on gate duty

Chris on the electric bike with Ian bringing up the rear.


 
Of course, to celebrate our safe return the Prosecco came out followed by a BBQ. We spent the rest of the evening playing a round robin game of Cribbage.




No plans yet for the morrow. That to be decided.

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