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, 22 July 2018

BBQ on top of the world.

 Wednesday 18th July

It was a cycle ride for us this morning, after those elusive Red Squirrels. 5km through Pine forests with many a steep hill which, I might add,  walked up as I also did on the steeper descents. Not brave enough to just let the bike run! Part way along and a notice board pointing uphill to a lookout point. Well, we had to go see and then promptly wished we hadn't made the effort as the trees had all but blocked the view.


And what of those Red Squirrels? We were so close to a pair at one point. They were chattering away to each other but the foliage was to dense for us to see.

Leaving this lovely lakeside spot, we travelled but 12 km to a National Trust property called Florence Court. As members the house was free and a very informative guide showed us around the upstairs and downstairs(servants quarters. No photography allowed inside but I have put a link here if you fancy a look.




Water driven sawmills


As we were still in the Enniskillen area the 'park for the night' app showed another viewpoint where we could stay. Deciding on that one rather than return to our previous stop by the lake, we were completely blown away by what lay in front of us. Navar forest lookout...what an amazing place.






A camera selfie.



Sunset


Can any other stopover compete with this??? Three weeks left and we shall see.


Saturday, 21 July 2018

A very impressive cave system

Tuesday 17th July

Another Cave on the cards today and one which was much nearer to Northern Ireland. Marble Arch Cave in County Fermanagh. And what a cave. A voucher in a leaflet we found at an information centre was for a two for one deal with the total cost being €6.75 and boy was it worth every penny. We would gladly have paid more, such was the impressiveness of the caverns. First a short boat trip following the underground river then a walk of about a kilometre which was full of wonderful stalactites and mites.




Boat trip










Many years ago a group of lads thought it would be fun to throw rocks at this stalactite. One aim was accurate and took the end clean off. It was found later and stuck back on with a special substance like super glue. That's the dark circular mark that can be seen.
 Once we left the caves it was back to trying to sort out another aerial. Trying to source a one was like trying to pull Hen's teeth! The nearest town to us was Enniskillen which happened to be in Northern Ireland. And yes....the return of our data allowance meant a frenzied search online. Nothing came up so as we stopped to ask some of the locals if a Chandlers or motorhome spares place was in the area, Unfortunately, we got the thumbs down.

Back to searching the web and eBay. A seller in the UK with just the aerial we wanted was found and was also willing to send to Northern Ireland as a click and collect from Argos. Looks like we may be staying in the area for a few days.

Another super night stop right by a lake in the Ely Lodge Forest. Red Squirrels have been sighted here so tomorrow we go on the lookout.


Friday, 20 July 2018

Only in Ireland!!! And an argument with a low branch.

Monday 16th July


No rain fell during the night and not a sound heard from the cemetery.  Fully expected to see the water over the grass as the tide was almost in but the water stopped a fair way below the road. So I expect what we had last night was a high tide. Anyway, we used the water tap by the wall in the cemetery to fill our tank (having drunk from it first to make sure it was clean and had no taint) and set off for the Ceide Fields.
Took a good 90 minutes to get there, some of the roads were atrocious especially in the towns and villages (have I mentioned the roads???) Funnily enough while chatting with a lady in a pub and enjoying a pint of Guinness, she happened to mention her BMW car road tax was €1300 for one year!!!! Ouch, we thought, makes what we pay just pittance.  She was outraged at the state of the roads and wondered exactly where her money was being spent.
Oh dear....seems my train of thought has drifted....again.


Irish sense of humour perhaps?
 Anyway, we were almost at our destination when all vehicles came to an abrupt stop. Reason.....Cows and calves in the middle of the road. First thought, they had escaped but then a lad on a motorbike was seen behind the herd. So the beasts got past several cars and we were next in line for them to pass. On they came and then just stopped. Where was that herdsman? Chatting away to a chap in the last car for a good 5 minutes before he finally got underway again. It was a good job them cows knew to stay put. As I said in my heading....only in Ireland that time is not important.




There he is chatting to the car driver.
And still chatting. This road is an N road and well used as it is the Wild Atlantic Way.

Finally.
 Ceide Fields was not quite what we expected. Had hoped to see proper megalithic tombs but just a circle of stones were displayed. There was a tomb about 5km away but down some very narrow lanes so not a good idea to take the Beast to it. However, it was interesting to see the bogs and how the ancient stone walls (well over 5000 years BC) became visible after digging down some 1.5 metres. 


This 200-year-old pine was found in the peat bog. Dated some 4,400 years ago.


Some of the bog could be nearly 2 meters in depth.

Some of the bog mosses that make up the bog.

And growing within. Orchid, Sphagnum moss. Purple plant ??? and Cotton bog grass.




The cliffs with it's many layers of stone laid down over thousands of years.
  Took roughly 70 minutes drive to arrive at our next port of call. Glencar Waterfall. Only 2 km to go and disaster struck. A very low branch hanging across our side of the road which Ian only saw at the last minute and could do nothing to avoid. Consequently, our areial was ripped from the socket severing the wires and launched across the road. Ian stopped at the first convenient spot and legged it back in the hopes of finding it.


Nice spot to stop!


Ian tried to repair the fixings but to no avail. Seems a new aerial needs to be purchased. So with nothing else to do we parked up and walked to the falls.

With no notice to say we couldn't stop for the night, and not really wanting to go much further, we pulled forward towards the end of the car park, got the TV out and watched the recorded films on memory card with a glass or two of vino.


 And wildlife today,





Thursday, 19 July 2018

The tide cometh in...a bit too close for our liking.


Sunday15th July

Just like being back on the boat hearing the noise of the rain beating down on the roof. All night and all day the rain continued and this caused a dilemma. Do we continue with our plans to visit Kylemore Abbey with its 6 acres of walled Victorian gardens and walk the 1.5km to get to the Abbey from the gardens or do we give up on our plans and keep heading North? Decision made it would do no harm for us to see if the weather improved so we may as well drive the 12km, pull into the car park and decide then.

It was still raining heavily when we arrived at the Abbey but thought we may as well still enquire about the price. €10 for seniors wasn't bad and when we heard that a shuttle bus would take us to and from the gardens, it was all systems go. So wet weather gear on for the first time in weeks and a very pleasant 4 hours spent at the Abbey.






Out of the murk the figure of Jesus looked down on us 

By the time we left the clouds had lifted and Jesus could be seen more easily.

Final photo as we left. If only the weather had been better. So many walks to go on that a day could easily have been spent here.
Back on the road and a place on our list was to the Ceide Fields at Ballycastle, County Mayo. A stone age monument with its bog fields, field systems, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs. About 70km away it was doable taking about 2.5 hours. Arrival time according to the sat nav was 4.30pm. But as we approached the River Erriff a sign pointing the way to a waterfall. This we had to see. Although the falls themselves had some flow to it the main attraction and such a bonus for us, was the Salmon leaping to get further upstream.  Over an hour was spent watching them so our 4.30pm arrival time went way out of the window.








In the end, a place was found just outside Newport by Burrishoole Abbey, a very quiet place with water on one side and graveyard on the other. 




It was as we finished dinner that Ian happened to look out of the window. Oh, 'eck....the water had risen considerably and was now flowing over the grass area.  15 minutes later it reached the Beast. Time to move across to be nearer the cemetery.












The first time we have spent the night this close to a cemetery. Hope them ghosties keep themselves to themselves!  

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