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, 7 August 2022

No where to lay our heads.

 Gosh, what was on fire? I noticed a flame across the bay this morning. Ian soon put me right. Nothing to worry about, just a flare and all to do with safety features in petroleum refining.

 

Leaving Snab Point it was a short drive to the Round house in Walney. A stoney beach, not much in the way of sand. Tide was on the way out revealing lots of rock pools and taking advantage of easy pickings from captured fish/crustaceans were Gulls. Toffee was in her element, they were there for the chasing. 




 A plan had been formed, go toward Keswick and take a walk alongside Derwent Water. Of course, it was the weekend, and school holidays, realisation hit as we drove through Windermere, every car park looked to be full and hundreds of people milling around. Same again as we drove through Ambleside, oh dear what would Keswick be like? There had to be a plan B, but first we needed to form one. Luckily a small car park at the side of the road was a good place to stop. It also happened to be right by Thirlmere Reservoir. Just the perfect place for lunch and a walk, maybe this would be better than Derwent Mouth. 

 


Water levels looked to be low, although there seemed to be plenty of water cascading down over the waterfall. Must be all that rain we have had lately.


We made our way through ferns, the path had narrowed and in some places disappeared completely. We were going up and should have been going down, so we back tracked to the entrance and found a map. Marvellous things maps...they show the way to go, you know... doh.



 The reservoir was reached, Toffee went paddling, and both of us clambered over stones. We tried for the dam, but I never did master walking on stones that move. Didn't fancy a sprained ankle. It seemed worse going back. Twice I nearly came a cropper. Still it got us out and my fitbit step tally for the day was well over 11000. That's nearly 5 miles so not bad going.

 

For tonight's stop we tried for the White Horse at Scales. It's a Brit stop and Ian phoned the proprietor to reserve a space. We were informed it was a first come, first served and to come by all means but nothing was guaranteed. Well we did give it a go, pulled into the drive and straight out again. With it being a Saturday afternoon, not a space to be had. We then tried the park4night app. One was found quite near. Pulled into a small narrow lane only to be greeted with a 'Road Closed' sign. Hmm, not having much luck we thought. So a small Hideaway site was found on another app. Kept phoning but all we got was answer phone. By now we both thought any road lay-by would have to do. Ian was not one to give up and a few miles further he found a car park in a wood. Lovely and although we probably wouldn't get TV, at least it was somewhere to sleep. Wrong!!! In very small letters on a very small information board was the words No overnight parking! 

 


By now time was getting on. Ian tried a wild camping app and found roadside parking on a very quiet lane. It meant a journey of roughly 10 miles to get to it but by now we were desperate. A pub was nearby called The Mill Inn and a drink sounded even more welcome after we got settled. The place was called Mungrisdale (sounds like a a name from Harry Potter!) and then...oh no...as we turned down the lane another Road Closed sign!!! Honestly you couldn't make it up. 

 

The only saving grace was a small hand written sign saying the pub was still open. We knew the parking spot was before the pub, surely we could get to that. We went for it and this time luck was with us. Yes it's on a road but with that road closed sign I hardly think many cars will be coming past. Once the pub closes, it should be really quiet.

 

Unsure about tomorrow. We have booked into a site for the usual loo emptying and water tank filling. It also has a washing machine. Pretty desperate for that, both are running out of undies!

And wildlife today,



Curlew having a poop!

Saturday, 6 August 2022

A ship moving through sand?

 I dont wish to gloat, after all the south of England is having a hard time of it with lack of rain but up north we seem to be having more then we want! The downpour woke us up, it was the noise as the deluge  hit MB's roof. Toffee was worried, kept nudging first my arm than Ian's until we got up. It was only 5 am for goodness’ sake!

I hoped the rain would stop before taking Toffee out, it didn't, we got wet!

Off to Walney Island, a NT nature reserve was there as well as good beaches for Toffee to play on. On route got a bit side tracked. Made a slight detour when another NT place was spied as we came around a roundabout. On the spur decision, let's try there first so round we went again to take the second exit.

The place was called Fell Foot, and right on the shore of Lake Windermere. It's a water world playground for adult and kids alike, safe for swimming, canoeing, paddle boarding etc. We managed to get into their very small top car park (there was one lower but a quite steep incline to get back to the entrance, and I was still suffering from yesterday) slightly worried that we may not get out if cars either side would park too near. Anyway that worry was for later.

The sun had appeared as we left MB, hoped for a good dry day for our walk and the early stages looked promising. In fact, we nearly didn't bother taking waterproofs. We would have paid for that mistake because not 30 minutes into the walk, thick black clouds appeared and down down came the rain. Toffee didn't care, she was already wet from a swim earlier.


 And the steam locomotive appeared on the opposite shore. Ah, now we knew where we were. On the opposite bank was Lakeside station.





A dash then back to the cafรฉ, not achieved because of near monsoon conditions that made us decide the only sensible thing was to shelter under a tree.



We called it a day after that. Made it to the cafรฉ during a slight lull, had a bacon buttie and a cup of tea before making our way back to MB. Thankfully me fear of not getting out was unfounded, and we departed for our original destination of Walney Island.

Dismay when we arrived at the nature reserve. Not an easy place to get too having had to negotiate a single lane with the occasional passing place, met a fuel lorry and several cars, negotiate speed bumps that scrapped the underside of MB and scared Toffee as we rumbled over a cattle grid, to eventually pull into the car park to find no dogs allowed was very disappointing. Blast, now where. We had seen a decent place off the lane where we may be able to stop the night, even if we couldn't at least we could stop to find somewhere else to go. In fact where we pulled in was Snab Point and looked to be the ideal place to stay. Peil Island could be seen across the bay, and at low tide a walk there and back was possible. 

 

 

So should we do the walk? Tide times hadn't been looked at, and we are still very wary of quick sand. Seeing two chaps walking back toward us from the Island when they finally turned up I asked the question. His answer wasn't good. He was a local and knew where to walk. His advice if we wanted to go was get a proper guide. Also, the tide had turned and was now flowing in. Hmm, maybe not such a good idea then!

 

Quite bizarrely a ship appeared. It looked for all the world to be making good headway on sand! 


High tide was at 17.25, and you can see why people get caught out, the sea flowed in at a steady rate. Something caught our eye. In the sand lay, what looked like, a motorbike. This camera is not a patch on the one gone for a service, so I couldn't even focus on it properly. Whatever it is, it soon got submerged with the incoming tide.








 

This place is great for birdwatching., Curlews, Egrets, small shore wading birds all could be seen but such  a poor attempt to photograph them. Oh to have had my other camera!


 

Friday, 5 August 2022

A circular trip....not so!

The Sunset last night, a red sky not seen by us for quite a while. As sunsets go this one was pretty pathetic, lasted for only a few minutes before the clouds completely obscured the sun.

No hurry to leave this morning. Ian wanted to find a Curry's, the memory stick with the Harry Potters audio, Half Blood Prince had become corrupted. Part way through and it was like a stuck record, the same word over and over again. He decided to upgrade to a 16 GB, the last one being only 1 GB. Back to Lancaster we went. 

Big place Lancaster, finding Curry's was no problem but Sainsbury was a different matter. We must have driven around the one way system several times and still no sign of it. An Aldi was spied, that would have to do instead and pulling into the car park, there was the canal. Took the opportunity to give Toffee a quick walk 



90 minutes after leaving Lancaster we arrived at Lakeside, Lake Windermere. Overnight parking for £4.50, not bad we thought. Plan was to have a stroll along the lakeside but on arrival, not a footpath to be seen. What was there and if we had done some research we would have known, was the Lakeside and Haverthwaite steam railway. What a time to have Toffee. Dogs are welcome on the train but Toffee can be very nervous around a lot of folk. Tail goes down between the legs, she becomes anxious and sticks to us like glue. Nop it would not be fair, instead photos were taken and another loco to put on our todo list for future adventures. 


How's that for our overnight parking spot!


What we did find walking past the station, a sign pointing to Great Knott Wood. It meant a 150 mtr walk along the narrow road to get to it, luckily the road to the entrance had plenty of driveways to rush into if a car came along.

There was this notice pinned to the entrance,


Gosh the devastation was very apparent on the way around. So many trees uprooted and some trees had red splodges painted on the trunk. I believe these were the diseased larch judging by the white streaks running down the bark.


Phytophthora ramorum disease.

 We climbed steadily for about half a mile finally reaching the top with some relief. 

 




 
The view from the top
 

Of course what goes up must come down, I envisaged a bit of discomfort from the knees on the way down but when I saw just how steep the descent would be, I groaned inwardly. I really didn't want to turn back, so with gritted teeth and a gait more like a Penguin, I started on the way down. Took forever to reach flat ground, must have been at least a quarter mile descent, had to have many stops to ease the pain and the relief was massive with the thought the worst was over on reaching the bottom. I hadn't reckoned on the one thing that would scupper our chance of  a round trip. This was not a circular walk through the wood as first thought. In fact the wood walk stopped abruptly at the road! OMG narrow with many bends and cars whizzing along at some silly MPH. No way would we risk Toffees life, or ours for that matter.  Nothing for it but turn tail and clamber up that steep slopea gain.




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That final descent, a gentler slope much to my relief, all we had was that last walk along the road and back to Lakeside. Stopped at the cafรฉ, not so much for a well earned drink but more that we could take the weight off. Sitting beside Lake Windermere and watching the boats, well we could have sat there all afternoon. 






 

So what to do tomorrow...no idea at the moment.

And wildlife




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