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.

Tuesday 31 July 2018

Waterfalls Galore

Friday, July 27th

So much for a quiet night!. The seafront carpark attracted the courting couples and with it the incessantly noisy thump, thump of the car radio's base beat! And just when the noise finally stopped around midnight, the couples decided to get rid of the empty beer bottles right in the bin next to us!


The close proximity of the bin.
Bleary-eyed and with a raging headache, Ian took pity and cooked a traditional English Breakfast. Lovely it was and raised the spirits no end.

Before setting off we took ourselves off for a walk along the beach. An inviting hole in the side of the rocks drew us in. Intriguing and just had to be viewed. Flash on the camera worked wonders to illuminate the back of the cave....and all the rubbish strewn on the floor.

Looking at the map we located a place called Glenariff Forest Park, Co Antrin. Sounded lovely with its many waterfalls and picturesque walks. But on arrival, we were shocked to see how much we had to pay for the privilege to park just to go for a walk.

 Unsure whether we were classed as a car or minibus, logic dictated that we ask at the cafe for advice. And advice we got in the form of "No need to worry dearies, the warden is away so parked up and enjoy the visit". That is exactly what we did and armed with water and biscuits, walked the 4-mile circular trip. And......the icing on the cake......I saw my first Red squirrel!!!! It had its face in one of the feeder boxes and as we walked towards it, it took fright and disappeared up a tree.

Shame I didn't get a photo of the squirrel

 We still had one more NT visit to make. This time to yet another waterfall in Gleneo. Further south along the east coast and near to a place called Larne.

Tomorrow we hope to do the Gobbins. 

Monday 30 July 2018

Walking the footsteps of giants.

 Thursday 26th July

An early start for us today. We had bought tickets yesterday for the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge for 9.30am crossing. By 8.45am we were already in the car park and one of the first to arrive. With pre-bought tickets, we sailed past the ticket office and, with more cars arriving by the minute, the queues that were now forming.

It was about a 1km walk to the bridge and on arrival, a locked gate blocked our path. But it did give a good opportunity to take photos without anyone around.

 9.30 am on the dot the NT bods arrived. After checking the wind speed (it sure was blowing a hooley today) and finding the speed to by about 20mph (they close the bridge at 40mph) we gave them our tickets and walked across.

The bridge bounced and swayed and if it wasn't for the two other people that had joined us, Ian would have tried to make the bridge swing. He's like that you see. He likes nothing better than to see me on edge.

Once across, the walk on the island was a tad disappointing. Parts had been cordoned off so we could only do a short walk. There were nesting Gulls and the smell from the guano was quite overpowering. Within 20 minutes we were ready to cross the bridge back again. Got back to the Beast by 10.15am and made the 9km journey to the Giants Causeway. Fully expecting the car park to be full, we were amazed to find plenty of room, even for the Beast.

Top right, huge jellyfish and bottom L a coach load of tourists had arrived just when we wanted to return. The nice NT bod held them up so we could cross first.
Another good walk was needed to reach the stones but as NT members we could travel the shuttle bus for free. I know, I know....how lazy can one get. Anyway, the place was heaving by the time we got down, people everywhere but plenty of places still devoid of bodies. It was as impressive as I last remembered it back in 2011 and then the Visitor centre hadn't even been built. And a snippet of iformation. It was declared a Heritage site by UNESCO in 1986.

Bottom R a circle made of salt

Instead of taking the bus back the cliff side walk appealed. What I had failed to realise (and Ian conveniently forgot to mention) was the 160 steps to be climbed on the way back up. Don't feel quite so guilty now in taking the bus earlier!

View from the top. Bottom R is the giant's stones and all those pinhead dots are people

One more visit on the agenda for today. Bushmills Whiskey distillery. I'm not a whiskey fan so after the tour, (no photos allowed) and shorter than usual because of the 'Silent Season' (no production of the whiskey so various stages were missed out) it was into the bar for the tasting. Below is Ian drinking his own as well as mine. 

No he is not inebriated (or so he said) blames his closed eyes on the flash!

Whiskey Chandelier

By now it was late afternoon so we looked for a night stop. Found one right on the seafront at Ballycastle.

Well we just had to act as typical tourists              

Sunday 29 July 2018

Cruck & Truss

Wednesday 25th July

We do seem to be doing a lot of NT properties just lately, well there are rather a lot along the Causeway Coastal Route. Not far from Gortmore and that fabulous viewpoint was a place called Downhill Demesne. The mansion was built in the 18th century but was destroyed by fire in 1851. After it was rebuilt in 1870's it fell into disrepair after the second world war and NT acquired the property in 1980.

The Dovecote and still in residence, a pigeon chick

Much of the cliffs are covered in chains to stop rock fall. This chap abseiling down was checking those chains.

A view to admire. No wonder the mansion was built here.
 Also part of the entrance fee was a visit to Hazlett House. The thatched cottage has an early timber frame dating from 1690, making it one of the oldest domestic buildings in Northern Ireland. Built as a rectory for the local church it was bought by the Hazletts in 1761

NT bought it the house because of the family history and also because the construction was very unusual. It is called Cruck and Truss construction which means the house has no foundations, the walls are not load bearing and the whole house is held up on wooden timbers which form arches and are spaced out down the house.

15 Farm hands slept here, mainly young boys.
 As I was desperate to get some washing done it was decided to find a proper campsite for the night. Found one near to the Bushmills distillery, a quiet site apart from a dog in the next field barking every time anyone walks by. So two wash loads done and with the weather today being warm and sunny (not the UK temperatures but a very pleasant 21 deg) the whole lot dried on the line.

So obviously we are going to the distillery but also the rope bridge, Carrick-a-Rede, and Giants Causeway.

Saturday 28 July 2018

Murals of Bloody Sunday

Tuesday 24th July

The Giants Causeway was another thing on our 'to do' list as was the Causeway scenic ocean drive. The start of this was in Londonderry. A wall surrounds the inner city which can be walked so deciding to spend the day that's where we headed for.

Found a great spot to stop near to Columbs Park and quite near to the Peace Bridge. A marvellous design which at first I thought stable but stopping to admire the view the bridge sways ever so  slightly.

The town square

View from the top of the Tower Museum

The wall

And some of the colourful characters on a route. All part of the Arts Council. We encountered the Suffragettes and George Farquahar a famous poet and writer of the time.

Away from the wall and murals were painted on the house walls all over the Bogside area. Mostly about the Northern Irelands Bloody Sunday. 

Bloody Sunday memorial

When the new road was put in the only thing left standing was this house gable end

St Columb's Cathedral

Do you know what I find remarkable? None of the murals has been defaced or graffitied. This goes to show the strength of feeling amongst the Northern Irelanders which is still present today. In fact Londonderry is now only known as Derry but was that because of the troubles or of something more recent. Not sure.

Back to the Beast by 3.30pm and it was decided to find somewhere to stop 'out of the way'. To beat the Navar Forest view I said would be a difficult task but this came a very close second.

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