Across the Ribble Link to the Lancaster Canal

For the last week we’ve been making our way up the Trent & Mersey and Leeds & Liverpool Canals to get to Tarleton on time for our booked trip across the Ribble Link to the Lancaster Canal. We’d been looking at the weather forecasts and there was a fair bit of doubt as to whether we’d be able to set out. When you’re out on the estuary you’re subject to the vagaries of wind and tide and some gales had been forecast.

As it turned out there was a weather window that co-incided with our booked departure. The wind speed and direction were just about acceptable and we headed off towards Tarleton Lock.

SettingOffFairWeatherWe paired up in the lock with Yorkshire couple Stuart and Jeanette on nb Kestrel.

InTheLockwithKestrelAs the lock gates shut we were out onto the River Douglas….


…and heading down towards the Ribble Estuary.

OnTheRiverDouglasIt wasn’t a particularly big tide which meant that we had less time to make the trip – just over two hours – before the rotating sea lock at Savick Brook would be shut and we would be forced to pay for a night’s mooring in Preston Marina. There were two boats following us so the prospect of at least some of us not making it in time was a real one.

After just under an hour we spotted the Asland Lamp, which marks the spot where the River Douglas goes into the Ribble Estuary. So far so good!

AslandLampWe rounded the Asland Lamp without any problem. Despite the wind being quite strong, it was coming from the South West which offered a fair amount of protection.




Gordon looked at home back in salt water.

CaptainGord  AllAtSea

The two boats that had left after us caught us up and rounded the lamp not long after we did.


As you go up the River Ribble you can see Preston ahead and progress seems to be slow. We weren’t worried about not making Savick Brook on time as there was an alternative but we were keen to avoid the extra £28 mooring fee!

Just before the turn we phoned up the Savick Brook lock-keeper who told us that we were fine, provided we hurried. We could see Kestrel ahead of us and were happy that we’d get there in time.



The two boats behind followed us into the Brook….


…and we all got over the rotating sea lock just 5 minutes before it had to be closed for that tide.


To join the Lancaster Canal, having worked our way up five locks, we had to reverse into the bottom of the three staircase locks. The winding hole has silted up and it cannot be guaranteed that longer boats can turn to go in forwards. Kestrel was small enough to be able to go in forwards. The locks are worked for you by the CRT lock keepers which felt like a real luxury.

InTheStaircaseAt the top I was disappointed not to see the statue of the ‘Ribble Piddler’ (I got this photo from the web) but apparently he rotted and had to be replaced.


A narrowboat on a wave now sits on the plinth outside the gates of the top chamber. Not the best of photographs but it was tipping it down – hopefully I’ll get a better one on the way back.


By now the wind was increasing in strength and the rain was coming down heavily but the weather window had lasted long enough to get us up the estuary and into safety. The end of an incredibly enjoyable adventure – but the start of our exploration of the Lancaster Canal.

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2 Responses to Across the Ribble Link to the Lancaster Canal

  1. Fiona says:

    Looking forward to reading your adventures on the Lanky. One of our favourite canals we are very familiar with it. We are in Lancaster often as it is our land address! To have hills, canal and sea in one hit is great. Enjoy the Black and White Canal. Avoid Glasson Basin on windy days. Take the 555 bus from Tewitfield to the Lakes. Walk the locks of the Northern Reaches. Take a bus to Crooklands for a boat trip on the unrestored bit. The Guide to the Lancaster Canal from the Lancaster Canal Trust is the best guide.

    • ewnhacul says:

      Thanks for the recommendations Fiona. Got many of those things pencilled in – good bit of advice about Glasson if it’s windy! Don’t think we can fit in the trip to Crooklands for the boat as we’re not there on a Sunday but, from what we’ve seen of the canal already, I’m sure we’ll be back. Seventeen days seemed so much time when we didn’t know how much there is to see and do here – now it seems nowhere near enough.

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