Thursday, 10 July 2014

'Be Prepared' for the magnificence of the Lancaster Canal



Ten members of Kendal's Trefoil Guild (Guiding and Scouting for adults) assembled at Crooklands landing stage last Wednesday evening for an interesting evening sail on the Lancaster Canal Trust boat Waterwitch.

The weather was perfect, with the sun picking out the tiny water ripples as the boat slowly passed banks of Meadow Sweet, then on into a bed of water lilies that was spreading across the waterway.

A group of ducks move graciously aside to allow the boat to pass. Water hens go about their business without a care.

As we passed under the bridges, each designed by a famous architect, the reflections and shadows remind us that bats in their roosts will be stirring as the day lengthens into evening.

Turning at the wide 'Winding hole' the solitary Heron takes flight - but only a few yards away up the bank. Cameras click on the boat, and there is hushed conversation as the Trefoil Guild take in each lovely sylvan scene.

Earlier, they had been treated to a short commentary of how gunpowder had been loaded onto barges at Wakefield's wharf at Crooklands. It was opened in or shortly after 1852 by the Wakefield company to serve their nearby gunpowder works at Low Gatebeck and exported around the world until the factory closed in 1936 (not a very longsighted decision, as it turned out). But all that is history and the Trefoil ladies and the commentator could not help but be affected by the glorious, stilled scenery.

Disembarking at the Stables, one lady, recently having had a hip replacement, still stepped sprightly ashore. A tribute to the indomitable spirit of retired Girl Guides.

How fortunate we all are to have the legacy of this lovely facility, created by a level of effort, organisation, and vision unprecedented in our nation's history on our doorstep. It's also a credit to the work of the Lancaster Canal Trust, who organise regular work parties to keep the canal open and in good repair.

The Lancaster Canal Trust extends a cordial invitation to visitors and local residents alike to come aboard their trip boat Waterwitch and enjoy a short cruise along the lovely Northern Reaches of this famous and historic waterway.  Waterwitch is a traditionally designed 28ft narrowboat. She is based at Crooklands bridge 5 miles south of Kendal just off the A65. The boat is crewed by a team of fully trained and certificated volunteers who are all members of the Lancaster Canal Trust.  The trips are entirely free - they ask only  for donations to help further the Trust's work.  

The 2014 trip boat season is now in full swing  until September, with trips every Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday plus Saturdays in August from  11am - 4pm, approximately every 40 minutes.
There's no need to book. It's just first come, first served. Weather Permitting!   If you're making a special journey you can check if the boat is operating - or you can book a special cruise for your group -  by calling  07504 710 351. You can find out more by clicking here.

The Lancaster Canal Trust also runs regular Work Parties and Work Camps and you are welcome to volunteer. It's a tidy and resourceful gang with some interesting kit on loan at times.

Our thanks goes to Frank Sanderson for keeping us up to date on the Trust's acivities.
You can find out more about the Lancaster Canal Trust at www.lancastercanaltrust.org.uk 

Regular canal cruises are also available at a modest ticket price from Lancaster Canal Boats, in the comfort of canal trip boat Kingfisher, winners of last year's Small Visitor Attraction Award from Lancashire Tourism. They start from many points along the canal reaches are you can find out more at the  Lancaster Canal Boats website.

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