Friday, 29 March 2013

Lancaster Canal and Ribble Link

My last post recorded our continued mission to walk the Lancaster Canal and the Ribble Link, and revealed my puzzlement regarding the continuation of the Ribble Link after the first tier of locks.

Two issues arise: my own failure to look at the scene properly on that visit, and secondly the limitations of the Ordnance Survey 1:50000 map.

Our trip today started a kilometre down The Link from the aforementioned junction with the Lancaster Canal at the point where we finished last time. From that road bridge we followed a surfaced cycle path as far as practically possible. The Tarmac developed into a rough path which was terminated by a tributary flowing into The Link with no easy means of crossing, and no indication on the map that orthodox progress to the junction with the River Ribble a kilometre further was possible.

We returned by the same route then drove back to The Link junction with the Lancaster Canal to try and unravel the mystery.

Looking down the three tier locks and straight ahead the canal apparently continues as an unnavigable stream blocked by a fallen tree, but then we noticed a footbridge going off to the right halfway down the locks, and further examination revealed that the Ribble Link doubles back acutely on itself immediately at the foot of the locks, to flow under the footbridge, followed, again immediately, by a tunnel going under the adjacent road (Tom Benson Way), and straight after this, on the other side of the road another tunnel takes the Link under the railway. A hundred yards or so after that tunnel the path joins the path shown on the OS map which we arrived at by a much more circuitous route last time (see my sketch map).

Chatting with a Waterways worker we were told that the boats are instructed to enter the acute bend at the bottom of the locks in reverse because the space available makes turning unreasonably difficult.

The enlarged OS map below shows a congestion of information, and that there is just no room for the mapmakers to indicate a footpath continuing under the road and the railway. Occasionally the 1:50000 map is just not up to the job, but I still much prefer it to the larger scale 1:25000.

Hopefully we will be out again next Thursday when we will complete this exploration of the Lancaster Canal, when, barring further navigational stupidity, we will arrive at the terminus in the centre of Preston.

The orange marker shows our route which was as far as we could proceed within reason


These guys were not canal workers - they were employed just to lift these Waterways boats out and transport them - they were not very communicative
There is a golf course on the other side



This didn't look high enough for boats to pass underneath - another mystery? Oh no, don't let's start again!


As far as we were prepared (in both senses) to go

The apparent continuation of The Link from the top of the last of the three locks - the Savick Brook was blocked by a tree just after the second arrow. The Link doubles back on itself as indicated by the single arrow. The visible water is not conducive to easy turning of the boats and they go through the hairpin back right in reverse

Click to enlarge
The pink marker shows our original lengthy route.
The yellow marker shows the correct and shorter route
The red dots show public footpath as shown on the OS map

The Link is running under this road. The tunnel under the railway is just beyond the end of the fence on the left

The tunnel under the road and the tunnel under the railway visible behind

Through the railway tunnel. The footpath shown on the OS map commences on the banking beyond, but it is a longer circuitous trip through a housing estate to get there from the Lancaster Canal

Looking back at the three tier locks with The Link doubling back on the left. How we missed all that on our first trip I do not know

The Savick Brook emerging through the tunnel - its continuation at right edge of picture is blocked by a fallen tree

Enlargement of OS map showing the difficulty of showing a footpath going through the road/railway area. The red dots of the two footpaths are visible which explains to some extent the route I took attempting to link them both together

PS - Previously when I clicked on a photo the whole sequence appeared as thumbnails enabling the viewer to see them all as a slide show. Now I seem to have to click each one individually, returning back into the post each time. Anybody got any ideas?

8 comments:

welshpaddler said...

Hi Conrad, two pics are not showing.

Navigation on the hill is so much easier than therural areas.

welshpaddler said...

Hi Conrad, two pics are not showing.

Navigation on the hill is so much easier than therural areas.

bowlandclimber said...

Hi Conrad,
I've messed about in the same area with a friend who has a narrow boat. He was not impressed with the link. I wonder, after all the expense of creating it, how many boats use it per year? Presumably having negotiated the link you are "sailing" on the Ribble in a flat bottomed canal boat.

gimmer said...

your challenge to followers to unravel your 'mystery' lead me to a bit of on-line study (I won't dignify it with the term 'research', of course, for reasons you will fully understand!) :
the Link is actually cut along the lower reaches of the Savick Brook - the tree- blocked stream is a feed to/from the lake in Haslam Park.
The source of the brook is well to the east of the M6, winding its way via Preston Golf Course and innumerable back gardens and industrial estates - which is probably why the link looks like an industrial drain - not a patch on the old Georgian canal itself, as one can see from your images, but still the first navigable waterway made in England since the Manchester Ship Canal in C19 - amazing!.
I hope it is not premature to say this, but very well done for your perseverance and the example to us all as to what pleasure and interest can emerge from what might have appeared initially, for men of the mountains, to be a relatively modest undertaking, but which has turned out to be full of variety and a most joyful progress for us followers to enjoy vicariously.
http://www.ribblelink.co.uk/Skippers%20Guide.pdf

Sir Hugh said...

Welshpaddler - Hi Bob. I agree. It is something I have said before. I have to admit the OS 1:25000 is more appropriate in the urban and countryside environment especially as it shows field boundaries.

The pics seem to be ok on my Mac and on my iPad and iPhone. If anybody else reading this has had problems I would like to know.

Bowland climber - I think it has probably been more used than the Falkirk Wheel which I passed on my LEJOG trip - I walked many miles on the canal that the Wheel lifts boats up onto and never saw a single boat. When you use the Ribble Link I think you have to book ahead and join some sort of convoy, but I wouldn't relish being on the Ribble on a windy day in a narrow boat.

Gimmer - I'm glad to see you have managed to get the comment to work for you.

Thanks for your interesting detail. I think you are right. When we spoke to a Waterworks guy I think he said that the river running into the bottom of the three locks carries storm water and causes silting up on occasions.

Thank you for your kind words. I will most likely do some sort of summing up on the whole project when we have completed the last section.

beatingthebounds said...

Continuing to enjoy you Lancaster Canal exploration.
Is the map preference partly due to habit and familiarity? In England I nearly always use 1:25000 - I like the extra detail and, through familiarity I think, I find it easier to judge distances using them. In Scotland I always use 1:50000, because.....I always have, so those are the maps I have. Some of the older ones are rubbish. I recall an exciting day on Maol Chean Dearg near Torridon in lots of snow: finding a route to the top became that much more exciting when we discovered that the hill was much more crag girt than the map suggested.
I did once attempt to navigate a descent route from Lugnaquilla in the Wicklows using an All-Ireland map. Not something I could recommend.
Mark

Sir Hugh said...

Beatingthebounds -Hi Mark.

I do not get an overall picture of the lie of the land with 1:25000.

Some of the detail is very small to see even though I now continue to wear my varifocals on the hill.

The maps are too unwieldy to open or to fold or to carry or to put into a pocket, and if you do fold them they always split at the creases, even when you do this to get them into the scanner to print your selected area,

I already have the whole country on Memory Map at 1:50000 and just print off the area I want. Assuming the area I have selected is less than a sheet of A4 the printer automatically enlarges it to fill the sheet of A4 giving a much easier to read result. That single sheet then goes easily into my Ortleib map case and can be stowed in a pocket or down my shirt front. I always judge distance from the kilometre squares; they are still a kilometre whether enlarged or not.

the !:25000 is too expensive to have the whole country on Memory Map - I know you can download bits from various websites as required, but that is a bit tiresome.

I do sometimes scan a particular area on the 1:25000 if I anticipate field boundaries may be a problem.

For a longish backpacking trip you would need too many maps at 1:25000 - even with the 1:50000 I have split the single A4 sheets into bundles which have been posted ahead.

There are some bad OS errors in Scotland. If you walked on sensible compass bearings related to the map from Beinn a Chaorainn (NN 386 850) to point 1044m further along the ridge to the north the corrie is much more incut than shown and some friends in the Yorkshire Mountaineering Club went right through the cornice a few years ago; fortunately there was no serious injury. The guy was with his dog and he suddenly went through and landed quite along way down and the dog followed landing on his head.

beatingthebounds said...

I haven't invested in Memory Map, or any of its competitors, and am still reliant of paper copies - although I generally buy the waterproofed ones these days. They seem to be pretty robust and so I don't bother with a map case - they always annoyed me anyway.
I can see your point about long trips, but you have much more experience of that then I do, I've never done anything longer then the Pennine Way (when we used 1:50000 mostly I think) and a Ravenglass to Lindisfarne Coast to Coast when I used a mixture of the 2.
Mark