Ribble Link

As our plan is to cruise all the connected navigable waterways this included the Lancaster canal which is not connected to any other canal. It’s only access, aside from a large crane and lorry assisting, is via the tidal rivers Douglas and Ribble and the Millenium Ribble link which was opened in 2002, and when it was built was the only canal in GB built entirely for recreational purposes. As this is tidal it is protected at both ends by sea locks which are only operated when the tide and weather are suitable by Canal and River trust staff. We duly booked our passage with a little fear and trepidation. 

We were due to travel across on Sunday 17th May but the weather was very windy in the morning when the tide was right and it was called off. I was quite pleased about this.  We were put on standby for Monday morning. 

Monday came cloudy and wet but not as windy and we were in business together with the other 7 boats waiting to cross. We left Tarleton and headed for the lock feeling anxious and excited in all our waterproofs and life jackets. We were first through the lock with a smaller boat and once through headed into the River Douglas. At this point the tide was coming in and water rushed towards us. The Douglas is a huge river and we travelled along it for about 4 miles before it opens into the Estuary with glimpses of the Irish Sea. The water was quite big, (from the perspective of being in a 57′ flat bottomed narrow boat) and the stormy weather continued as waves crashed over the front of Eunoia, but she was wonderful and didn’t cause us any doubts. As we rounded the Astland lamp which marks the safe route and also the point where the Douglas and Ribble meet the tide was slack which gave us an easier journey for another 2 1/2 miles to the junction of the Ribble link. Also at this point the rain stopped giving us a more pleasant journey. We found the Ribble link and headed in through the sea lock where we moored up to await the other boats and for the tide to go down so that we could get under the next bridge. 9 locks later, travelling with NB Amy with John and Nicki, we reached the Lancaster canal and got ourselves moored up. The highlight of the locks would have to be the final staircase of three locks that you have to reverse into – a good novelty and a test of those steering. 

What a journey, 10 miles, 10 locks, big rivers and glimpses of the Irish Sea. Obviously we have to do the return trip – let’s hope for a dryer, sunnier, wind free day on 18th June! 

A few photos of the trip. 

First lock ready for action


Big river Douglas


Mixing with the big boats


The Ribble Estuary with glimpses of Irish Sea


We need to get under this bridge!


Fantastic reversing into locks with NB Amy


Guaging the Ribble 1st lock


views like this make it all worthwhile…




We had the chance to take the relatively new Liverpool link which joins the Leeds and Liverpool canal right into the Albert Dock. What a fantastic trip around the north of the city leading to Eldonian Village and the Stanley locks. You then pass through huge docks including Stanley, Collingwood, Salisbury, West Waterloo, Princes then you pass in front of the three Graces – Royal Liver building, port of Liverpool building and the Cunard building. You finally head into Canning Dock and then Albert and Salthouse Docks where we moored just by Liverpool one. It felt like we were travelling where so many huge ships had sailed before and it was awe inspiring. We were obviously helped by Rogers humming of the Liverbirds theme tune as we cruised! 

We had 12 nights in the city during which we were spoilt for choice of things to do. My highlights were (in no particular order)

  • Slavery museum, where there was a fantastic display about world inequality and the situation in the Congo. 
  • Maritime museum
  • Central library – what fantastic architecture. 
  • St George’s Hall
  • The two cathedrals, both magnificent in their own very different ways. 
  • The Cavern quarter for the live music. 
  • Liverpool museum. 
  • Listening to live music by The Full English at St George’s concert hall. 

I was disappointed by the Tate gallery and the museum of the world, but I guess that’s just down to taste. 

We left Liverpool docks yesterday and cruised back up the Leeds and Liverpool canal stopping at Maghull.  Today we took a train trip to Crosby to see Gormeys iron men. So impressive and wonderful. 

Here’s a few photos of our Liverpool trip. We recommend this city to you all. 


Going through the locks



Anglican cathedral


Our mooring in Salthous dock


dragon racing in Queens Dock


St Georges concert hall


Central library


Central library


Cruising through albert dock


The Three Graces


Gormey’s iron men