Life on a narrowboat can be as peaceful as it is idyllic BUT you need to understand the pros, cons, highs, lows, and day to day logistics in living on England's inland waterways. Let me help you find out all you need to know before you commit to what could be a very expensive mistake.
Having launched in Liverpool Marina in December, having Christmas in Salthouse Dock & wintering at Scarisbrick Marina, we left at the end of March on our way back to Yorkshire (having left in August ’13 to live in a caravan whilst the boat was being made). Our first couple & of nights were spent moored at Burscough Wharf, after battling horrendous cold winds on our short sail from Southport. We had a deadline of 22nd April to get to Lemonroyd Marina, where we had booked the boat in for a week, whilst we visited our son & family. He is part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, flying the Hurricane & Spitfires, & the 24th & 25th April were the dates scheduled for their sign off for the season. What that meant was that a few invited guests (ie US) & the Big Whigs who were assessing the displays were privileged to watch 2 hours of glorious WW11 precious aircraft – perform just for them! It was imperative we hit this deadline.
Just as we left Scarisbrick Lock 55 at Blackburn was shut down for repair. For 3 weeks. We (sadly) enjoyed the Wigan Flight – but how many times can a woman look around the shopping centre which is Botany Bay??? We liaised regularly with C&RT who were very helpful, & gave us April 11th (lunchtime!) as date for reopening Lock 55. We thought it would be like Whacky Races on the 11th, but in the event there were only 3 boats ahead of us for the ascend… unfortunately we grounded a few times due to low water levels, but did make it through.
Onwards to Skipton, our next destination. I hated both Gannow & Foulridge Tunnels, & have now decided I am certainly claustrophobic. Chris was at the helm, I was below stairs with a large glass of Pinot G.
We had heard horror stories of some of the locks & swing bridges along route, but apart from one day, when we came through the spectacular Aire Valley & I had 10 farmers bridges to open, we were fine.
We made it from Red Rose to White Rose County on 13th April. Bliss. The clouds rolled back, the sun was warm & bright, & the beer in the Old Swan in Gargrave excellent. We had well over a week to get to Lemonroyd. So Easter Sunday we found a lovely mooring near Rodley, by The Railway Inn (getting the drift now?). In the night we heard some horrendous explosions…. we heard there had been a big fire at a chemical warehouse in Leeds. Forever the optimists we set off on a lovely Easter Monday morning… to be met by C&RT staff at Newlay Locks. You guessed it, the canal was closed lower down, due to the fire as the water was polluted & Env Agency advised draining the system, clearing out the dead fish & rewatering; it was going to take “a few days”. We turned around, found a mooring in Rodley & had a fabulous time watching the BBMF fly.
But – disappointed that, as new live-aboards, on our maiden voyage, we failed to traverse the whole 127 miles of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. We missed out by about 3 miles. Still, what an achievement I think….
In February 2011, Chris had (we were told later) 48 hours before a tumour on his spine severed his spinal chord, which would have led to his demise. It seemed so unfair; after fighting rheumatoid arthritis for a number of years, he was finally in remission – only to be hit by the big C. It’s true what everyone says. Surviving something like this is a life changing experience. We were living in a lovely country cottage.. but on the top of the Pennines.. & it was built over 4 floors. Too much for Chris. When we bought the house in 1993 we had a choice between that & a narrowboat. So we just reverted to Plan B.
After 2 years of angst selling the house, our boat – JetMeg1 (named after our 2 late border collies) – is currently in the build stage & hopefully we will be able to move onto her early December. She is 58′ x 13′, & you can see the hull in the attached photo. We are living in a caravan at the moment & can’t wait to start our new life.
Also still under consideration is Sonos wireless stereo system & Gomax satellite system. If anyone has experience of these, we would be very interested in your comments. After reading other boater’s blogs on here, we have plumped for 3MiFi.. & in the caravan it is currently working brilliantly, where TMobile & o2 dongles were useless.
Initially we will moor at Scarisbrick Marina, & intend from Spring 2014 to cruise wherever we fancy, whilst we can, & when we want. We are open to advice, help, support & more importantly – making new friends………