These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016 and 2017, returning to Roanne each winter.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Lough Key and Boyle Harbour 10th - 17th July

We spent the next three days at Drumman’s Island. The weekend crowd went home so life became more peaceful again. The walking in the Forest Park is lovely, and we have had some good weather.There is a disused canal, which runs through part of the park and there used to be a lock on the far side of Fairy Bridge.

We also spent time catching up on scratched paintwork, which is far less than it would be in England, as we have been through so few locks. None of these were narrow locks either! Andy refurbished the Squirrel stove, filling the crack which had appeared round the base of the chimney. The flames inside had looked very attractive through the gap, but it seemed a good idea to cover them! It is interesting that no smoke ever came into the cabin, out of the crack.

We decided to change our view midweek, so sailed round to the mooring which is right in front of the Lough Key Forest Park Centre, but it was full. This mooring was shown in a Waterways World supplement about the Irish Waterways in January, designated “a secluded mooring on Lough Key”. It is certainly lovely, but it can be very busy with gongoozlers at the weekends, being so close to the Centre. ( I will write more about activities there next week).
We do not mind other boats rafting on to us, but we are not the right boat to raft onto cruisers, especially with an elderly dog. It is difficult for her to cross other boats.

It was a beautiful sunny day, so we turned round and went round Drumman’s Island, up to the other end of Lough Key and on to the River Boyle. A canal was built about ten years ago, from the river to Boyle harbour, which can hold about fifteen boats. The jetties in the harbours , however, were not designed with narrowboats in mind!
The first part was level with the back of our roof, with metal steps up from the jetty by our side doors, which we thought were our only access. Having been heaved up and out of the side doors, then having to climb uncomfortable metal steps, Catkin was none too pleased. Thus the first time that she came back to The Puzzler, she did a kamikaze leap from the jetty, on to the back decking of the boat, nearly overshooting into the water beyond! It must have scared her, as she consented to use the side doors after that. We found carpet pieces for the steps too!
It is a good half hour walk to Boyle, which is quite a big town. We will be back here next week with friends.
The next day we returned to the Forest Park area. No luck again in front of the centre, so we went to the third mooring, which lies about half way round the bay. There are three full length (for us!) finger moorings here, rather than a T-shape, which seems to be more usual. We were beside Peter Farrell, which is a hundred year old barge, in very good repair. It is nearer to the main part of the Park.
On Friday we explored the other side of Forest park, before moving back to Drumman’s Island for a couple of very wet and windy days. Other boats arrived too, escaping the wind on other moorings in the area. One boat came in beside us, on the other side of our jetty, so that he could use us as a breakwater!

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