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.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

4th - 8th May 2012. Lough Allen.

The Shannon - Erne Waterway ends just below Leitrim, and it is a sharp right turn to carry on up the River Shannon towards Lough Allen. We were not able to visit Lough Allen last year as the weather was never suitable. Hopefully we will make it this time!  
There are three locks on the Lough Allen canal, with the Shannon River running parallel, below us. Battlebridge lock is first, with strong gate paddles to contend with here. It reminds us of the Leeds/Liverpool canal, before the baffles were added to the paddles there.

The Lough Allen canal is lovely, and is rather like the Shropshire Union Canal in England.

Drumleague Lock is next. It is a shorter lock and has a leaky top left gate paddle. These locks are also much narrower than those on the Shannon - Erne Waterway.

With a shorter boat, like this cruiser, the paddles are no problem, so long as the engine keeps on running! However, it didn't, so ropes were rapidly deployed, and Sally helped Angela pull the boat out of the lock safely.

On entering any lock, the lockkeeper will put a hook down to take each rope from the boat crew at bow and stern. It is normally the front rope which is taken first, but on this occasion Pat started with our stern line, so the leaky gate paddle promptly pushed the bows straight across to the other side, through the leaking water! Rapid change of plan!

We ended up on the right of the lock, with the other gate paddle splashing across our bows, once it was opened. No harm was done though.
We moored on the end of the jetty above Drumshanbo lock looking out towards the hills. Having been told that there was live music at one of the pubs in Drumshanbo on Friday night, we decided to go for 9pm, as most evening entertainment starts later in Ireland. However, having found the pub, we were told it did not start until 10.30pm at the earliest! We went to watch cows and calves being sold instead at the auction mart, which was in full swing. Presumably they carry on to the pub for the music later! We went back to The Puzzler.
Going northwards from Drumshanbo, we join Lough Allen, and can see Slieve Aneurin, the highest point of the Iron Mountains, to our right. The Shannon - Erne Waterway lies beyond these mountains, where the sun is just rising.

We carry on up Lough Allen, which is surrounded by hills. Lough Allen is roughly triangular in shape, with only two moorings on it.
We had set off early and had a calm run up the lough to Cleighran More jetty, which is at the top right corner of Lough Allen. Our route from here is straight across the lough, in line with this stone wall, to find the other mooring.
As we cross Lough Allen, which seems very wide at this point, the sun is trying to break through the clouds ahead. Finding the markers which show the entrance to Spencer Harbour would be extremely difficult without binoculars.

Spencer Harbour, at the north west corner of Lough Allen, is quite sheltered, lying behind Corrie Island.

Angela and Tiger had already arrived in their boat and, as usual, Tiger told us all that he was in charge. They have had no more trouble with their engine.
We had hoped to find some walking from Spencer Harbour, but the lane up to the main road was all that was on offer. We were pleased to see that there was a speed limit back down this country lane. However 80 kph does seem a little fast!
At the southern end of Lough Allen we could see the exit of the Shannon River which is controlled by this sluice. We cruise past, back to Drumshanbo at the head of the Lough Allen Canal.

We turned to moor again at the far end of the long jetty above Drumshanbo lock, looking out towards Lough Allen.

Later in the day we saw fire engines heading out towards this gorse fire on the hillside.

Bank Holiday Monday brought the heaviest rain we have seen so far this year. Hopefully this made sure that the gorse fire was out.

Returning down the Lough Allen Canal, Andy got rather wet from the leaky top paddle in Drumleague lock!

The bottom paddle in Battlebridge lock is unusual in that you can see the whole paddle gear, once the lock is empty. As we exit this lock we are once again on to the Shannon River.

We returned to Leitrim for a calm mooring overnight, back on the Shannon Erne Waterway. We also topped up with diesel in Leitrim as the garage is not too far away here. All our diesel has to be fetched from garages in our two 5 gallon containers, as there are very few boatyards selling it. There are also very few boatyards!


  1. Unfortunately that service station selling diesel in Leitrim village is currently closed.

    1. Thank you for the info. We are now in France with The Puzzler, but Qizma would be interested.