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.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

4th July. Up The River Barrow on high water! Back up The Barrow Line to The Fisherman's Thatched Inn at Fisherstown.

We walked across to see the weir at Milford. The lock cut leaves the river just above the weir, going off to the left, at the top left of this picture.

The Strong Stream Mill at Milford generates electricity and this town was the first in Ireland to have electricity, because of this. There is certainly a strong stream here, below the weir!
We were still safely above Milford lock but the river level was rising so we conferred with the lockkeeper. More rain being forecast, he contacted his supervisor for permission for us to return immediately up the river. He felt that our engine was powerful enough to do this so that we could reach the safety of the canal. We had to go down the lock to turn round, with a strong hand on the front rope to help.

Once below the lock, Andy took the stern out to catch the current.

Two seconds later, he was heading back into Milford lock, feeling rather giddy at the speed of the turn!

We reached the lock at Carlow safely, although on narrow parts of the river we were barely reaching two mph against the strong current. Above the lock can be seen the weir.
Instead of crossing in front of the island, above the weir, as boats would do on lower water levels, we are going straight ahead behind the island. This is only possible because the water is so high. Do click on this picture to see the normal navigation channel, which goes in front of the island across the weir!
The Puzzzler only just managed to squeeze through this low arch of the bridge. The bows were then stuck in some reeds, but a friendly passerby came to help our invaluable lockkeeper push us out. As we crossed above the bridge to regain the navigation channel, Andy found that we were not making a lot of headway, due to weed picked up by the bridge. He managed to get across and we got a line to our lockkeeper on the bank, before we disappeared back downstream towards the bridge! Having removed the weed we were fit to carry on.
We are now passing the point where we were stuck on a sandbank, only two days ago. The sandbank is in front of the island, and extends out quite a long way. Our rope went from the boat to the wall on the left, beyond the steps, where our lockkeeper had his van to pull us off.

Some cattle were paddling through the swirling water on the edge of the river. It seemed a risky game they were playing, but then, the grass is always greener!

We were glad to return up through Levitstown lock and know that it was not so far to go on the river.
Crossing above the weir beyond Levitstown's long lock cut was the next hazard to overcome, but that too went well. I was going to take a photo of the weir at Athy as we passed it, but there was too much water for us to see where it was!
The evening clouds welcomed us back on to the Barrow Line. We have never been more pleased to reach any canal! Our trip up from Milford took us seven hours to complete at an average speed of two miles an hour.
There was a lovely sunset, with the rays shining down from the clouds. We continued on up the Barrow Line to Fisherstown, for a last visit to see Old Sean at the Fisherman's Thatched Inn. He is a wonderful landlord in a very special pub. After that we returned for drinks next door, with a lovely family from Capetown, who had arrived at the mooring earlier that evening in their boat.

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