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.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

4th - 7th July. The Barrow line from Athy to Lowtown

In May 1784 there was a flyboat service from Dublin to Athy. Boats left Dublin at 7am and reached Athy by 5pm. We are going much slower though! Having left Athy we carried on slowly up the Barrow Line, and were soon overtaken by Flying Hawk. It is good to see another boat on these waterways.
Mooring can be tricky, but we found that the bows fitted nicely on to the end of Camac Aqueduct. The next morning we had some drama on the approach to Vicarstown. A horsefly buzzed Andy, so he flicked it off his face. Unfortunately, at the same time, he also flicked his glasses into the canal. The Puzzler was immediately put into reverse and a search was instigated. Fortunately, at this point the canal is over six feet deep, so backing the boat did not disturb the mud on the bottom. The water is also crystal clear, so that it was eventually possible to locate the glasses, lying quietly on the bottom. Sally tried to swim down to get them, but this was too risky, as a sweeping hand could easily have buried them in the mud. Andy had the brilliant idea of using the barge pole, by placing it close to the glasses, so that Sally could go down, hand on the pole, to collect them. What odds would anyone have given on this result?

 Shannon and I often walk along the towpath, between bridges. This one is on the approach to Fisherstown bridge from the south.The quality of some of these, for dog walking, has to be seen to be believed. At this time of year the towpath often cannot be seen from the canal, which is down below us at this point.

Back on The Puzzler, peace is temporarily destroyed by the motorway crossing overhead.

A couple of minutes later it is as though the road crossing had never been.
In Monasterevin we cross the River Barrow on an aqueduct, as we approach the lifting road bridge. Joe Moore, our lockkeeper, started to operate the lift bridge. The sirens go off first, then the barriers come down to stop the traffic. However, one car was in a hurry and did not plan on waiting! He accelerated under the barriers as they came down, with the bottom part of the second barrier brushing his windscreen as he sped on! It could so easily have been an accident, if he had been one second later!
Safely past the bridge, in Monasterevin, we see two familiar boats ahead. Flying Hawk is here, while on the left is 34B. We saw this barge last, a month ago, in the middle of the canal, where he had slipped his moorings!

The Puzzler has a good reflection on Saturday, as the wonderful weather continues.

We had a queue of two boats at lock 23! This is our first queue at a lock on the whole canal system, as we follow Flying Hawk up this double lock.
Ratangan is a good place to stop for diesel. Andy did three trips to the nearby garage, to make sure that the tank is full for any potential rough weather on Lough Derg. If we believe the weather forecast though, this is unlikely!

The canal water always tastes sweeter, although sometimes it can be difficult to reach.

The canal is very straight in the stretch after Ratangan.
Below lock 22 we had a slight delay, as there were two horses swimming by the jetty when we arrived. Their owners chased them over to the far bank, where they climbed out of the water safely, leaving the jetty clear.
There were several swimmers in this lock when we arrived, but they moved out for us to use the lock. There was a large family picnic by the lock, with over twenty people of all ages there. As I opened the first rack, it gave The Puzzler a nose wash. Perhaps I should have started with the ground paddle!

Another peaceful aqueduct mooring.

Sally and Shannon went swimming on the aqueduct. This was not Shannon's idea!

Shannon had no problem with hitching a ride.

However, as soon as she could, she swam for the shore!
At Lowtown it was left turn, back on to the Grand Canal. There are fewer boats here now, and the moorings are very smart, with water points and electricity on the jetties.

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