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, 2017 and 2018, returning to Roanne each winter.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Rosscore to Devenish. 14th to 21st May

We spent the next four days at Rosscor amidst the wind and rain. These families of goslings were introduced to the water at a dry moment.

On Tuesday we set off at 5am. It was just light enough to see the markers leading us out onto the Broad Lough, and rain was threatening. There was a slight southwesterly breeze, but stronger winds were forecast for later today, and for most of the week.

At first, we could see the famous Cliffs of Magho. (Lightened here so that you can see them in all their splendour!)

However, as we progressed along the south side of the Broad Lough, the cloud came down to cover the cliff tops, and we could also see torrential rain falling, on the north side of the lough, but fortunately it bypassed us.

Ten miles of open water seemed much further than that! We were relieved to reach Tully Castle mooring by 6-45am. There were two cruisers on the mooring, but there was plenty of room for us.
We walked through the woods to visit Tully Castle. This castle was built in 1613, but was then attacked and burnt in 1641. The herb garden is contained within a maze of hedges, in front of the castle.

There is not a lot to see through the windows!

Tully Castle mooring is very sheltered, with calm water, but these waves were rolling in, just round the corner.
We had a busy day on Thursday, first going round the headland into Tully Bay to fill up with water at the Carrickcraft hire base there. Our water tank was nearly empty, having wanted to keep the bows up for the journey along the Broad Lough. Then it was on a short sail to Drumcrow jetty for a walk along the bay. After lunch we sailed on to the southeast to Inishmacsaint Island. This is a very bleak mooring.

We walked up the hill to see Inishmacsaint Church and the Celtic Cross there.

Andy and Catkin went for a closer look at the Celtic cross, which dates from the 6th century.
The wind was now getting up, and the Inishmacsaint mooring is very exposed, so we carried on down the lough. Catkin was unimpressed at having to put her lifejacket on yet again! We sailed round Ross Point and into Cammagh Bay, a delightful secluded mooring, although it became quite windy overnight there.

Next day we sailed round to Carrickreagh, which is sheltered by islands, from the main lough. There is good walking there in the woods, up to a viewpoint over the lough.

It gives a wonderful view over the lake.

Strong winds being forecast for the next few days, we sailed back to Devenish Island on Saturday evening at 8pm. We passed the Lough Erne golfcourse, which was designed by Nick Faldo. The annual subscription here is £25,000.

The sky was very pretty on the way.

It took an hour to get to Devenish west mooring, in time to see a super sunset.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Belleek to Rosscor 9th - 14th May

We spent several days in Belleek, waiting for the wind to drop, so had time to see everything. Belleek is a border town, with the main part of the town being in Northern Ireland. It is not far from the Atlantic Ocean.

Sally is ready for our bike ride to visit the coast.

Belleek is only six miles from Ballyshannon harbour at Mall Quay, which used to be a thriving harbour, many years ago. Both sailing and steam ships came from Europe and the Americas. Timber, coal, coke, iron, slate, wine and china clay were imported while wool, leather and salted fish were exported during the great famine. Emigrants left from here for the New World.

This estuary leads out into Donegal Bay on the Atlantic Ocean. Andy is enjoying the sea air.
We cycled there along a really pretty back lane. We faced the wind on the way there, so it was an easy ride back. We passed this typical Irish bungalow, painted white, with a large lawn, but no flowerbeds. This seems to be the norm.

Belleek is at the end of navigation on the River Erne. The river bridge here is the border between North and South Ireland and is on the Donegal Corridor, along the River Erne, as used by the Flying Boats in the Second World War.

Yesterday a cruiser came into the harbour, so Sally asked them what the waves had been like on the Broad Lough. "Not too bad," was the reply. "Waves were only one metre." ONLY one metre? We do not plan to move just yet!

Belleek is well known for the Belleek Pottery, which is just north of the town bridge. We took the tour round the works and found it very interesting.

On Friday we moved round to the ex-hire base, which is nearer to the main road. Having bought a 20 litre plastic container, Andy was able to go to the garage for diesel. He was lent another container and also a wheelbarrow, which made it easier. This is the most economical way of getting diesel over here in Ireland.

We are still waiting for suitable weather to return to the other end of the Broad Lough, but decided to go nearer to the Lough itself. It was a lovely afternoon, with a following wind.

We sailed about three miles up River Erne to moor at Rosscor jetty, which is a delightful mooring not too far from the main lough. It is in an inlet off the main river, so is quite sheltered.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Lower Lough Erne to Belleek 30th April - 9th May

On leaving Enniskillen, we headed north on to Lower Lough Erne and moored on Devenish Island, on the West mooring. This is a T-shaped jetty, where there was room for us, as a broadbeam steel boat was just leaving. Two other cruisers arrived later on to join us on the mooring.

We walked up to see the ruins of St Mary’s Augustinian priory which was built in 1449. There were several different buildings and it was all in very good repair.

The Round Tower was very tall, and made me think of Rapunzel, sitting at the top window! We stayed on Devenish Island for two nights.

Although it was a little windy, we decided to set off. Now that we are on Lower Lough Erne, we are more restricted by the wind. The Puzzler goes through the waves well, as long as they are going the same way as us. We have to be careful to keep to the windward shore of the lough, wherever possible. It still seems a long way to the land as we pass Ardybeg point!

There are fewer large islands in the lower Lough, so the waves tend to build up more. We turned in behind Hay and Horse Islands into Rosslare bay. By the time we reached Inishclare harbour we were glad to be away from the white horses! This is a restaurant mooring, but it is closed on Monday and Tuesday, so it was very quiet.

Any closer to the wall outside the harbour and Sally would have been soaked by the

In the morning we sailed on, but pulled in to Rossigh mooring , a long jetty, to wait for the wind to abate. After lunch we set off again and had to go half way across the lough towards Owl Island, round marker 55J, in order to avoid the shallows.

The boat rolled a bit as we had to go broadside to the waves to make the turn.
Cruising on, we pass the red warning line on the charts. This states that “lake gets rough in strong winds north of this line”. We go on to the right, past Duross Point, and were glad to see the White Cairn marking the entrance to Castle Archdale harbour. This is a marina for private boats, but with a public jetty too. It is very sheltered.
A pleasant walk through the woods brought us to Castle Archdale, which was built in the 17th century. It was the station headquarters and officers billet of the wartime RAF base for Catalina and Sunderland aircraft. These were flying boats which went out into the Atlantic to combat German U-boats. There is a large caravan site on the old airfield below the castle.

The rhodedendrons are just starting to come into full bloom in the former gardens of Castle Archdale.

After staying overnight we sailed out on to the lough and briefly visited Davy’s Island, where some serious logging had been done. All the trees in the centre of this small island had been cut off at a height of 4 or 5 feet from the ground, presumably for timber. A ruined archway is really all that remains of an ancient church, but it is very neglected.

White Island, a little further on, is a complete contrast, with gleaming white stones on the ruins of the church. The White Island figures, mounted on an inner wall, are a unique group of 8 carved stones, which date from the 9th or 10th century.

We met the resident herd of cattle too, while exploring the island.

The weather improved during the day, so at 6pm we set off, going behind White Island, then taking the narrow channel behind Crevinishaughy and Cleenishgarve islands, to go round Gubbaroe Point on to the part of Lower Lough Erne, known as the Broad Lough.

The skies behind us were very threatening and it was pretty choppy, as we had to sail half a mile off shore, to avoid the rocks and small islands.

Catkin is getting very laid back about all these wide waters!

The goats seem very happy on Horse island, as we pass them. We are now going to the east towards Kesh River, and are sailing closer to the shore line.
We followed three pairs of markers, thinking we were heading for the Kesh River, and found a good jetty by a ruined castle. Pauline and Raymond came from their chalet to welcome us, and also to tell us that we were in fact now behind Rabbit Island, having turned off the lough more than two miles too soon! This is a new jetty, currently under development, and we stayed in this sheltered spot overnight.

Next morning we went back out round Rabbit Island and found another set of three markers, leading us in to Kesh River and so to Kesh village. The river is beautiful and is rather like a cross between the River Avon and the upper reaches of the River Thames, meandering through fields and wooded banks. There is just room to turn at Kesh, where the navigation ends at a weir under the town bridge.

We returned to the lough and sailed round the point to Mukros. Two men were swimming a horse there alongside the jetty. He did not seem too keen on this! There were three horses altogether, which were loaded into their horsebox, after cooling off.

This map shows the extent of Lower Lough Erne. Our journey tomorrow will take us the full length of the Broad Lough. We will sail from Mukros, which is near Kesh, in the east, to Castle Caldwell, which lies in the bay to the north of Belleek in the West.

At 6.30am on Saturday we set off down the Broad Lough, as the water was very calm. This did not last, however, and it became quite choppy, but not bad enough to turn back. We went to the inside of Lusty Beg Island, where it was very sheltered. After passing markers 61C3 and 61C4 it is a long, exposed run of three and a half miles straight along the North coast, just outside the shallow water markers. The cliffs of Magho, across the lough, are hidden by the mist.

The lough is then more sheltered as we pass several islands on the run in to Castle Caldwell mooring at the most north westerly part of the lough.

It is very pleasant walking in the woods on the Rossergole peninsula. The bluebells draw many walkers here, including friends, whom we had met at Keshgarrigan, and live nearby. They spotted us on the mooring, and came to visit.

The ruins of Castle Caldwell itself are completely overgrown with ivy.

Later in the evening the wind changed and really pushed the waves into our bay, as seen through the boat window.

Catkin found the wind a bit too much!

On Monday we decided the lough was calm enough for the sail round Eagle Point and on down the River Erne to Belleek. However, on passing the islands leading to the main lough, the wind got up and it became too rough to continue. The turn was quite exciting, and can be compared to riding a bucking horse in slow motion! We were glad to reach Castle Caldwell again safely. No photos possible as we were pitching and tossing too much!
We were collected by car and spent a very pleasant day at our friends' house in Garrison.

On our return to the boat the wind seemed to have abated, and the sky was clear, so we decided to set off again for Belleek.

As it was a shorter course, we checked our depth chart, then went to the right of Sam's Island. The depth should have been over 4 metres here, but we saw a rock which was only ten yards or so from our port side! We returned to the marked channel ASAP after the island!

We had not gone very far when we looked back to see these clouds, which were gaining on us.

The sky continued to blacken behind us as we headed east and it was quite a rough passage round the point.

Now, of course, having turned, we were heading westwards towards the rain. Did I say earlier that the Irish rain is soft? If so, I take it back! This rain was rather like needles, and hurt. It is a long way down the River Erne to Belleek, especially in torrential rain!

We were the only boat in the harbour, although there is room for about 20 boats. The evening rainbow was quite spectacular. It was wonderful to see after a difficult journey.