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.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

8th - 16th September. From Trial Bay to Enniskillen via Upper Lougnh Erne.

Time to cut some more wood. This tree has lain here beside the Woodford River ever since April 2011, so was overdue for removal!
To get the bows on to a safe access for wood collecting, we tied up with the stern temporarily half way across the river. This did slow the hireboats down! Boaters familiar with the Shannon-Erne should be able to work out where we are.

There always seems to be a rainbow at Derryvore, in Trial Bay. Could this be because it always rains when we are on this mooring?
We wait until Monday evening to move on, as the weather all day has not been good, with a lot of rain. The sky is still threatening, but if we do not go a few miles tonight, then it makes tomorrow a very long day.
The sky is lightening as we turn on to Upper Lough Erne. This photo was taken only six minutes after the last one, (no editing) showing how quickly the weather can change here in Ireland.

In the morning at Geaglum.

Some of our newly collected wood is inside the cratch, but most is on top, as seen here at Geaglum.

There were over 25 birds on the pulpit of Inishturk, across the bay.

Moving on, we sail under the Viaduct, which is the main route between Derrylin and Lisknaskea.

Even though it is quite late in the year, the reeds along the sides of Upper Lough Erne are still as attractive as ever.

Last year these markers were nearly under water, when we came this way in late October.

The old railway pillars on the approach to the Ardhowen Theatre mooring tell us that we are nearly back at Enniskillen.

Enniskillen Castle looms majestically ahead of The Puzzler.

At the Round "O" all the ducks, swans and geese are back too for the winter.
"Down at the harbour,
 Early in the morning,
 Two little tug boats,
 All in a row".
Can anyone else remember this ditty from our childhood?

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

2nd - 7th September. Back down the Lough Allen Canal to Leitrim, then across the Shannon-Erne Waterway through Lough Garadice and on to Aghalane.

We had to wait quite a while at Drumleague Lock as the lockkeeper was busy at Drumshanbo lock. We were considering working the lock ourselves when he arrived, so asked if that would have been OK.            "Definitely not" was the reply! He might have been quite upset if we had already done so!
Hazard ahead! We were just deciding how fast to push this fishing boat out of our way, above Battlebridge lock, when it was pulled in to the side. There was to be duck racing here this afternoon, with the lock sluices being opened to create a flow on the canal. Plastic ducks, by the way!

We turned left to go through Leitrim, and on to the Shannon Erne Waterway. The byflow below the Tirmactiernan lock (lock 15) is always an attractive spot.

At Lisconor lock (lock 12), we caught up with two penichette hire boats which were sharing the lock. It was quite a tight fit for them.
Boat crews walk between locks 11, 10 and 9 as these three locks are close together. Once The Puzzler was safely coming up in lock 10, Sally walked on to lock 9, ready to empty it, as soon as the penichettes had gone, so that Andy did not have to wait when he got there. Andy was to open the top gates of lock 10, once the lock was full, and sail round the corner to lock 9. This stone boat is just below lock 9, and is an interesting sculpture. After preparing the lock, Sally looked at this boat for some time, before returning down the canal to see The Puzzler still in lock 10, with the gates open, but with no sign of anyone on board. Was this cause for concern?
However, as Sally approached the lock, Andy emerged from The Puzzler with two ladies. She was told that they had shown great interest and had been having a guided tour of the boat! As they too were going to Keshcarrigan, they sailed on with us, and were kind enough to bring us some fresh vegetables later on, which were much appreciated.

 It was nice to meet John and Bill again on Celtic Duke at Keshcarrigan. We last met them on Lough Ree, over a year ago.

The sky was different yet again today.
Castlefore lock, has no walkway over the top gates and this makes the lock look rather incomplete.This is the first of eight locks which take us down to Upper Lough Erne. For new viewers of our blog, the control panel in the foreground is the push button method of working the lock. No heavy paddles to wind here!

The Shannon Erne is a waterway with many different parts, narrowing in places through the trees.

Just round the next corner it opens out again into St. John’s Lough.

The reflections are excellent by bridge 18.

The Shannon Erne is certainly scenic, here above Ballyduff Lock.
Church Island looms ahead of us on Garadice Lough. We hope that the old mooring on the far side of the island is free.

We are in luck! This isolated island mooring is one of our favourites.
Next it is on to Haughton’s Shore, where we are having our new cratch cover fitted. These nomadic craftspeople are a real asset to Ireland. Their canine crew is waiting to board.

When we were here last autumn, this jetty below Skelan Lock was completely under water.

This herd of Friesian cattle must be expecting rain.

By bridge 26 a cat is watching the world pass by. This mooring is now in use again.

The bottom walkway at Corraquil lock makes a good picture frame!
Click on this photo to see the brilliant green on the trees in the distance. It is a shame that we have lost the sun on the jetty at Aghalane so early.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

1st - 3rd September. On up The River Shannon, then the Lough Allen canal to Acres Lake.

On our way up the River Shannon, the waves were rolling down the river towards us, which was not very comfortable for The Puzzler.

At the approach to Leitrim, it was off to the left to continue on up the Shannon River.

The lock at Battlebridge is the start of the Lough Allen canal. The River Shannon is to our left, having flowed parallel to the canal from Lough Allen.
On the opposite bank can be seen a permanent campsite, with camping huts as well as tents. We were told that this is the only campsite in Ireland to remain open for the whole year, in both summer and winter.

The water on this canal is very brown from the peat, filling Battlebridge lock through the high gate paddles.

Above Battlebridge lock the canal is very peaceful as it continues through the trees.

Sailing on towards Drumleague lock, Slieve Aneirin can be seen in the distance.

The scenery by the canal is changing as we climb, and is more open, with moorland around us.
Yes, it is that time of the year again! Andy spotted this branch when we were up this way in early May, so it is out with the chain saw to help clear the towpath of unwanted wood.

Out with the axe too!

On the approach to Acres Lake, Slieve Aneurin does not look any closer than before.
There is room at Acres Lake for a lot of boats, but there were only two of us there this time. We are told that the busy time here is during the Drumshanbo Music Festival in July.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

28th - 31st August. Derryvunny again, then back to Carrick.

On our return down Lough Key to Derryvunny, we were again impressed with the remoteness of this jetty.

The evening view across Lough Key from Derryvunny is wonderful.
Next morning, however, the wind was getting up, so an early start seemed a good idea. The wind can increase very quickly on Lough Key, and The Puzzler was not built for high wind on open water. We sailed on to Clarendon Lock, to await the lockkeeper's arrival.
Further on, at Knockvicar, this strange vessel came past us, looking like an insect on the water! His floats are designed to help him when he is putting out new markers.

To get through Knockvicar Bridge he had to fold his floats up very high.

The next boat past was an extremely fast hire boat, which had obviously not realised what damage his wash can do to moored boats.

This time we were not the only boat to stick out past the end of the finger jetties in Carrick-on-Shannon.