.After passing through Lancaster and its dark satanic mills, I decided that part of the best route to Blackpool would be along the lovely, tranquil Lancaster canal.
Yes, I appreciate that a canal isn’t a river but perlease, give me some artistic licence.
The Victorians were fabulous, weren’t they? Not least for providing me with miles of scenic towpath past, what could be best described as almost universally happy people.
A smile here, a smile there, a jaunty wave from a narrowboat, a cruiser, owners and holidaymakers alike – this was a great place to be.
I was shaded from much of the pounding heat by miles of tree hugged waterways – accompanied by the occasional bloop of a jumping fish or the buzz of a dragonfly.
Along the path I met a woman – we’ll call her Kate, she was tying her bike to her floating home – I asked her if this life in a narrowboat was all it was cracked up to be.
She assured me it was – but it took planning, ensuring there was wood for the winter, making sure she had access to a GP and the like.
Because she couldn’t afford the fancy dan mooring charges, she had to move along every 14 days…
‘It gives the dog somewhere new to go for a walk,’ she smiled.
I told her what I was about – she told me she was a recovering alcoholic – she’d been dry for 8 months – a fact that clearly delighted her.
She asked about donating to the ramble – I explained she could give online or, if she gave me money it would go to my day to day living.
Quick as a flash she thrust £20 into my hand.
I was surprised – she had herself – her dog and a barge to look after – she’d told me money was tight and here she was giving me…
I don’t often get flustered – but I did – I had so many questions to ask her, but instead, I buggered off.
I thanked her – and vanished off down the towpath.
I’m not usually prone to flusterment – but her generosity took me aback.
Further along I met a chap, Graham, sitting in the shade next to his magnificent narrowboat – I was met with the smile if a long lost friend and we just spent some time chatting.
To be fair, I grilled him about all things boaty.
He told me about the road tax they pay, where they get water, how the engine generates electricity….
He told me the Lancaster canal wasn’t part of the main canal system – and that he had to drive, er pilot, er coax? his boat across the river Ribble to enjoy that particular luxury.
‘What’s the boat like on the river?’ I asked
‘Shite!’ he exclaimed with a huge grin.
It turned out he was from Kettering – a town 8 miles from the place of my birth in Corby – he has a daughter that lives in Corby…we’re virtually neighbours…
I love this walk – people are fabulous – it’s amazing the skip in the step that a smile and a chat can give….
A bit further along, a man came out of his boat specifically to talk to me…
I was a bit unsure – he was so friendly – so direct – did he have a friend standing behind me?
We’ll find out tomorrow….
Walk a mile