Little J’s Green Boat

Hello Everyone. Hope you are all well? I am here by popular request today to show and tell you more about our narrowboat holiday.

I thought I would start at the beginning with the actual boat. Here it is… or I should probably say here she is (boats are always “she”s aren’t they??)… (Apologies in advance Grandma P!)

Yes, she is called Savoy Hill. Not a strictly traditional/historical boat but definitely very functional for holidaying purposes. There’s Grandma P making the most of a very rare moment of peace, quiet and sunshine. Mr P is at the tiller (the stick wot you use to drive it wiv).

Here’s a view from the back (technically the stern… I think?)…

You can see a little bit of traditional canal boat decoration on the side hatch and the doors at the back. Roses and castles were painted on working boats by their owners… beautiful things they aspired to. On the far left of this picture you can see the lock we are about to go into. I’m going to explain this carefully as requested.. A lock is a method for making a canal go up and down a hill…. sort of stairs for canals. In this photo you can see the locks in front of the boat. We are at the lower side of the lock and are going to go up. This part of the Trent and Mersey Canal has pairs of narrow locks… you can see the second of the pair to the right of the picture. (Other parts of the canal system in the UK have different sizes/lengths of locks.)

The boat goes in at the bottom when the lock is empty. Grandad P and I (designated lock operators on our boat) open the gates to let the boat in then close them afterwards. We move to the other end of the lock and use our windlasses (the “tool” from my last post) to open the paddles in the upper lock gates. The paddles are like little doors in the gates which let the water from above the lock flood into the lock which then causes the boat to rise. Here’s Savoy Hill inside a lock…

You can see the lock is pretty empty and the water is rushing and bubbling in at the bottom of the picture. In the top left you can see someone using their windlass to close the paddles on the gates of the other lock). It can be pretty strenuous work to open/close the paddles. The gates can be heavy too but the best thing with them is to lean your body weight on them until they are ready to move – you can feel them give and you know its time to open them. Lots of eager pushing and pulling is not necessary, just use of your body weight. Once the water inside the lock has reached the same level as the canal on the upper side of the lock the gates will open and the boat can float out and continue its journey.

There are other highlights along the canals too. I mentioned the Anderton Boat Lift in my last post – I might do a separate post about that. Here’s another exciting highlight of this trip… the Harecastle Tunnel….

Its the second longest canal tunnel in the UK and takes 30-40 minutes to travel through on a boat (bear in mind that narrowboats don’t go very fast at all). Because its a long one there are tunnel managers at each end and boats are only allowed through at certain times because there is no room to pass once inside. Harecastle is also interesting because at one end there are doors which close after you enter to allow the ventilation fans to start so the tunnel doesn’t get clogged with exhaust fumes. So in one direction you get shut in and in the other direction you literally can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel!!!!! Here it is though…

I don’t know if its just us, or if everyone does it but we always sing in canal tunnels… very loudly!! It sounds great. But I am sure that the people at the other end can hear us long before we get there and must be laughing their socks off at our terrible singing. This was confirmed on our return trip through the Harecastle Tunnel this year. We came out of the end to find the tunnel manager creased up with laughter at our interpretation of The Muppets “Mahna Mahna” *blushes and giggles*.

Wonder what songs we entertained this audience with????


30 thoughts on “Little J’s Green Boat

  1. Thank you so much for this post! My Dad and I was at Molesey Lock near Hampton Court yesterday and we couldn’t work out the purpose of a lock. I also mistakenly called the locks Houseboats. Oops. Your post was extremely helpfull, and very entertaining. Thanks, Natasja + Dad.

    • You are very welcome Natasja and Dad 😉 I have spent so much time on the canals it’s very normal and ordinary to me and I forget other people don’t know very much about it and might be interested!

  2. Beautiful photos! (And is that you sitting at the front with a crochet hook in your hand?) 🙂
    We did a barging holiday in France a few years ago (12 already – gak!), on the canal du Midi. Was awesome!!! Would love to do it again one day.

  3. We took the children canoeing in Wales during the summer and loved seeing the narrow bots going through the locks, though obviously we lifted the canoes out and walked round!

  4. What an awesome you must have had, it looks so much fun, really takes me back to when I was a kid and my parents used to take us – you know, I have a couple of very funny memories about narrow boats, one where I fell in of course, and the other thing I remember is our journey down one year and the death of Elvis being announced on the radio – what a weird thing to remember!!! I would love to take our kids on a narrow boat, I think the little pickle is too young at the mo though, how old were yours when you first took them and could they swim well?

  5. Lol! No one has fallen in…YET! Big J is now 8 and Little J is nearly 5. But I think we first went when they were 4 and nearly 1. We have always made sure they wear their life jackets/buoyancy aids if they are on deck. Little J can’t swim yet but Big J has just learned this year. We have always kept a close eye on them on the boat and this is partly why Grandma and Grandad come with us. The majority of the canal is pretty shallow but even so it’s better to be extra careful.

    • Wow, 1 & 4, I’m so impressed, I’m not sure my jangly nerves could take it!!! Although, having said that, I reckon I could have done it when my older two were young, but our littlest one is quite the daredevil!

      • The youngest didn’t crawl, he bottom shuffled, and didn’t walk till almost 2 so I guess that helped. Think we have just been very lucky that no one has fallen in lol! Big J is quite boisterous and clumsy but maybe he has more sense than I credit him with!!

  6. Trish, I am absolutely fascinated with this post. The long narrow boat, narrow canals, locks/stairs are fantastic. Very different to our canals and boating holidays in Australia. I think I’ll add it to my bucket list. Thanks so much for sharing. Amy x

  7. oh what a lovely post – what a lovely holiday! i’m just catching up, so i’ll read on…

    i’ve only been on a narrowboat holiday once – it was a bit tricky with 2 nervous collies, but i absolutely loved it. apart from when my dad was steering us into the locks :/

    • The thing is… Because they only go slowly, you can only crash slowly. Not sure if that’s worse or better!! Mr P used to have a cat when he lived on his boat… She always jumped off at the wrong moment!!

  8. This has to be the perfect holiday for your boys 🙂 I remember going on the Norfolk Broads when I was about the same age on a hired boat. My Grandparents came too. Thanks for stirring up the memories.

  9. Pingback: Intrepid Nessie Hunting. | madebypatch

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