Monday, August 24, 2015

Going South

We left Belturbet to the sound of a power washer on the jetties opposite, the ones that used to belong to Emerald Star and are now a private marina. A very loud power washer. So loud it made us leave before breakfast. We wound our way up the River Erne to the junction where right takes you to Crom Castle and beyond and left takes you back to the Shannon-Erne Waterway. We were tempted by Crom. The sun was shining, and we sort of had time, but we resisted and turned left.

I dropped Joe at Ballyconnell where a bus would take him back to Belturbet and the car, and met him again at the next lock - didn't fancy trying a lock on my own, though I suppose it's feasible as they have ladders. Then it was on to Garadice Lough and Haughton's Shore. Joe took the car again. Last time we'd stopped in Haughton's Shore in vile weather it was full and we had to tie off someone else. This time it was earlier in the week and earlier in the day.

Joe phoned to say there was one space left. The pressure was on. I fretted all the way along the Woodford River. As I approached the final bridge before the turn into the harbour a hire boat came towards me. Did this mean it was already full? Damn.

It didn't. My space was still there. In we slipped, Winter Solstice and I. Then it was car to Ballinamore for the next stage, bikes on the back for the return cycle. I was hoping I'd make it OK as I've had this wretched knee ligament injury.

I did. Joy! Only a bit of rain. No wind. And photo op as we neared home - Garadice in the evening.

Actually Joe had the photo idea first.

And here we are back at the boat.

Next morning we woke to thick fog, but you could see the sun was going to burn it off. We left as soon as we could see well enough and crossed the flat calm lake. And into the gorgeous Woodford River again.

A land of kingfisthers and high tree-lined banks.

This was at Lock 5 - Ardrum - a very deep lock. It was good to come up out of it and see daylight again.

A hot day. Unbelievable. This called for an anchor drop for lunch. There's a small lake called Kiltybarden just off St John's Lough south of Ballinamore. It takes a small leap of faith (well, tiny really) to find it - I called for back-up from the crew who wasn't impressed as he was scraping paint off the deck (a very long-term project) and couldn't see what the fuss was about. 'There's the markers' (you eejit was implied). 'Wrong markers though!' I could say in triumph. 'That's the way we came.'

We found it easily enough really, but turned and came back to a little spot between St John's and Kiltybarden where it was sunny and sheltered.

And I had my first swim! What bravery, swimming off the boat in weather that, although warm, was certainly not sweltering. Down the ladder into the black depths, kicking off into the freezing waters, barely surviving the temperature. Ahem. Get a grip here. And admit. I put on the wet suit. Yes I know that's pathetic, and I only did it because there was no-one around to see except the crew and the dog. But at least I got into the water.

Next stop Keshcarrigan. This time I got a photo of this lad:

Isn't he magnificent?

This tells you all you need to know:

We left the boat in Drumsna for a couple of days. Back tomorrow for the next stage back to Lough Derg.

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