So we departed Ardreigh with the help of lock keeper Billy this time. We dropped down the lock & were now properly doing some river cruising. It was quite a breezy day so with a current quite different to canal cruising but nothing like riding the waves of Lough Derg last year thank God!
After Ardreigh Lock we just had Levitstown lift bridge & lock today as we passed Levitstown Mill. Levitstown Mill (former) is a fine and imposing stone building of the early nineteenth century that forms an imposing landmark in the locality. The building, although now disused, is of considerable social and historic importance for originally having served as the industrial centre in the region c.1820, with three-bay seven-storey side elevations to east and to west, single-bay two-storey return to rear to south and battlemented roof parapet. Disused, 1909. Burnt, 1943. Now in ruins.
The bridge at Levitstown is a rare example of a guillotine bridge. The platform rises vertically within a metal frame, unlike a swing bridge which moves horizontally or a drawbridge, which pivots about a hinge. The bridge is in good condition but is probably not of great antiquity, dating possibly from the early 20th century.
After Levitstown we approached Maganey Bridge our next stop. First we had to make sure we passed under the correct marked arch on the bridge (remember the green & red markers on the River Shannon & Lough Derg? Same colour coding used here).
Then we had the fun of mooring up. We needed to swing sharp left to get on the jetty & dependent on current we might have needed to turn the boat to be facing upstream to moor up. This is a common technique on river mooring so you’re not approaching the mooring at speed with the water flow with you you moor up against it slowly. However today we managed to get towards the jetty fine.
Now all may look normal from the photos above but they hide the problem that it was too shallow for Golden Boyz to get near. Now if you can imagine mum has to somehow get off to tie the boat up & normally we use planks but she has to put those out from an unsecured boat so it might move as she’s walking them. This is difficult enough on a canal but now we’re on moving water. Anyway after much shuffling up & down the gunwhales & 23 million attempts to lasso the mooring bollards Golden Boyz was tied up a distance from the bank. Now if the planks were put up to the jetty they were too steep to mum put them onto the jetty support so we had to step up & down to get on & off. I was very good at it but Daquiri wasn’t keen. Mum also looped a spare anchor warp through our plank loops & fastened it to the front of the boat so if the river went up or down our planks might fall in the water but they’d be attached to the boat so we wouldn’t lose them. As it happened it turned out we were most definitely sat on the bottom & we never moved an inch while we were there.
Although it was a lovely spot we had a really bad signal there so mum couldn’t do her work. We decided to still stay a few days though as mum had cycled to Carlow & its not such a good spot for us & of course we’re her top priority. It was glorious weather & we enjoyed lots of nice walkies & a BBQ. A lovely couple pulled up one night & moored with us who were on their first outing on a boat they’d just bought. They invited mum to join them for a wine or two.
Then Maganey Madness struck. Now the sun must have gone to mums head as she decided she’d go for her first wild Barrow River swim. We’re often in there but we have have furry coats. Mum deemed it invigorating & fecking freezing!!
After a lovely few days we untied & pulled in the planks & set off again with the help of Noel & Billy en route for Carlow. It was a gorgeous day & was stunning for cruising the River Barrow.
Today we just had 2 locks (meaning 2 weirs to avoid) & soon we were approaching Carlow town. We had to be mindful of all the rowing boats & canoes who were also out enjoying the good weather. The rule of thumb is powered craft ie us gives way to unpowered craft & we slow down passing them. With it being a rowing club we’re especially mindful that it could be a novice crew just learning & big a narrowboat cruising by might frighten some of them.
Billy really kindly met us at Carlow to help us tie up as its a very narrow mooring ledge plus he showed us where the tap was at the rowing club. Our mooring was basically up the side of the rowing club building. The other moorings on the park are too shallow for narrowboats & to be honest were packed with noisy youths almost all the time so we were in the best spot we could be.
Now although it wasn’t as picturesque a mooring on disembarkation side it was a lovely view up & down the river from the hatch & we had a good internet signal so Mum got loads of work done. Also we were right in a town with shops & takeaways & restaurants & cocktail bars!!!
Mum went off for a wander round Carlow to get herself oriented ie suss out the bars! On her way back she saw Cliff who runs the boat trips out of Carlow & Kilkenny passing by so she got a couple of good photos especially of them passing the huge Carlow weir that we have to cruise past when we next set off. So if anyone fancies a little trip up the Barrow check out Boat Trips Ireland
It wasn’t too bad here as once we’d got used to balancing along the ledge to get of the moorings we got nice walkies round the park. Mum was able to get some shopping done including getting a much sought after sink plunger as the bathroom sink was draining slowly & no amount of white wine vinegar & baking soda had worked. Well one plunge & we have a fully draining sink again!
Mum was also hitting the town whilst here with a night at the cinema & a tapas restaurant with a Bellini cocktail AND wine!! Then another afternoon off she trotted to try & sort an issue with her phone & to view the sensory gardens – did she do either NO – apparently it was deemed too hot to walk that far so she detoured to a terraced bar for a Romeo & Juliet & a Passionfruit Poptail!!!
Anyway she didn’t seem too drunk when she finally came back! The main reason we were in Carlow was mum had been texted for her 2nd covid jab so needed to get to Dublin for that. Unfortunately last time she had a really late appointment this time it was a really early appointment so we were horrifically woken at 5am & taken out for walkies. And you know the worst of it the park doesn’t even open till 7am so we only went to a nearby little patch of grass!!!!!