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A New Chapter !!

So a new chapter begins.

So what do you do if you can’t afford your own sailing boat ? Go sailing with other people on theirs.

What if you can’t always find the right trips to the destinations and for the durations you want ?

What if you’ve become a little tired of those train journeys to the airport ? Of sitting around in departure lounges ? Wondering what the next boat/people are going to be like ?

Something had to change as i wanted to have my own ‘something’ – my own ‘somewhere’.

I pondered buying a campervan and an extended tour of Europe/Scandinavia. But i knew i had to be near the water – somewhere.

I started looking at adverts for narrowboats, something which i had done before. I had been on narrowboat holidays before many years ago, my parents had been on many of them.

Well, to cut a long story short, i bought a 40ft narrow boat mid July 2019. It was in good condition, only been used for short trips and used as a weekend hideaway. It had lived on the rivers of the East Anglian waterways and had never yet seen the canals. (Boats tend to get bashed up on the canals !)

So ten tonnes of steel to drive around in at a leisurely pace of 4 mph. No strong currents, no high/low tides, no gale force scenarios to worry about (hopefully).

40ft Narrow Boat
Narrow Boat
Emptying whatever i currently owned at the time into my boat………
Interior Narrow Boat
Came fully equipped with fridge freezer, full size cooker, sinks, cupboards,etc,etc…….

When i purchased the boat the paint was a little dull and was in need of some renovation. Many hours of elbow grease and strong polish later it was looking good !!

Polished narrow boat

Little Wing was now nice and shiny and ready for a new adventure !!

The boat is normally moored in Cambridgeshire on a quiet stretch of the Great Ouse river. Enjoying a beer in the evening……….

On the cut.......

Its a very quiet beautiful place, theres a nature reserve only a hundred yards away called Wicken Fen. It was the first ever nature reserve owned by the National Trust. Apparantly very well known and all of the well known wildlife presenters have been there.

Burwell lode
Looking the other way from my mooring…………..
Burwell lode
A bit narrow what with all the new reeds but managable (unless you meet another boat !)

After finding out how everything worked I headed out for my first solo trip.

The weather looked reasonable so i embarked on a short 3 day trip to Ely in Cambridgeshire, home to a fantastic cathederal, a lovely riverside setting, and a few good pubs – bliss. .

Approaching Ely with the cathedral in the distance………

Entering Ely with the well known Cutter Inn on the left hand side.

Ely Cambridgeshire

The amazing Ely Cathedral, such a huge size for a small town. The present building dates back to AD1083 but there was an origjnal church abbey that was built in AD672. Apparantly the inside is even more amazing with fantastic painted ceilings and decorative finishings. Something to see next time i visit !

Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral

It was a successful first trip out despite the fact that the weather changed and i had a brake down on the way home. The alternator belt snapped when i was trying to beat the rain home, so had to change it standing in the engine bay with the rain beating down on me !! Still came back to my mooring with a smile on my face so it was a good start !! Only about 20 miles, three days, 2 locks, one alternator belt, a load of rain but a load of fun !!

Always enjoy the views and sunsets……….

Sunset narrow boat holiday

Touring The Outer Hebrides

After my boat tour out of Oban i had already decided to go on a tour of the Outer Hebrides. I left Oban and headed for the Isle Of Skye where i could catch a ferry. The ferry network is very good and reasonably priced, its a necessity for people living out there so i believe its subsidised by the government.

Arriving in Uig i managed to buy a standby ticket for the ferry to Stornaway. This was at the end of September so if you do this in the summer definitely book your tickets in advance !

After a 2 hour ferry ride you arrive in the port of Tarbert on the Isle Of Harris. There really isn’t very much in Tarbert apart from a couple of local shops and a small hotel with a bar. You are better off moving on and finding accomodation elsewhere.

Waiting on the jetty for the ferry……
The ferry leaving Uig heading to Tarbert.

Lews Castle is to be found west of the town of Stornoway. It was built between 1844-1851 for Sir James Matheson, a man who had made his fortune from the Chinese opium trade.

Leaving Stornaway i headed north and you don’t have to go far before finding a big golden beach. Take any side road and you will soon find the sea.

There are plenty of spotless golden beaches to be found. You might find you are the only one there !!

As this is Scotland you do find the odd stubborn local. This guy really didn’t want to move !!

The locals really don’t budge for anybody……….

I drover further north up the coast all the way to the Butt Of Lewis lighthouse, on the northern most tip of the Isle of Lewis. Its a very rugged coastline usually getting battered by the weather.

Because of the unpredictable weather you’re never far away from seeing a rainbow, usually more than one in the same day !!

Many lonely roads lead to another beach……

Whilst waiting for the ferry to Barra i went for a little walk on the nearside beach…….

Waiting for the ferry to Barra

Apparently the airport at Barra is the only one of its kind. The tidal beach doubles up as the runway strip ! Obviously the flight times here are controlled by more than the weather !

The beach at Barra
A homestead on Barra
The beach………and landing strip at Barra. Passengers cross the beach to board the plane.

The weather can turn very quickly in the outer Hebrides – especially toward the end of September. The local wildlife don’t seem to mind !

More stubborn locals…….

I stayed in a hostel in Barra for a few nights as the weather got so bad the ferries didn’t run for a couple of days.

The castle in the bay, you can get a small boat to take you there – if the weathers good !

After a great tour of the Outer Hebrides i got the ferry back to the mainland. Arriving back in Uig i was met by the sunshine –

Sunset over Uig whilst staying at the excellent Cow Shed hostel.

Driving down through Skye i went to the small village of Elgol on the south coast. Its here you can go on small boat tours around the local lochs and view the Cuillin Hills. I came here because i was here about 40 years ago on a holiday. Some friends of the family own a house on the neighbouring island of Soay. Sadly the boat trips don’t go over to Soay but i could see it in the distance.

Looking out from Elgol across the the Isle Of Soay…….

I left Elgol and started my drive back home. Wildlife is never far away in Scotland –

I actually did this trip back in September/October last year and forgot to write it up. Apologies if its rather patchy as i can’t remember the exact route i took nor all the details of it !

Hopefully the photos tell you of what a wonderful place it is – you really must go there !