British Rowing Tour visits the Lancaster Canal

The annual British Rowing Tour was a great success with 65 rowers from 13 different rowing clubs exploring the Lancaster Canal last month

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Rowers from the British Rowing Tour line up

The 24th British Rowing Tour took place over three days with participants rowing 40 miles in stable coxed quads from Preston to Tewitfield at the end of August.

Broxbourne rower, Rose Murphy, joined the British Rowing Tour for the first time, making many new friends on the trip. She recalls her highlights below.

“When I signed up for the learn-to-row course a year and a half ago, I could never have imagined that it would culminate in an adventure on the beautiful Lancaster Canal.

“I was slightly apprehensive beforehand but my first glimpse of the canal at Preston reassured me. My next thought was, ‘Can I go the distance?’. I needn’t have worried, everything was meticulously planned and I had friends on hand to guide and support me.

“The scenery on route was spectacular. My favourite spots were the stretches of river shaded by trees.

The picturesque Lancaster Canal

“The views of Morecambe Bay were really stunning, the colours changing as our viewpoint moved. When we rowed over the Lune Aqueduct I declined to stand up to take in the views from the boat – it was daring enough for me to peep through the balustrades.

“So what were the challenges along the course? Some areas are very overgrown and we enjoyed the swooshing sounds of our blades through the reeds and waterlilies. Less enjoyable were the times we got stuck in trees trying to avoid other water users.

“Other parts of the canal are wider, giving us a chance to build up speed, but we still needed to watch out for barges and cruisers. We went through over a hundred narrow bridges. The preferred technique is to gather speed by rowing firm up to the bridge, ship oars and glide through while balancing the boat as carefully as possible.

Negotiating one of the many bridges along the way

“We also learnt about the history of the canal from Robin Yates, Chairman of the Lancaster Canal Trust, and could appreciate the workmanship of the bridges. It is sobering to think of the effort that has gone into digging the canal and I felt privileged to be enjoying it long after its working life is over.

“When I signed up for the learn-to-row course a year and a half ago, I never dreamed it would culminate in an adventure on the beautiful Lancaster Canal”

“Rowing takes you up close and personal with nature and our cox, Noelle, was quite an authority on wildlife. I now know the names of many more trees, plants and birds than I did at the start of the tour. We even saw a bat flitting about in broad daylight and alpacas in a field.

“The weather smiled on us, as did the people of Lancaster. We were the centre of attention with cheery waves from the banks and enquiries of ‘What’s it in aid of?’ We could truthfully reply, ‘Fun.’

“From the Lansil Golf Club in Lancaster who allowed us to leave our boats there overnight, to the landlady at the Hest Bank Inn, near Morecambe, who also enabled us to use the facilities when we moored, we were met with kindness at every turn. The organisation of the tour was a masterpiece – thank you Peter Barker.”

The 2018 British Rowing Tour will be on the Thames, possibly upstream of Oxford to Henley in late summer. You can find out more by emailing John and Caroline Turnbull at weyfarers@aol.com