The sound of leather against willow on a summer Saturday afternoon and a walk along the Lancaster Canal from Tythebarn House B&B in Holme has a nostalgic feel to it. Over the hedge are the cricketers, distinctive in white and cheering each other on to victory. Just some of the canal-side characters we have here in Holme.
In days gone by the local characters would be seen on the canal as well as beside it. As a corridor for trade between Lancaster and Kendal it was a busy stretch especially around Holme Mills where coconut matting, and later Goodacre Carpet, was manufactured. A ring tie along the way is a reminder of those times when a boat would have moored up. Their horse tethered, with nosebag attached, to rest awhile .
An unusual sight in today’s world you would think, but further along these two are often seen, tethered in the old way with leather strap, rope and post; munching away on a patch of grass on or near to the canal. Guests who come across them can feel a little nervous, but they are a friendly pair give passers-by an easy-going nod of acknowledgement between mouthfuls.
With just a little imagination it is easy to conjure up a picture of barge-men and their animals. Maybe with a cat or two on board, to keep the mice away.
Today Mr Tom Cat loves to patrol his patch, keeping an eye on things, especially those hens just a stretch of water away over on the other side.
I wonder if barge-men would have bartered lumps of coal for local eggs as they slid by. Today it’s half a dozen eggs in exchange for a pound coin, left in the blue ‘honesty box’ not far from bridge 152.
With no boats along our stretch of the canal it is now a place of peace and tranquility, a haven for wildlife, where locals exercise their dogs and boys hope to catch a fish or two.
For us it is a favourite route to the allotment or the place for a quiet evening stroll. For guests it is an early morning peep before breakfast to capture the essence of Holme on camera before moving on. For walkers it is a stretch of the and Wainwright’s Way, with glimpses of Lake District fells in the distance. For all of us it is a place of peace and tranquility, to muse on times gone by and be thankful for today.
Tythebarn House B&B is close by, it’s just a few steps from our door to the canal towpath. Guests are often surprised and always pleased to discover this bonus to their overnight stop. Just expecting a place to put their head for the night, there is so much more to discover right on our doorstep.
More Tales from the Canal Bank
Photos by Diana Brown