Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Piel Ferry

click photo to enlarge
A chieftain to the Highlands bound,
Cries, "Boatman, do not tarry!
And I'll give thee a silver pound
To row us o'er the ferry!"

Many readers "of a certain age" will recognise the stirring opening verse of Thomas Campbell's poem "Lord Ullin's Daughter". It came to mind, having lain dormant since my schooldays, as I looked at the photograph above. However, this ferry is not in the Highlands. It has just travelled from Piel Island near Barrow-in-Furness and is landing at nearby Roa Island. And fortunately the boatman did not have to bend his back to the oars: a marine diesel helped him across the incoming tide in the Walney Channel. Piel Island is only a few acres in extent and comprises the ruins of a medieval castle, a pub and a few houses. It makes a fine sight located between Roa and Walney Island.

The ferry is the only means of getting to Piel Island, and it takes passengers to and fro as demand dictates. The building on legs beyond is a new RNLI lifeboat station. These two form the subject of my photograph and give interest to the foreground and background. Getting balance in the composition was quite difficult given the strong diagonals, so I put the ferry to the right of the frame. The pile of life-belts and the red coat of one of the passengers are welcome and important points of colour in this predominantly blue/grey scene. I was pleased to be able to capture this scene that must have been played out since the time Piel Castle was built in the fourteenth century. Long may the ferry continue to cross the water.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen