TRIBUTES are continuing to be paid today (Thursday) following the death of a former Lake District guest house owner.

Michael Holgate died after banging his head on a low tunnel while relaxing on a barge with his family. 

It is believed he struck his head while travelling in a narrowboat in the Harecastle Tunnel along a stretch of the Trent and Mersey Canal in Kidsgrove, Staffordshire, on Tuesday afternoon.

The 58-year-old father-of-four used to run the Green Gables guest house in Windermere with his wife Susan.

She spent two hours searching for him but as it was pitch black she was unable to find him. Specialist police divers conducted an 11 hour underwater search before his body was recovered.


Comments on the Gazette's Facebook page pay tribute to Mr Holgate.

"Really sorry to hear this - much love to the Holgates," said Clarity Rose.

Nigel Atkinson added: "So sad, what a fantastic bloke, made a difference to many, sadly missed."

And Pippa Wilson added her thoughts: "Awful - I've been thinking about poor Susan all afternoon.

"It took them so long to sell their house and were so looking forward to their new life on the boat. He was such a lovely man and a very good neighbour."

In a statement released yesterday (Wednesday), his family said: "Michael was an experienced boat handler who after retiring followed his lifelong dream of moving onto his narrowboat with wife of 32 years Susan.

"After travelling around the UK they were making their way north to attend his brother's wedding in June.

"In a tragic accident in the cramped Harecastle tunnel Mike banged his head and fell into the canal.

"Susan tried in vain in pitch black conditions to locate Mike, but after over two hours she had to get out and raise the alarm.

 "Mike was a loving husband and an amazing father of to four boys Anthony, 44, Arthur, 27, George, 25, Peter, 22.

"He leaves behind a very proud family who will miss him sorely.

"This is a very distressing time for the family as Susan and Mike planned to live out the rest of their lives on the canals together."