After mooching about Great Haywood for days waiting for the monsoon to end, I finally got moving on Saturday. It wasn’t ideal as it was drizzly and breezy but loads better than Sunday so we headed for Penkridge.
It was a hard trip. I was following 2 other boats through deep locks with nothing coming in the other direction, which means that once the boat in front has gone through, the water level in the lock is high. I then have to let all the water out again so that I can get my boat in and then fill it again. Basically it means twice the work. If a boat is coming in the other direction then their crew will do the work of emptying it to let their boat down. Sorry if that is blindingly obvious but there are some non boater readers of this blog!
What made it even harder work was that the boat in front was crewed by a couple who seemed to think that it was my duty to work their lock for them. Now most reasonable boaters will wander up to the lock and help the one in front – otherwise you are just standing by your boat waiting. (Although I have seen some of those – too posh to help boaters who stand holding the rope of the boat as an excuse not to help, rather than using the lock bollards designed for the purpose!)
But this couple just sat looking helpless! I did the first 3 locks for them and as they departed the lock they didn’t once say thanks, just – ‘see you at the next one’! What redeemed the day was the lady in the boat behind me who helped me through each lock and even helped the ones in front of me. By the 5th lock I had decided to be a little slow in going up to the lock with the hope that the couple in front would take the hint and do the work themselves. Unfortunately my lovely lady behind went and helped them!
By the time I got to Penkridge I was aching in muscles I didn’t even know I had! I had hoped to get to Gailey Wharf but I had no energy left and so tied up at the edge of the village.
The next day, miracles of miracles, the sun made an appearance! I didn’t want to waste the opportunity of dry cruising and so took Bon on an early, short walk and then started cruising at 7.30am. Things are so much better when the sun shines! We had 7 deepish locks to tackle but it didn’t seem such hard work, even though after the first one I was again following another boat and so had to reset the locks. I rested for 20 min at Gailey – the top of the lock flight – enough time for a tea and a wee! then on again on our longest cruising day yet. 7 hours after starting we tied up on my, so far, favourite canal – the Shropshire Union. There is a lovely mooring between bridges 7 and 8 – broad grassy towpath, fields on both sides and, thanks to the Shropshire Union canal society, mooring rings! Also good TV, phone and internet reception and that is where I am writing this from. We will stay here for a couple of days to recover. The backs of my legs are the most stiff after climbing all those lock ladders – 13 in two days.
Mind you, I will need to exercise those muscles because further up this canal there is a lock flight with 15 locks one after the other! I really feel we are on our adventure now, even if today the weather has reverted to yuck!