I have done 20 locks since I last wrote and the sense of achievement, coupled with an improved weather forecast has lifted my mood.
Mind you I am currently walking like a jockey! Some of the paddles were unbelievably stiff and the top gates have taken all my strength to open. I am also having continuing problems with the positioning of the lock ladders.
I need to use them because these locks are all averaging 9 feet in depth, but on this last stretch the locks have only had one ladder, helpfully positioned about 2 feet past the back of my boat! I frightened the pants off a following hire boat crew when I took a flying leap to grab the ladder in the first of yesterday’s locks! Not the safest way of doing it, so I have been experimenting and have found that I can bring the boat to a halt with my stern at the ladder. As I get onto the ladder, I can knock my boat into gear so she carries on on her own to come to rest on the top gate as usual. Because she is starting from being still, she doesn’t build up enough speed to clout the top gates, she just kisses them! I just have to make sure I don’t slip on the ladder as the boat has left me and I’m dangling over the water!
It is climbing the ladders that causes most of my stiff leg muscles by the end of the day. My arms hold up surprisingly well, considering all the winding of paddles and pulling on gates I am doing. I also have real calluses on the palms of my hands now from handling the ropes and windlass. I can’t remember the last time I felt this fit and physically capable – not bad for an old bird in her 50’s!
I have found the first mooring rings since I entered the Trent and Mersey and am moored at Church Lawton. It isn’t particularly quiet (although less noisy than yesterday’s mooring near the M6!) but makes up for it by having some lovely walks round a lake in the woods. Tomorrow I leave the Trent and Mersey (without shedding a tear!) and enter the Macclesfield Canal. This is the canal I had always planned on visiting and I am so looking forward to it. not least because in its 28 miles length there are only 13 locks and all but one of these are gathered in one flight!
Here is a picture of my poor sorely leg a week on, bruised from knee to ankle…