Sunday, 13 March 2011

A Bad Road ...... but a Great Day!

After our visit to Rowington Church we set off once again
The strata here fascinated me - the layer of sediment near the top has not allowed the tree roots to penetrate, you can see them 'lying' across it.
Into Shrewley Tunnel - Seyella ahead of us
Excess water drains from the towpath tunnel above 
This was by far the wettest tunnel yet - it actually 'pours' in!
Into the daylight again
A long line of narrowboats here ...
... at .... a yacht club?  No sign of any here ...
... only the dating doctor!
3.5 miles to Warwick,116.5 to the River Thames our ultimate destination!
The uninspiring view from our mooring point at the head of Hatton Locks
I am currently thoroughly enjoying reading 'Windlass in My Belt - a canal adolescence' by John Thorpe 
(An autobiographical and evocative tale of a young boy's journey into manhood set against the background of manily the Midland canal system in the late 1950's and 60's) (loaned to me by Geoff on Narrowboat Seyella - thanks Geoff) and as Hatton features frequently in the book I tried to 'see' it through his eyes so I hope that you'll bear with me!
08:15 12th March - George sets off to set that first lock and gets into discussion with another boater wishing to descend - we go first!
We have a 'bad road' ahead of us (the locks are not set in our favour); we would of course have a 'good road' if they were!
Geoff is getting the locks ready ahead of us (Lockwheeler); George is closing gates after us and has also promised to 'draw' (start to fill) them for the next pair of boats.
Mags and I chat whilst the lock empties. We are now 'getting 'em ahead' (keeping well ahead of the boats behind us)
Lot of locks to go yet!
George tries to close that wandering left hand gate from the other one.
coooo... that's a big dragonfly and a tiny decoy duck!!
This is what John Thorpe describes as 'in the thick of 'em' - they're all coming all at once!
St Mary's Church Warwick in the distance
Seyella and Rock n Roll waiting patiently
A Mallard in for the ride too.
The Hatton Flight of Locks is known to boaters as The Stairway to Heaven - in total it's a 146.5 feet rise/fall! (just over 44.65 meters for those of you who use the 'new'money!)
Canal related properties abound .. some a bit tired ...
... and some with extensions.
Ugly Bridge - that's it's name, not my description - it has some quite nice carving along the parapet.
The railway keeps us company for most of the way
A well preserved canal cottage - George's antics amuse Mags!
Hope he moves out of the way safely!
Leaving the bottom lock - 21 locks done in 2-hours 50 minutes - each paddle (sluices for admitting and releasing water from a lock) takes 23 turns of a windlass (portable handle for winding the paddles up and down) - that's 21x23x2 for each lock - 966 turns altogether. These locks work on a screw thread principle and do not usually need to be 'wound' down again, although Geoff reckoned that a couple were quite stiff and had to give them a helping hand!
Rock and Roll needs a pump out of the loo (I know, too much information) and we went into the Saltisford Arm for their services...
... there was not a lot of room ...
... but it was very pleasant!
Oak and Ash Hotel Boats moored here...
... noisy bird boxes!
Out of the arm and under here to catch up now with Seyella
Lunch with Mags and Geoff above Cape Locks ...
... and we're off again here passing Kate Boats
Quick stop at Tesco's
Over the River Avon aqueduct ...
... and the railway aqueduct ...
... and Myton Alpacas.
We've had a untroubled time descending Hatton and Cape Locks - clear water all the way - until we reached the stretch through Royal Leamington Spar - where we picked up rubbish on the 'blades' (propeller) and had to 'chuck-back' (going into reverse gear) in an attempt to get rid of whatever is fouling them.  We also were scraping over submerged objects under bridges, but reached our mooring for the night just before Radford Lock safely at last at a quarter to six.  Nearly 10 hours today - a bad road and a long day but interesting and great fun!!

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