As we were moored on lock bollards last night we set off at 7.30 this morning. In fact I woke at 5.45 but thought Alan wouldn’t appreciate being given coffee that early! It was all very quiet for most of the morning. Alan was steering for the first few locks and had great difficulty with low water levels right up to the start of the Offerton flight, where we started meeting other boats. There was a surprise for us at one of the locks where we found a large dead eel on the top gate, the second we have seen over the last few weeks. We were also amused to see a group from a local nursery with five, very solemn toddlers being wheeled in one buggy with three rows of seats (and a very strong young lady pushing them!)
This is a very pretty canal once the outskirts of Worcester are left behind. There are long reeded sections and Alan was delighted to see a reed warbler nest with a bird sitting on it.
After passing the Droitwich Junction we were in heavier traffic. We had thought that we might stop for lunch before the six Astwood locks but seeing a line of boats behind us we decided to go on and eat on the way. The Black Prince hirers behind us were planning to hand back their boat this afternoon (just before the Stoke Locks) and various members of the family came up to help us though every lock. It was certainly to speed up their own passage but was a great help and they were very nice people.
After passing the very large Black Prince base we caught up to the boat that we had been following since we had passed the Droitwich. There were four people on it and one of the men was good enough to open a bottom paddle for us as they went out of the locks ahead. He said that they were going up the Tardebigge Flight this afternoon, a daunting prospect as it was already 3.00. This set Alan off and he suddenly became very enthusiastic about us going straight on. As we had already done 22 locks and had been on the go non stop for eight hours already I flatly refused to add another 30 locks and several more hours to the day’s total and we moored at bottom of the flight opposite the Queen’s Head pub. As it started to rain very heavily an hour later we are glad we didn’t go on! Mind you, Alan has filled in the time by making a new radio gadget in the process of which he dropped the sea magnet on his bare foot from a great height. This added to the pain he is feeling at present in one hand. It might have been safer to have gone on and kept him out of mischief!
ED: I have added a photo of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal lock mechanisms. The paddle catch is such a good idea, in that it is self-centring and so efficient to operate I cannot see why it has not been employed throughout the whole of the canal system. As to the white bobbin upon the lock gate, can anyone offer an expaination?
Today we did 11.36 Miles and 22 Locks
Statistics so far:-
2859.58 Miles, 1818 Locks, 177 Swing Bridges, 97 Lift Bridges, 51 Tunnels