Locked Out

We have worked 107 locks in the past five days so we are feeling a little worn out. Today it was the Hatton Flight, but first we had to make our way from Kingswood Junction to the top of the locks. It was further than I remembered: in my mind it was just around the corner, not over an hour of very turgid travelling through dreadfully shallow waters. The pound was down at least eighteen inches and any deviance from the exact centre of the canal caused us to tilt alarmingly. Luckily we didn’t encounter another boat as we inched painfully through the cut known as the Rowington Tunnel, where there were exposed rocks on either side. We met boaters who moor at the Mid Warks Yacht Club and they said that it had taken four people to get them off the side and that they had had to go all the way back to Kingswood Junction to turn, rather than at their slipway as normal. I wonder if it might be this section of the Grand Union that is closed because of water shortages this year? In contrast there was water pouring over the by washes on the Hatton Flight itself, but that’s no good if boats can’t get there.

When we reached the top lock NB Blue Moon was waiting for someone to accompany them down and off we set. They had been there for twenty minutes or so. In contrast we passed four solo boats ascending that were two or three locks apart. The most any of them would have had to wait would be ten minutes.

There were four crew on Blue Moon and we set off briskly down the locks with two people going ahead to set the next lock down. We were feeling very pleased with how well it was all going when we caught up to two boats in front with about five locks to go. There were at least six people on one boat (all quite a bit younger than any of us) and a couple on the other boat. When they reached each lock all the passengers (I use the term advisedly because they weren’t doing any work) would pile out on the lock side and then all get back on again to travel the few yards to the next lock. It looked as if the only one doing any work at all was the elderly gentleman from the accompanying boat. The steerer on the many peopled boat was heard to say as we were spotted waiting for them “Oh look, some boats have caught up to us. Let’s go slower, we’re not in a hurry”. We weren’t putting any pressure on them but boats consequently backed up in every lock behind us and the word came down the line that there were people above whose hackles were well and truly raised. As we left the bottom lock (the descent had taken about 2 ½ hours) the two boats had disappeared and when we passed them they were already moored and heading with great agility to the pub, so going slow was obviously not as attractive when it came to passing moored boats.

It was a very hot day and we didn’t feel any great desire to walk into Warwick so we said goodbye to Blue Moon and headed straight on through the two Cape Locks, though not without wistful glances from Alan towards the Cape of Good Hope pub. There is a canal side Tesco on the edge of Warwick so we moored there while we did some shopping and then went on through Leamington Spa to a mooring at Radford Semele. It was a popular spot with several other boats moored and lots of walkers, runners and cyclists. Leamington Spa is obviously a place to keep fit.

Today we did 13.29 Miles, 23 Locks and 1 Tunnel to be added

Statistics so far:-

2896.06 Miles, 1890 Locks, 177 Swing Bridges, 97 Lift Bridges, 57 Tunnels

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