Greensforge Lock to Kinver Lock
The hire boat that had sped past the other day returned past us this morning, but far slower. This was either because they’d been advised to slow down past moored boats or they’d spotted the fishing match that had set up around us. According to the Lockie yesterday they had headed to Kinver to wind and then were due back at Norbury Junction on Sunday. Canal plan suggests this would take them 16.5 hours, so doable if the boat was due back late on Sunday, not our idea of a pleasurable cruise. Each to their own.
We were luckily at the end of the fishing match, one chap close to our stern and another at our bow. The chap in front was quite chatty and as we pulled away said he couldn’t have done it any batter himself. Nice to have a conversation rather than just a begrudging head nod or grunt. Soon we were at Greensforge Lock which was empty, so I walked down to check if anyone was approaching from below. The lock bridges make this tricksy, you have to walk to the bottom of them to be able to see and sure enough there was a boat just pulling in to come up. I waved them on walked back up, signalled to Mick that one was coming up and opened the gates.
A small project boat came into the lock, a very proud lady walked up with a windlass. They’d had the boat since October but hadn’t been able to do much yet as everything had been ripped out and for much of the time the cabin walls had been covered in condensation. Newly blacked and an extension just welded over the well deck they were hoping to make some headway. Being almost empty the boat was light and couldn’t help but be pulled at quite a speed towards the top gates, the chap at the helm was nowhere to be seen! The inevitable collision occurred, ‘We need to get new fenders too!’ but luckily no damage was done to their boat, the lock or the chap inside who was more interested in getting their broken generator off the boat. I pointed out that maybe they should move the boat back as the bow fender was about to catch the top gate, the chap was nowhere to be seen again. However we could both just push the boat back out of harms way, if it had been Oleanna we’d have had no chance. For an enthusiastic couple I’d have expected a little bit more care with their battered project, maybe when it’s complete they’ll have a bit more respect for it and the lock gates.
A large immaculate garden sits along the off side, the house isn’t much to look at, but the garden more than makes up for it. The chap, John, who owns it also owns Ashwood Nurseries behind. He has won numerous medals for his plants through the years. It’s a shame we hadn’t been here last weekend when his garden was open to visitors. The money he raises goes to charity and it would certainly be worth the entrance fee.
We made our way along the edge of red sandstone outcrops. At Rocky Lock there used to be a cave beside it, but what looks like a recent landslip has almost covered the entrance. The canal follows the curves of a river which is destined to meet up with the River Stour. Red sandstone on one side and boggy woodland the other.
As we approached Stourton Junction we could see a coal boat coming towards us. A shame we didn’t know we’d pass NB Roach, another couple of bags of coal wouldn’t go amiss. Straight on and onto waters we’ve only done the once before. Stewponey Lock sits beside a busy road and a BW yard. Black and white buildings and the small toll house suggests an age where it would have been filled with hustle and bustle, horses and boats. Today it’s just the noise of the traffic. The lock gates have seen better days, some patching up has already happened, but I suspect some more will need to happen soon.
Through Dunsley Tunnel, all of 25 yards long, which really is just a fat bridge. It makes us laugh at the transit time on the signs especially when they say ‘1 minute’. A pootle around a rolling meadow to what we had planned to be our last lock of the day, Hyde Lock. The lock cottage has newish garden gates, miniature lock gates. Once below we started to wonder if we’d remembered Kinver correctly.
Normally between the two of us we remember places quite well, were there are places to moor, but today somehow the place we had planned to moor had been cut out of the canal and moved, but where too?! Back on Lillian we’d come through heading northwards. There had been a boat taking it’s time in a lock to get a disabled passenger on board. A pirate boat was coming through a lock and we had to wait, this was beside a pub with plenty of gongoozlers drinking their pints on a sunny day. We then pulled in and walked to a hut that sold chilled medication which we ate on a bench by Lillian before carrying on. Today there was a lock by a pub, but it wasn’t the right pub. This was the lock with the disabled passenger, where had the one above gone because we’d not passed through it and we’d planned to moor there!
We now think where we were thinking of is a couple more locks further south.
A C&RT fund raiser came over for a chat as we worked our way down Kinver Lock. He was very chatty and not of the normal breed, he’d already got two people to sign up today so wasn’t going to hard sell us anything. Spaces in the visitor moorings gave us a choice of where to pull in for the day. A quick lunch and then a walk into the village to check out the butcher and get a Saturday newspaper. Sadly they had run out of our chosen paper, but we did get a nice joint of pork which I’ll slow roast on the stove tomorrow.
6 locks, 5.04 miles, 1 straight on, 1 chatty fisherman, +16 hours to get back! 1 bumped about project, 2 landslips, 1 lock missing, 0 chilled medication hut, 2 boaters with failing memory, 1 pork joint, 1 substitute newspaper, 1 twisted sock almost complete.