Lapworth Lock 22 to Nearly Dickens Heath
With the car returned and enough water left in the tank to do some washing the engine was started and we watched boats come and go past us until we knew that the rinsing of our clothes was nearly complete. Lock 22 was in our favour so we quickly untied before another boat came up the lock below.
The water point was slow to say the least, most probably not helped by the dishwasher having gone on as soon as we’d tied up. I made use of the time and strained the elderflower cordial and bottled it into suitable containers that I’d been keeping.
After an hour we were ready to push onwards and upwards towards Birmingham. But there was mizzle in the air, the sort that before you’ve realised it you are soaked to the skin. Normally we’d stay put until it dried up, we could go through the link towards the Grand Union, wind at the junction and then tie up on the moorings there, or we could push on through and get wet. We looked at each other, we’d been here too long already, ‘Let’s get wet!’ we said in unison.
The next lock up was full, I checked that a lady wasn’t wanting to come down, she was having some difficulty with a tap to wash her boat. I did ask if she could give the port side of Oleanna a spray as we went past as her boat looked very clean and she’d not even started, but she was having serious problems with her hose attachments.
From here on the bottom gates revert to double gates. The single bottom gates are handy in that you don’t have to walk round to open or close the other side (unless you have long legs and can jump across) they are just quite heavy. Not sure which I prefer, the extra walk or the extra weight?
A boat was coming down so we paused for them to come past. This meant the next few locks would be in our favour, up to the long pound before the flight really gets going. The rain came and went, we really didn’t know whether it was best to wear a coat or remove it, which would keep us drier? After seven locks we decided to pull in on the rings and have some lunch before continuing up the next thirteen, other boats did the same including one coming downhill.
Once we’d fuelled ourselves we pushed off, the flight ahead was mostly empty apart from where the top gates leak. I walked up ahead to get the next one ready whilst Mick closed up behind. The rest of the flight was ours no boats ahead and no boat coming down to meet us between locks 7 and 8. This pound is shorter than most on the flight and has a bend. We’ve had to wait below lock 8 before for a 70fter to come through, but not today.
I chose to walk all the way, including the half mile pound to the next two locks. This is where a couple of years ago Tilly lost a collar in the sideways trees, a reflective one that didn’t reflect when a torch was shone around the area to try to find it. I didn’t bother looking for it. The last four locks were all full so my walk saved Oleanna waiting below.
At around 3:30pm Oleanna was coming up Narnia Lock (Lapworth Top Lock). Our first journey through here on our shareboat was on a very snowy morning. The canal was covered in slush and the world looked magical in the snowy light. We’ve been through here now several times since, but today was by far the hottest, now the waterproofs had been abandoned and sun cream applied.
Next through the lift bridges, the first being harder than the second. In fact the second was so easy I over wound it and it bounced back some! Through Hockley Heath with it’s strange expensive shops. The chap who gave Mick a lift back from Solihull this morning explained that the hot tub shop, Rolls Royce and McClaren show rooms are there because lots of footballers and managers live in the area.
Passing under bridge 20 and we still didn’t stop to go to Wedges. Bakers don’t have the appeal they used to have, a nice crusty loaf just fills me with the thought of indigestion. After seeing so few boats on the flight it turned out they were all waiting for us at bridge holes! In quick succession we passed five.
We wanted to find a mooring to have a barbecue, even though it was a touch windy. Mick kept wanting to stop where there were boats moored on the off side, but I kept wanting to carry on to where we’d stopped on Lillian. On we went and found the mooring I’d been thinking of, just short of Dickens Heath. The towpath could have been a touch wider, but we weren’t going to smoke out other boats.
Why couldn’t they have sorted this outside sooner! Giving me two hours, my feet! Instead I came and went whilst they had their dingding, but then they left me to it. I made the most of it, climbing trees, digging holes, rolling around. The two hours became very long and I returned just before the lights dimmed. Apparently I’m not going to like tomorrows outside!
Once we’d eaten we retired indoors, the evening cooling down. But after a couple of hours the inside of Oleanna had also cooled down somewhat, so the heating was put on for an hour!