Lime Kiln Lock to Stone Bottom Lock Winding Hole
Time to move on, well just a bit. We’d thought about moving early, but despite the sun waking us a lot earlier than normal we didn’t seem to get moving any earlier than normal. Other boats were on the move and we suspected we’d have to wait for some of the locks going through Stone today, but we had plenty of time.
Lime Kiln lock already had a boat going down, so I helped with the gates and reset it for us. The boats should now be spaced out, but when I rounded the bend towards Newcastle Road Lock I could see the same boat waiting for another to come up.
The gates had been left from a boat going down for one coming up, good practice. Although that boat was still filling with water at the tap below. There were plenty of people on hand to help from waiting boats. Each person who appeared from below said that it was chaos at the water point. Two boats moored on the service moorings, one had just had to do-se-do as it came out from the lock with the one leaving the water point, another arrived and pulled up on the off side, another trying to hold a position ready to come up the lock when it was their turn, but out of the way for the next descending boat to come past.
Why so many boats at one tap? Stone has two taps, one here and the other below Star Lock. As we’d noticed the other day on a walk, the tap by Star Lock isn’t working, a big blue C&RT sign blurred with rain once said something, but is now illegible. We’d tried the tap and certainly nothing came out of it. There is no C&RT notice that we can find about this tap.
We needed water, the gauge was down to just under a quarter and we’d planned on doing some washing. Nothing for it but to head down the lock and hope there would be somewhere for us to wait our turn. There was nowhere near the tap so instead Mick moved Oleanna down to the chandlers where we decided to fill with diesel. We’d been hoping to meet up with Coal Boat Halsall, but by the time they get to Great Haywood we will most likely have turned off the Trent and Mersey and be on our way to Atherstone much further south.
Apparently a few days ago someone had pulled up where we were to wait for the tap to become free and then an altercation occurred as someone had jumped the queue, fists were mentioned in the tale Mick was told. We waited patiently.
One boat that had been filling no longer had it’s hose out, the crew seemed to be having a nice chat with a coffee in hand, presumably unaware that they were hogging the services whilst others waited, patiently. He eventually pulled away, vacating a space for the chap who’d clung onto his boat for half an hour on the off side. It turns out that his wife had gone shopping for some bits and he’d been waiting for her. Have to say if it had been us we’d have arranged to meet somewhere up ahead once the tank was full. But each to their own.
When there was space for us we backed up and waited our turn. For such a busy place only having one tap working is ridiculous especially in this location. We asked the volunteers about it. When demolition work started below Star Lock on the old Leisure Centre the water was turned off, presumably just in case. The tap now no longer works and has been out of action for possibly six weeks! Will a supply be reinstated? If not then more waiting space should be provided to help stop boats backing up all over the place.
With our tank full we worked down the next lock and pulled into a 24 hr mooring. From here we walked to Morrisons to do a reasonably large shop. Once this was stowed we dropped down Star Lock, a line of chairs laid out along the towpath for drinking gongoozlers. There was space here for us, this will do for a couple of days.
4 locks, 0.81 miles, 4, 5, 6, who knows boats waiting for water, 6 volunteers, 1 admired cat, 85 litres diesel, 1 full water tank, 2 moorings, 2 boxes wine, 1 chicken, 1 freezer still not empty, 3 hours, 7 magpies, 1 postponement.