Letting The Side Down. 30th December

Hatton Top Lock to above Lock 6 Lapworth, North Stratford Canal.

We’d intentionally let the stove go out overnight as the boat had been a touch too hot, so this morning the boiler was put to use to take the chill off and provide hot water. Cups of tea in bed were disturbed as the boiler clicked in repeatedly. The gas had run out! Good job we carry three bottles.

After a round of bacon butties we pushed off and onwards. It was a chilly morning outside and Mike and Chris stayed inside keeping warm.

Emerging from Shrewley Tunnel

Shrewley Tunnel was clear and we sailed through accompanied by the Dr Who theme being recited from the bow where Chris was doing a time lapse of our journey. Link A shame there weren’t any air shafts for me to count the mysterons as I’m sure that would have been appreciated by the chaps at the front.

A wise old goat

Next the goats at Tom O The Wood, plenty in the fields today. We stopped at the water point to top up the tank and relight the stove so that it could get going before we reached the Lapworth flight, saving everyone getting a face full of smoke.


From the stern we could hear Tilly protesting constantly inside. The sort of protesting she does whilst we are in tunnels. Blimey Tilly! SHUT UP!! Just what will Mike and Chris think of you?!

She’s silent about it now of course! But would she stop!!

Left please

Mick swung Oleanna round at Kingswood Junction leaving the land of widebeams behind and we slowly moved our way past the moored boats and new houses going up towards Lock 20. Sam from NB Red Wharf had warned us that Lock 20 had been out of use before Christmas so we were prepared to carry straight on through the link when we saw the hazard tape and chains holding the bottom gates together.

Straight on

When the Stratford Canal was extended from Hockley Heath south, it reached and joined the Warwick and Birmingham Canal (now the Grand Union) at Kingswood. The canal was built with the current lock No 19 in situ. The canal then stayed on a level to what is now the new link, here there was a guillotine lock which dropped down to the Grand Union level.

Lock 20 today

When the Stratford Canal was extended to Stratford the layout at the junction altered. The guillotine lock was blocked off and the current locks 20 and 21 were built. The Warwick and Birmingham therefore continued to receive a lockfull of water every time a boat passed onto their waters.

Heading through the link

In more modern times leisure boats heading from the south Stratford and those coming from the Grand Union, would drain the pound above locks 20/21 and so in 1996 the original guillotine lock was reopened but as a channel linking below the locks, thus saving water.

Swinging round to the right to Lock 21

So today we continued straight on, through the narrow link and turned right to head up the Lapworth Locks. A different crew briefing was needed along with pointing out the gap in the bridges that let the horse remain connected to the boat and the barrel roof of the lock cottage.

The wide basin below lock 21, the link to the left by the cottage

There were plenty of walkers out on the flight. Today’s comment being how narrow the locks were, at least nobody asked if we’d fit!

Making our way up

Most locks were empty, a couple full. With three crew we got into a rhythm again quickly. No boats coming down, we had the flight to ourselves. The sun had burnt it’s way through the morning mist that loitered, so whilst stood in the sunshine it was nearly warm.

The boys finishing up

Although each pound between the locks was on the weir they all felt a touch low, well we were taking a locks worth out of most of them. Oleanna took her time entering the locks, extra umph needed to get her over cills. Was this due to shallow water and our depth or maybe something around the prop. We continued, investigation could wait for later.

The lovely house on the bend

Chris did another timelapse of our trip up the locks. Lapworth in 30 seconds rather than our 1 hour and 24 minutes. When we reached the long pound before Lock 5 we pulled in. Here is better for Tilly, who was allowed straight out to save her continuing to let the side down with her shouting!

Bookends ready to close the gates

With three quarters of an hour of daylight left Mike and Chris decided to head off to catch a train back to Warwick. It had been a lovely couple of days with them and perfectly timed to help with the locks. Next time we’ll have to get our act together in the summer. We waved them goodbye as they made their way back down the locks to find the road.

Tilly came home after a good nose around. This is where she once lost a collar, but she hadn’t found it today. We’ve had a quiet evening in front of the stove, luckily Tilly has quietened down now that its just the three of us again.

The boys at the top.

15 locks, 5.92 miles, 1 left, 1 right, 1 full water tank, 1 very noisy cat, 1 short tunnel, 4 bacon butties, 1 hr 24 minutes, 4 more locks still to go, 5 back to 3, 1 quiet boat again.