Top of Wolverhampton to Hunting Bridge No 7, Shropshire Union Canal
The chaps at Oxley Marine had warned Mick of a pound a few locks down the Wolverhampton flight that empties itself overnight. They suggested after locking down the top lock to leave a paddle cracked open at both ends of the lock to send water down. We however didn’t like the idea of leaving water coming down the flight.
So whilst I popped to Sainsburys for some milk, a newspaper and to see how their stocks of loo roll were doing, Mick sent some water down the flight. The first pound had been a couple of inches low, so that was topped up and another couple of locks worth of water flowed down and around the bywashes of the flight. Hopefully this would be enough.
We entered the top lock at around 9:45am and started to work our way down. We’ve been up three times, the last time Mick single handing as I’d broken my ankle, but today was to be our first time going down the flight.
The second lock was a touch too far to walk ahead to set to then return to let Mick and Oleanna out, after all I’d be doing that on the majority of the flight so I saved my energy.
We made steady progress downhill dropping into our routine quickly. Each and every lock was empty so required filling. Back and forth I walked, Mick closed top gates and lifted a bottom paddle.
There were several gongoozlers. A man of very few English words watched and tried to express how interesting it all was. Then a young chap with a can of cider started to ask questions. He offered to open and close gates, lending a hand. Even though I explained how things worked he didn’t get it. He asked if I wanted any more help, ‘Only if you want to’. Was I going to have an assistant all the way down the flight? No, as I walked ahead to set the next lock he wandered off down a path, at least he’d saved me walking round to open gates on a lock.
All bar one of the flight have double bottom gates and only three have handrails on them. At these I could kick the bottom gates open, but the ones without a handrail I walked round.
A couple walking up the flight (about halfway) stopped and chatted, on their way back down they opened and closed some gates for me. They asked how many locks there were, 21. Over what distance are they, at the time I didn’t know this, but I know I’d already walked 4.5 miles!
Some biscuits and water kept us going. Under the viaduct, where trains head to Birmingham from Shrewsbury. The sun was now out making it quite a pleasant day.
Then the aroma of horses, loads of horses. Looking through the hedge on the offside I could see horse boxes parked up at Wolverhampton Racecourse. A Mum and young boy walked past, he was trying to stand and watch, but Mum kept pushing him along, the same at the next lock. Sadly I didn’t get the opportunity to ask if he’d like to push a gate. However Tilly stopped them dead in their tracks, wooing them sat in a window.
Never mind them! Will you two please hurry up and stop moving the outside. This one has plenty of trees , will you tie it up now! Yes NOW!!!
At lock 18 a muscle in my left arm decided it had had enough. Blimey it hurt. Mick suggested that I drove, all well and good but as I couldn’t lower my arm without it hurting I wouldn’t have been able to operate the throttle. I continued winding paddles and keeping my left arm raised. Thankfully it wore off and was as if nothing had happened.
Really, this outside fitted the bill. She’s been singing Saturday, Saturday, Saturday is Tillys day, for days now, but it didn’t seem to be my day. She’d been and got a newspaper so I knew it was Saturday! No matter how much I pleaded from every window and door they just kept on going.
At 1:15pm we pulled out of the bottom lock, biped the horn to announce our imminent arrival at Aldersley Junction. But which way would we turn?
There was a gap in the moored boats so we pulled in and had some well earnt lunch. A couple of Norbury Junction hire boats came out from Autherely Junction each in turn headed north. This meant the stop lock, all of four inches would be in our favour.
Whilst descending, Mick disposed of rubbish at the bins, then we moved up to the water point and topped up the tank. Just gone 3pm we pushed off again to reach our chosen mooring for the day between Bridges 7 and 8 of the Shropie about an hours cruise ahead.
This was a very strong contender for a Mrs Tilly stamp of approval two years ago, except Mrs Tilly stamps hadn’t come about at that point. Would the mooring meet Tilly’s exacting standards?
A touch too blowy to find out properly. Tom had to remove things from the top because it was so blowy. She stayed inside and mixed floury things together and put a chicken in the oven. Today wasn’t Saturday after all it was going to be Sunday.
22 locks, 5.52 miles, 1 newspaper, 4 rolls not 100, 21 empty locks, 84 paddles working, 1.8 miles, 2 helpers, 1 can cider, 1 can beer, 1 right, 1 left, 1 full water tank, 1 clean pooh box, 0 rubbish, 1.5 hours shore leave, 0.5 taken, 2 much fresh air, 1 loaf started, 2 much discard, 1 Tilly fan email, Hello Guy! 1 roast chicken, 2 pooped boaters, 68 days on the BCN, 1 Oleanna has left the plateau.
Starter fed in morning and evening.
Flours, oil, seeds and water mixed and left overnight ready for tomorrow.