Tilly To The Rescue. 6th June

Meadow Lane Bridge 60 to Springwood Haven

Amy’s boat behind

Our Saturday newspaper doesn’t tend to get looked at until Sunday morning nowadays so we allowed ourselves just a little bit longer in bed before getting up and having breakfast. As we chomped away on our cereal a chap appeared at our side hatch, this was Bob from NB Burghley Girl. They’d been having problems with air in their fuel line for quite sometime, once the engine got going they could cruise, but he’d been having to pump diesel through to the engine every morning for this to work. Today it hadn’t and a call to RCR had been made.

Bob was hoping to be able to bow haul Burghley Girl closer to the services which were a mile in front of us so that it was easier for an engineer to get to them. We obviously offered to lend them a hand by giving them a tow, just our cereal to finish and get ready for a days cruise and we’d be with them. We had to go and help another boat cat, we couldn’t leave Amy stranded! I organised the crew and they moved the outside to meet Amy’s outside.

Hitching up

We’ve only really towed once before and that was a short boat through Islington Tunnel that was seriously overheating. Bob had set up his bow line to be able to attach to one of Oleanna’s dollys at the stern. With both boats connected on a shortish line we pulled away, just as a boat appeared behind! No stopping us now we were committed as Burghley Girl had momentum and wouldn’t stop for anyone.

Three in a line

We tried to keep a steady speed of slow, hoping there might be enough to give Bob some steering, but it seemed like Burghley Girl just wasn’t interested, she just followed. One bridge hole she was bound for the bank, Sue managed to position a fat fender so that the impending bump wouldn’t be too much.

Thankfully we didn’t meet an oncoming boat and the one following us kept a distance behind. As Bradley Green Bridge 49 came into view we slowed right down. With armco just after the winding hole we pulled in, Burghley Girl just slightly overtaking us and coming to a halt. She was pulled into the side and once we’d pulled through the bridge to the services for water they nudged up further away from the winding hole, nearer to the bridge where it would be easy for an engineer to get to them. We waved them goodbye and wished them luck with their onwards journey back to their marina, still a few days away with an operational engine.

As we approached the bottom of the Atherstone flight a boat came past saying we’d be a welcome sight as there were plenty of boats coming down, but none going up. We headed straight into the bottom lock where numerous crew stood willing to help, another boat already in the pound waiting to come down and one in the lock above.

Heading up

When Oleanna was half way up, the lock above was emptied. These locks are slow fillers but quick to empty. The boat coming down came out of the lock and the crew started to close the gates! Oh Hang on! Not again! I shouted and shouted, Mick sounded the horn and what seemed like four people then reopened the gates for us.

Paddle gear

Once in the next lock I was joined by the crew from the next boat waiting to come down. It was as if the world had teetered on the edge of oblivion when the gates had been closed, they really weren’t looking forward to following a novice crew and sure enough everyone was going to know about it. Well we all make mistakes at times and we all started with no knowledge at one time. Hope both boats enjoy the rest of their hire boat holidays.

A Ribble Link boat

At most locks we met someone coming down. I think I only had to close a couple of gates behind us. We loved the sign alongside Lock 6 of the Atherstone Locks!

Chatting to a chap at one lock I asked where they were heading to, a nosy but standard question whilst waiting for a lock to do it’s thing. He said Liverpool. Brilliant, had they been before? No. They were in for a treat. When were they booked to go down the locks, had they got a casual cruise or a mission on their hands. Booked?! No, do you need to?

One coming down

I was fairly sure you did need to book and suggested that he looked at the C&RT website for the Liverpool Link. Liverpool can be a popular destination, there’s plenty of space in the docks, but passage is limited to so many boats a day. Hope he manages to get a booking that suits.

We’d not noticed these metal bars on the edge of Lock 6 before. Mick did when he nearly tripped on one. They look like they were added to protect the lock side from ropes wearing them, but why are there no others on the flight?

Between 4 and 3

By the time we’d reached lock 5 the top gates were open and no boat visible. Most of the talk had been of the volunteers on the flight, but only one was visible at the next lock, maybe it was lunchtime. I walked up to see what was happening, a boat was just coming into Lock 4. If they were going to stop for water just before 5 then I’d drop the lock for us, if not I’d wait for them. They were carrying on down the flight.

Chalked up

By now the rain that had accompanied our towing this morning had returned, coats were needed. The volunteers reappeared and helped us up the last few locks. Our ascent marked up on the chalk board making it seven up and eight down, we’d certainly met all the downhill boats somewhere or other.

New gongoozlers

Our planned mooring for tonight was opposite Springwood Haven, we decided to press on and have a late lunch when we arrived, allowing Tilly more shore leave in one of her favourite spots.

£18 for 100grams of wool. Tempting

Near Mancetter I could hear drums, then the occasional swirling flag was spotted above the hedges then brass instruments. Something was going on, but sadly the hedges stopped us from getting a good view.

Three years ago we spent quite a bit of time along this pound as I designed panto for Chippy. Then there were works going on and boulders had ended up in the canal. Now there is a long length of wharf for Rothen work boats. A short distance on a new marina has sprung up. In our experience when marinas are built a hole is dug which sits there for years and years before any definite sign of intention is made, but this one has popped up within three years.

Hartshill Service yard clock

A few more miles and we reached our destination a day ahead of schedule. Our preferred spot was already taken, but there was still lots of space. We pulled up and let Tilly out. She was straight up the bank to see what lay beyond!

A couple of hours later a green boat came past slowing down, NB Burghley Girl. They pulled in in front of us and moored up for the day. Numerous checks had been done by the engineer and the cause was thought to be that that the pipe from the diesel tank to the engine maybe had rust spots, with the level of diesel now being low air was being pulled through the pipe rather than diesel. We don’t quite understand the theory but it’s not good. They need to get the level back up in their diesel tank, then things should improve. Springwood Haven was however closed today so they would have to wait for the morning.

Look what’s up here!!!

Chairs and cuppas were brought out and we had a good natter with Bob and Sue and got to meet Amy, although Amy and Tilly did keep their distance. I’d been happy to help, but no way was I going to actually meet another boat cat! We both kept a respectable distance away, well except when I had a peek in through their window!

11 locks, 6.8miles, 1 mile towing, 2nd Lockdown boat, 1 Ribble Link boat, 3 volunteers, 1 novice hire boat, 1 far more experienced hire boat, 7 up, 8 down, 4 hours, 1 boat cat.


Thumbs up, Mrs Tilly stamp of approval, maybe even one from Amy.