Narrowness. 10th April

Cuttle Bridge 13 to Shobnall Fields

Should I keep taking such photos?

Sunday, time for breakfast and some shore leave for Tilly.

Swarkestone Pavillion

We’d moored not that far from Swarkestone Lock so I walked up with a windlass in hand to make it ready. Someone had left a bottom paddle up which meant it was in our favour. There were plenty of people milling around the lock, runners, walkers, cyclists and a group of lads who offered advice to Mick on how to open the gates, strangely enough Mick didn’t barge the gates open as had been suggested!

Swarkestone Lock

I opened up the opposite ground paddle first to see if that would hold Oleanna against the wall better, it worked, just as well as our centre line hadn’t been long enough to reach Mick’s bollard of choice. It was a gentle ride up.

Stenson with a popular cafe alongside

Three more miles and we were at the deepest and last of the broad locks on the Trent and Mersey, Stenson Lock. This one is counter intuitive, I would definitely be opening the opposite ground paddle first, but which one next? We couldn’t remember.

The lock was filled with loads of branches and twigs, the bottom gates only opening half way each. A chap came along unlocked a box alongside the bywash and pulled out a keb. This is like a garden folk but with bent prongs and is used to clear obstructions. He started clearing the bywash.


I opened the opposite ground paddle and then asked the chap, as he was local, which paddle was best to use next. The opposite gate paddle was his answer, followed by the other gate paddle then the same side ground paddle half way at first before taking it all the way up. He also gave us a handy tip to use the bollard nearer the stern to stop Oleanna from wanting to surge forwards, a method used on the River Wey. That made sense and we’ll do our best to remember it for next time. He said that working all six big locks in this way would work. I wonder if the locks south of Chester would work better using this method?

No stopping for chilled medication from the cafe today sadly. Oleanna had moved across to the towpath side and the chap very kindly offered to close up behind us and we still had quite a distance to go today.

A cuppa and some darning kept me busy as Mick steered us along the now increasingly busy canal, the proximity of Mercia Marina now very obvious. Yet we were still surprised at the amount of mooring available in the village. This stretch is always longer than you remember it to be. Across the Dove Aqueduct where we once got soaked in a hail storm. Swans are starting to sit high on their nests with Dad’s passing suitable nesting material towards Mums.

Mick managed to catch the back of a polo shirt when he went on the underground river tour in Sheffield the other week, this made quite a big hole. I said I’d mend it for him. A year ago Lisa had pointed me in the direction of a Japanese lady who darns things with a passion and not just for mending purposes, but more a work of art. I’d got a darning mushroom and have been wanting to give it a go.

I felt the rip needed a patch, so that went on first, then I started with threads in one direction, catching them as I went, maybe this would add something to the finished mend, or maybe it would just become annoying! I got as far as one lot of cotton going across before my eyes were getting a touch bog eyed, maybe I need a magnifying glass. I decided to stop just as we reached Dallow Lock, the first of the narrow locks and only 3ft 10″ deep.

Back to narrow locks

I emptied the lock, kicked/pushed the bottom gates open and realised that I haven’t done this for a while, maybe I should have stretched before hand. In came Mick and Oleanna and up she rose. As we pulled away another boat arrived below they were taking quite a bit of time to tie up. Then the lady walked up to the lock, she stopped at the bottom gates, then walked to the top ones, looked at the paddles. Her hesitation suggested that this was her first lock, by now we were too far away and another boat was approaching from above, hopefully they would lend a hand.

Plenty of space at Shobnall Fields so we pulled in furthest away from the bridge hoping this would be a good place for Tilly to have a couple of hours. It was, but what lay over the garden fence was far more interesting!

We settled down and popped a chicken in to roast.

Yesterday I’d heard from David that he’d been joined by someone who seemed to want to give him a helping hand, they offered to retie his ropes for him! Then they asked questions that really were none of their business. David has been around boats for at least 30 years and most certainly didn’t need assistance with his ropes. Some questions should also never be asked, you have no idea what is going on in someone’s mind. A smile can often mask what really lies behind it.

3 locks, 10.52 miles, 1 lock mastered, 1 long pound, 1st narrow lock, 1/3rd mended, 1 newbie boater, 1 park, 1 nosy cat, 1 narrowminded boater, 1 very big chicken.

11 thoughts on “Narrowness. 10th April

    1. pipandmick Post author

      Thank you Karen, I will continue to post photos of breakfasts and other foody stuff

  1. Brian Holt

    I find the locks at Chester have a mind of their own coming up, they all seem to behave differently.

    1. Pip

      Yep, that’s what we’ve found, tried alsorts of things and not really got them tamed.

  2. Anonymous

    Keep the food photos coming Pip. Each time I see your breakfast I suggest to Jan we should have a DIY “Spoons Big Breakfast”. 🙂 Tom & Jan

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