Half Way Down The …… 24th April

Rowington Hill Bridge to Middle Lock Lane Lock 36

What a sunny morning, still a little bit windy but having some blue sky over head made all the difference. We didn’t rush to get away, but that meant we were passed by a couple of boats heading for Hatton before we’d even thought about pushing off.

Rowington Embankment

Just before 11 we finally got going, time to admire the views we’d hidden from yesterday. A wide beam sat near Shrewley Tunnel, a narrowboat approached from the far end, they held back and pulled in giving us the tunnel to ourselves. Unfortunately this meant the chap got stuck in the mud for a while.

Another couple of miles and we’d reached the top of Hatton. We’d been keeping an eye open behind us in case there was any sign of a boat behind to share with, but the canal was empty. Yes we could sit and wait, but we might be there all day! The top lock was in our favour so we decided to head down on our own.

The lock below was also full, so I walked down to open the top gates leaving Mick to close gates and lift a paddle. In the third lock there was a boat rising, their crew actually walked past me to see what was happening at the top, he then lifted the paddle for Mick. Great I thought one less lot of gates to open, there’d be plenty of them to do today!

Busy at the top of the locks

Then as we started to descend the second lock the gates on the lock below had been closed, the lock emptied and another two boats were heading into it. Was it to be this busy all the way down the flight?

Forth Lock down

We swapped places with the single boat and waited for the next lock to fill. Reports from down the flight was that there was a volunteer down there somewhere with a couple of trainees, helping hands but one’s that would be travelling in a pack.

It took a little while for the last boat to realise they needed to vacate the lock for us to be able to use it, lock fatigue that close to the top! Sadly Lock 43 was to be the last one set for us, we must be following someone down, although they couldn’t be seen ahead.

Great view down to Warwick

From here the world got quieter on the water, plenty of walkers about. This proved quite handy. Now that the locks were all nicely lined up and all needed filling, I walked down to lift a paddle so that it could be filling as the one above emptied. We stuck to only lifting one paddle at each lock, many people say opening both paddles only saves a couple of minutes, I was more interested in the energy conservation!

Heading down

A young lad walking past the now full lock below stopped and opened the gate for us, brilliant! If we could have someone do that at each lock that would save some muscle aches. A couple got chatting to Mick at the next lock, he managed to enlist them into opening the next two locks for us, meaning I could walk straight past to get the next one filling.

These paddles take a lot of winding, normally they are not too stiff, but today each and everyone took some turning, the long reach on my windlass was needed for extra umph!

Looking down

With a couple of locks before half way we could see that a boat was coming up, here was the volunteer and trainees. A trainee walked up to help me, we chatted, it was her first day of training, I strongly suspect she’s not done much if any boating. Hope she enjoys working on the flight.

We’d not had lunch and with Middle Lock Bridge just there we decided to pull in, tucking ourselves as far up to the bywash as we could, making use of a ring and leaving the lock landing free behind us.

Volunteers ahead!

A quick look at the map, we’d need to do at least another five locks for another possible mooring. Here was much further away from the road with very good looking friendly cover and trees. We decided to stay put, halfway down the flight, giving Tilly 4 hours of shore leave.

That was it we only saw her once in those four hours and that was after I’d called her to check she was okay. She hopped out from the friendly cover surprising a woofer and owner on the towpath, cartoon arched back and bog brush tail were instantly engaged! I did wonder whether she’d allow them to pass or insist that they went back down the flight!

Can we have this outside all week please

We pottered away the afternoon, the sun shining down on the solar panels meaning we could top up on hot water electrically after I’d had a shower. A Sunday roast chicken was prepared and there was time for a catch up chat with David before it needed carving.

10 locks, 3.69 miles, 5 uphill boats, 0 following us, 1 ahead for sure, 3 gates opened, 1 volunteer, 2 trainees, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval, 1 canine surprise, 1 large roast chicken, 1 boater warned of diesel prices, 1st t-shirt kind of day.