Margee Bargee. 12th June

Pendford Bridge 4 to Wolverhampton off side mooring, BCN

Today we allowed ourselves to have breakfast before pushing off, other boats that had moored near us had already moved on by the time we’d got ourselves ready. A pause in the long grass by bridge 2 for me to walk to Morrisons to pick up a bag of salad (we’d forgotten to buy yesterday!) and some blueberries.

Last of the Shropie locks for this year

The hire boats were in at base by Autherley Stop Lock, the staff working hard to do the turn arounds. This made it hard to get off Oleanna, crossing the stern of a boat and then managing to get round a cart of equipment required for engine services. Four inches higher and we’d finished our time on the Shropie.

Sorry Chester, maybe next year

Right please!

Then left! Onto the Wolverhampton flight.

Going up!

The bottom lock is always a photo opportunity. 21 carved into the two bottom beams. Up Oleanna came, on to the second lock, here only a single bottom gate, the only one on the flight.

By the time Oleanna was coming into Lock 19, our third of the flight, two figures could be seen walking down the towpath. Our altered schedule meant that we could give some more ex-boaters a canal fix, we like to do our bit for boaters mental health. Today we were being joined by Alison and Laura from NB Large Marge.

Here they come

We first met The Margees on the Chesterfield Canal when we couldn’t exit a lock just below Shireoaks Marina, we ended up cruising with them and their parrot Jaffa for quite a few weeks before our routes headed off in different directions. We’ve met up a few times since and when we’d been in touch a few days ago Alison had expressed an interest in helping us up Wolverhampton.

Windlasses at the ready

The last time we’d seen them we kept our distance, elbow bumps the new way of greeting each other in early 2020, today there were hugs all round before windlasses and hand cuff keys were handed out. A hire boat was hot on our tail, so we’d best get a move on!

Laura heading to set the next one

Leapfrogging of crew started quickly, two working the current lock, one heading upwards to set the next chamber, nobody having to go back and forth or walk round a lock several times.

Even Mick got to chat too

The hardest bit of today was trying to remember the two conversations you were having as you leapfrogged locks and people. There was plenty of news to catch up on, more than the annual Christmas round robin we share. Old hands make for easy locking just as had happened at Audlem with Carol and George.

Swapping in a pound

We met a boat coming down, apparently there had been a problem yesterday, a boat getting stuck in a lock, front button. They’d had to wait for C&RT to top up some pounds, so had had a delayed start to their descent. A while later we came across a second boat coming down.


All the way up the flight there had been wild flowers, but by lock 12 (possibly) the shear number of Oxeye Daisies was amazing. Wonderful, you’d hardly know you were heading into Wolverhampton.

Onwards and upwards

A pause at the half way mark for drinks before carrying on. Hydration important on a day like today.

Think we know where that water went!

Then a flooded pound, thankfully there was an alternative higher path so we didn’t all have to wade to the next lock. Two locks up we could see where the water had possibly come from, the next pound decidedly low. Someone had possibly been letting water run through the lock without realising. Laura headed up to the next lock to let water down, Mick bringing Oleanna along at a crawl. Once we were up that lock we dropped the water to help the hire boat behind us.

Coming in

Another low pound towards the top of the flight had us running more water down. The level was so low that Mick had to back into the lock so as not to be sat on the cill. The pound above had dropped so warranted a top up too, Laura was concerned that would just push the problem up hill, the next lock happened to be the top lock, so not a problem.

The ladies at work

We pulled out of the top lock 2 hours 42 minutes after we’d pulled in at the bottom lock, a job well done on a hot muggy day. The moorings above the lock were all free so we pulled onto one for lunch. A cold collation was enjoyed by all with plenty of drinks.

Top Lock

It was gone 3pm by the time we said our farewells, not enough time to really get anywhere so we pulled along to the offside moorings for the night. Tilly wasn’t impressed with this as she’s not allowed out here. She spent sometime working out a route up the plant covered wall. I could easily make it up there! But it’s the getting down again that would be the problem Tilly!

Todays crew

Another lovely day working locks in the company of friends.

Bye bye, until next time

Now who can we find for the next few flights?

If I get up to that bit, nudge across then it’s straight to the top!

22 locks, 4 miles, 1 right, 1 left, 2 margees, 0 jaffa, 3 downhill boats, 2 low pounds, 4 volunteers litter picking, 1 bag of salad, 3 cheeses, 2 meats, 1 pate, 4 chocolate chip cookies, 1 bored cat, 1 drizzly moment, 1 downpour again!