Dog Or Bear? 16th May

Bascote Railway Viaduct to Gibraltar Bridge 20

The forecast was for rain around 1pm today, so when we woke a touch early we decided to push off earlier than planned. Luckily our locking partners rise earlier than us anyway so we were all ready to push off at 9, rain coats handy in case.

There was activity up at the first lock, a single hander emptying it. I walked up to give him a hand. Not far ahead of him were two boats heading onwards to the next lock. The single hander said that this was the second time he’d set this lock, as when he’d opened it for himself those two boats had sailed straight into it! Cheeky!

The supportive two

I asked if I could help, I’d only lift the paddle on one side as I still had a wobbly head and didn’t want to cross the gates today, he was fine with that. As he rose a boat came from up ahead, advanced crew on a bike, we helped them down then it was Oleanna and Lotte Jane’s turn.

At Stockton Bottom Lock there are always plenty of boats to look at. A motor and butty just above were having the ropes over their sheets removed. The side hatch to a boat alongside the lock was open. Out of the gloom peered a black face. Was this a dog or a small bear? It was hard to tell, but it was certainly interested in what was happening at the lock.


A volunteer came from his hut at the bottom lock of the main flight, cuppa in hand, the single hander being assisted by another boater. The single hander was on a mission to move his Uncles boat from Scarisbrook on the Leeds Liverpool to Cropredy on the Oxford. A steep learning curve as he’d not been boating since he was a teenager, now he was single handing. When he’d set out he’d not known about the landslip on the North Oxford, so he’d had to turn round and head back to go through Birmingham. Today was the first time he’d seen a volunteer, none at Hatton, thankfully the volunteer finished his tea and helped the chap up the rest of flight.

Man on a mission

The boater who’d been helping was asking about the landslip, it is due to open tomorrow at 3pm for limited times as work is still on going in the cutting. He was facing towards Warwick and trying to make his mind up whether to turn round so as to avoid Birmingham.

We followed the single hander up the flight. I’d walk on up ahead to empty the full lock into the intermediate pound whilst Graeme filled the one below. This meant only opening one gate most of the time, my head still not keen on crossing gates so those at the helm did a sterling job of getting into the locks.

Waterproofs now required

After the first lock I swapped my jumper for a waterproof coat as drops of rain were starting to land, by the time we reached the top of the flight it was raining properly. Both boats pulled up on the rings just before Kate Boats. Time for a cuppa and regroup. Clare was on the hunt for a laundrette and up at Ventnor they could accommodate them, so with full waterproofs on they headed onwards without us.

Tilly made the most of a couple of hours of shore leave, but thankfully soon came in as we wanted to move to a lighter mooring and no overhanging trees. It turns out we chose the wettest part of the day to do this! Tying up opposite the long term moorers, a second outside for Tilly today. She wasn’t impressed as it was so wet! The front door also had to be checked to see if the weather was different at that end of the boat. I suppose it was okay

An afternoon of not much, the rain came and went, so did Tilly. So much so that she ran out of ‘Thank you for coming home’ Dreamies! Luckily the man in red had left me several packets when we were in the boring inside in Scarboreugh, so She topped up the tub. However she didn’t let me carry on helping myself! Back to self catering I suppose. There was no need to bring a friend home to make a point, even trying to camouflage it behind a leaf didn’t work! Both Tilly and her friend were picked up and popped back on the towpath, well it was a touch too wet to entertain outside!

Oh! That’s just so mean!!!

10 locks, 2.8 miles, 1 soggy afternoon, 1 volunteer, 2 cheekies, 2 outsides, 1 friend, 1 leaf, 1 restocked Dreamies pot, help they are catnip flavour, 3 more pills, 1 battery delivery, 1 rocket diesel boiler, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.