Liquorice. 21st June

Frimley Lodge Park to Brookwood Country Park

Cormorant taking off

Knowing that the going was likely to be slow heading for the top of the locks we set off at 8:30 an hour before we were due. Fairly soon I was sent up to the bow to distribute the weight better, around 50 minutes later we arrived.

No boats!

There were four boats heading down the locks today, us, NB Olive and two others, there was no sign of them they must have already been ahead. One BCA van arrived and drove on down to the next lock, soon followed by a second one. Our instructions were to wait above the top lock, not to even fill it, someone would be with us in a while. They headed off to the next lock too.

Into the top lock at 10:28

NB Olive arrived and there was time to have quite a lengthy chat on the towpath. Chris the lock keeper walked up to see us. Now if there was bad news he would be just the chap to send to tell us, however he had good news. The other two boats had got through the problem lock, the whole team were there to assist and were awaiting our arrival. The lock was filled, Mick brought Oleanna into the lock. Then from behind we heard ‘CAT’S OUT’ One of Olive’s cats had spotted an opportunity and jumped ship! I think it was Liquorice, a shy cat who rarely comes when called. What to do?

Oleanna crew present and correct

As cat owners we knew the worst thing we could do was offer to help get the cat back. Tilly runs a mile when people try to help. We backed off. Discussions were had with Chris. Could they stay and go down on maybe Monday? Could we wait a while to see if the cat would come back? Phone calls were made ahead to the person in charge. It had to be today, all the team were out to assist, they just needed to get them down through the troublesome lock and then they could come back to find the cat. I suggested that maybe Mum should stay with a cat carrier and anything they thought might help and wait for Liquorice, at least then she wouldn’t be totally abandoned.

Going down

We dropped Oleanna and Olive down and headed on to the next lock. Five members of the team were there waiting. The lock was full. The top gates were opened. No-one was allowed to be in the lock, so engines off and each boat was bow hauled by the crew into the lock. The top gates shut and one paddle lifted, both boats held away from the bottom gates.

Last Friday a boat had hit the near side gate, opening up the mortice and tenon joint into the heel post. The gate had also been pushed out of square, twisted. When they took down the first two boats the gate needed five of them to slam it shut, now a ratchet strap was in place holding it slightly squarer, however they could see that it had dropped. But thankfully both boats were now down and through the lock, we could continue as normal down the flight.

The lock heros

No news from the top of the locks, still no cat. I walked ahead, filled the next lock and opened the gates. It was decided that on leaving I’d open the gate in front of Olive, Mick would bring Oleanna across to use the same gate, saving me quite a bit of walking and pushing and pulling. Then because you leave these locks empty and with gates open I could walk on ahead to set the next lock. Sadly the distances between locks are that bit too far to set ahead and return to open gates, especially with a gammy knee.

Heading to Lock 26

I looked back over my shoulder to see Josh on NB Olive heading straight across the pound towards the offside bank, struggling with the tiller. The rudder had been knocked out of it’s cup as he came out of the lock. Mick went to assist, pulling Olive away from the far bank and assisting Josh to the bank where he hopped off and pulled back onto the lock landing. The boats could have been breasted up, but the width and depth of channel would likely make that impossible. Josh said we should carry on, not much we could help with, muscle and possibly a dry suit would be needed to get things back working.

On our own

We carried on alone. Lock after lock. Walking between locks and round them to lift paddles, I’d certainly be getting my steps in today even with hobbling. A pause in a lock for a comfort break and some flapjack was required.

A snake joined us in one lock

Going down the locks is far more work. The first half of the flight the boats ahead had closed the bottom gates and paddles, I just needed to fill each one and then down we could go. About half way down the occasional paddle was up on the bottom gates, more walking round required. Plenty of people walking dogs, one chap with ten, yes ten woofers. He didn’t seem too bothered about the fence keeping his dogs away from the shooting ranges.

The bollards get in the way of the gates, so you need to lift the beams

A couple stopped to chat to Mick. Did we know there was a boat following us? A few locks away, two Lock Keepers helping. I started to close the bottom gates and paddles as much as I could without too many extra steps.

Bottom of the Deepcut flight

The bottom of the flight was a nice site, time to have a breather before the Brookwood flight of three. As we popped out from under the bridge two friendly faces appeared on the towpath. Kath and Sean had come to help us down.

Happy chap waving to us, is this the house where Mick Gemson grew up?

With three of us I could walk on down to the next lock to set it leaving Sean and Kath to lift paddles and open and close gates. By the time Oleanna was going into the middle lock Sarah one of the rangers had arrived in her van to work the top lock for Olive.

Extra crew Kath and Sean

We were asked to lift a paddle to fill the locks as we left, then we waited in the last lock. The two boats that had started out together this morning were sharing the last lock of the day. Sadly still no good news from the top lock about Liquorice. Sarah and Chris closed up behind us. Thank you guys for all your help today. Chris give Josh a fist bump, between the two of them they’d got the rudder back in it’s cup, steering was now possible, even though it didn’t quite feel right.

Exiting the bottom lock with Olive at 16:40

Kath and Sean walked to the Brookwood Country Park there to assist with ropes on the mooring. Both boats pulled in and eventually we were moored up with land access from the bow only.

Mooring up at a distance

Time to walk up through the park to visit Kath and Sean’s house. They moved to Knaphill a couple of years ago and at last we were here to see their new (to them) house. A lovely house with a nice garden and plenty of room for them and all their things. We had a very lovely evening with yummy food and wine and conversation. A little bit pooped we left just as the sun was going down. Some more steps to add to the days tally ending up with 20,714, 8.5 miles! I wonder if I’ll be able to walk in the morning?

Ayckbourn first night glasses

17 locks, 5 miles, 4 locks shared, 1 lock bow hauled, 5 extra crew, 5 cats in the locks not 6, 1 awol cat, 2 extra crew, 3 slices of flapjack, 1 wiggly walk up the hill, 1 straight forward walk down the hill, 1 set of plans, 1 aching knee, 1 very bored Tilly safe inside Oleanna, 2 boaters and 1 cat hoping for good news in the morning.

2 thoughts on “Liquorice. 21st June

  1. Christine Geraghty

    A very busy day, glad you ended it with the visit. Hope your leg isn’t too troublesome.

    1. Pip Post author

      Thank you Christine. It was lovely to visit Kath and Sean’s and have their help at the locks


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