Whitley Bridge 47 to Power Station Footbridge, Oxford Canal
Better weather today and an earlier start for us than normal, we had water to cover.
Boats were already going up the locks ahead of us so we pulled out and joined in. NB Piglet was just pulling out of the first lock of the day, NB Trinity waiting below, we pulled up to wait our turn. The pound between this and the next lock is quite short, NB Piglet and NB Trinity ended up both sitting waiting in it, the level slightly low.
Up went Piglet, I waited for Trinity to start emptying the lock before I started to fill the lower one, not wanting to steal the water that was keeping them afloat. We then pulled out and awaited our turn as a single hander came down.
The pound between locks 8 and 7 was quite low, a couple of boats moored on it were definitely sat on the bottom. NB Trinity was having difficulty getting into the next lock. Pulling on the bow line didn’t help, pushing them over to the other side didn’t either. So some water was let down hoping to lift them off of the bottom and get into the lock. With water coming down and a diagonal pull on the bow they got moving just as two C&RT volunteer Lockies arrived. They set about running more water down to try to return the pound to a better level without starving others above.
Our turn, we suspected our draught was deeper. Oleanna got stuck sooner, Mick reversed her back a touch and tried a different line. Definitely a build up of silt from a bywash, he got her closer to the lock where she stopped again. I got the bow rope, water was let down and bursts of engine got her moving again and over the lump into the lock. Apparently they had had a single hander on the flight who’d been leaving paddles up, not good practice espcially when there isn’t plenty of water about!
Some boats were pausing for lunch in the longer pound, others stopping to go shopping, but we carried on, too far to go today and the locks were taking that bit longer than normal. More water was let down by the lockies doing their best to get boats floating again. One chap came past enquiring as to when his boat would be off the bottom, just as water was flowing straight through a lock. Have to say if that was us, we’d move our boat at the first opportunity not stay put for a full two weeks and complain about it. But each to their own!
We carried on up, boats now coming down the flight, most stopping to wait above lock 5 and taking advantage of the water point there. A slight pause below lock 2 for a boat coming downhill and then we were on our way again and at the top of the flight. After half a mile or so we pulled over for some lunch before carrying on.
I retired below to work as Mick pootled us through Mancetter, Hartshill, past our favourite mooring near Springwood Haven, slow going through Nuneaton.
At Marston Junction I stuck my hand out of the side hatch to give navigational direction to keep going straight.
I only just made it out in time to take a photo of the last mannequins at Charity Wharf before they all disappeared behind the willow trees.
Approaching Hawkesbury Junction the moorings were full, a couple of git gaps with familiar culprets in the middle of them. Mick carried on would we have arrived in time to get a mooring anywhere?
I hopped off at the Engine House Footbridge and walked across the grass to Sutton Stop Lock. A Kate Hire boat was coming the other way, the lock in their favour. Outside the pub was heaving and a young lady stopped and asked for directions to the Ricoh Arena. I was able to point her in the right direction to follow the canal.
The hire boat were wanting to moor up in front of the pub,I suggested that was maybe not such a good idea as the 180 degree turn from the Coventry Canal for a 70ft boat would necessitate the full amount of space there. They’d be shouted at by the first boat to come through, as soon as they were out of the lock they could see what I meant and rounded the bend to find a mooring.
Up we went and then started to look for somewhere to pull up. Rather than moor right on a bend we carried on and found space where we’d moored last year very close to the power station. We’d reached our destination with enough time for Tilly to do some hunting and Mick to have a towpath haircut.
Today we passed through the pound from Atherstone to Hawkesbury in 5 hours 13 minutes, last year it took us 32 days, 2 hours and 55 minutes!
As the evening went on we could hear music from the Arena. Sadly I hadn’t spotted any ticket towts near the Greyhound Inn so we had to make do with the muffled music from the Arena. A shame as Mick had so wanted to see the Spice Girls!
10 locks, 12.96 miles, 2 canals, 1 straight on, 180 degrees left, 2 stuck boats, 15 tissues all day, 1 painting scheme started, 2 friends, 1 quite tasty, 1 sour dough loaf, 4 Spice Girls, 0 tickets.