Monday, 6 May 2013

Kingswood to Radford Road bridge

Bank Holiday Monday.
We set off by 9.30, having had a cooked breakfast to set us up for the Hatton flight. On our way through the beautiful countryside we heard willow warblers, chiffchaffs, saw the first cuckoo flowers, and plenty of butterflies – orange tips, peacocks, a brimstone and even a couple of the first blues of the year, holly blues, as we came down the locks. We passed more spectacular trees in blossom.  Everything seems to be bursting into bloom at the same time trying to catch up after the cold spring.

amazing blossom guc

The distant building below is a cider house. A few years ago we moored at Turner’s Green hoping to eat at the Tom o’ the Wood, but it had closed; we moored out in the countryside and Dave walked back to the bridge and along the busy road to see if this pub served food. No food, and no beer either – cider only! Though it was very pretty.
cider house at rowington

We passed several areas where the bank had collapsed in the wet winter; this slip had obviously been quite serious.
landslip on the grand union

The blossom has been amazing this year, with the wild cherries and blackthorn still going strong.  The dandelions are pretty spectacular too!  The traditional day to pick them for wine-making is St George's Day (23rd April) when in a normal spring they are at their most numerous, but this year they seem to have only just got into their stride.
only dandelions but arent they fab

As we got closer to Shrewley Tunnel, we were hailed by nb Rivendell who asked if we would wait for them at the locks, which we were happy to do.  By now it was a glorious day and the sun was very hot.  Shrewley tunnel is extremely wet and we could see the hot roof of the boat steaming as the drips hit it.
We started down the flight around 11.30. Here we are coming down from the top lock. The paddle gear is heavy work and Debby was glad of the long-throw windlass.
approaching hatton 2 down

As it was Bank Holiday Monday, gongoozlers were everywhere and the crew had to pick their way through the crowds.
cant move for gongoozlers

This sculpture is near the top of the flight.
sculpture on hatton flight

Rivendell is a syndicate boat based currently at Brinklow. Together we had 3 crew and we worked as an efficient team as we went down the flight – matched only by Dave and Poppy at their respective helms, slipping gently into every lock together even though the boats were not roped up.
Although the gongoozlers often got in the way near the top of the flight, there were several worth their weight in gold on this hot day, especially a family were from Solihull who helped us down several locks - particularly this little girl who was stronger than she looked!
two brilliant helpers

The sun was so hot that the grease packed into the paddle gear started to melt and run down towards the ‘user end’, dribbling onto the U-shaped ‘claw’ that holds the paddle up, so you got it on your hands.  I tried to find out the proper name for the ‘claw’, but this seems to be the term in general use.  I did discover the correct term for the equivalent on ‘normal’ paddle gear is pawl, which we hadn't known.  By the last lock the liquefying grease had reached the spindle and so it got on the windlass, so a messy time was had by the crew. We stopped below the flight for some lunch – here is Rivendell on the way to the Saltisford Arm.
goodbye to rivendell

We stopped to take on water below Cape Locks. We had been told that the pub has unfortunately been closed for a couple of weeks, or we might have stopped there; a local told us that it was expected to be open again quite soon, so maybe next time.  We opted to push on, crossing the aqueduct over the Avon on the edge of Warwick, towards Radford Semele to get out into the countryside again.
avon aqueduct

We moored for the evening shortly after Radford Road Bridge, glad to be out in the countryside again.
23 locks.

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