Friday 29th August
Another evening with poor Internet reception, so posting will have to wait.
With no sign of activity from the only boats pointing our way, we tootled gently up the the bottom of Hatton locks. Anticipating a long hard morning, we only opened one paddle at each set of gates to save our energies. We dawdled our way along to the second lock, but still with no activity behind us, so we set our faces forward and slowly but steadily up we went. I missed some lovely damsons near the bottom of the flight, where the locks are widely spaced, as I didn’t have a container – not even a hat – but grabbed one later to get some blackberries along the way. Dave nipped over to the garage near Ugly Bridge for a paper (he needed to read the report on last night’s Spurs match). We passed a couple of boats coming down soon after that, but generally it was very quiet – not even any walkers.
But just as we were getting into the swing of locking ahead once the locks were close enough together, a volunteer appeared, closely followed by two others! and suddenly a load of strollers. So for the second half of the flight all I had to do was take the rope and wind down the occasional paddle. Of course we were both fully occupied talking to the gongoozlers with the usual questions. Here’s a new one though, from one of the children peering down into the cratch in an empty lock – “Could you jump into the boat from here?” Actually no – the cratch cover was in the way!
Here’s one of the lovely volunteers – I’ve cropped the picture as it was full of children and I don’t publish photos of kids unless I’ve asked the parents first.
He volunteers at the Napton flight on his other day. He said they regularly get 60 boats a day on that flight, but only up to 20 at Hatton even when it’s busy. He thinks it’s to do with the number of hire fleets in the area, which is probably right – there's only Kate Boats at Warwick, and what new hirer is going to want to go up 21 locks on their first day? Anyway, it was extremely quiet for a Friday in the school holidays – we only passed 4 boats on the flight in total.
After taking on water at the top and emptying a cassette, we were moored up and having lunch an hour earlier than we thought we would be. By the time we got going again it was chilly and the sun had gone. Shrewley tunnel was very wet – luckily we were warned by a boat coming through! The photo shows the northern portal with the towpath tunnel above to the right. (I don’t think the bridge is really tilted over like that though).
Although rain was threatening it didn’t come to much, and it was dry enough when we stopped at Rowington for Dave to spend the rest of the afternoon down the engine hole, checking oil, degreasing and generally cleaning up. After prepping some baking I went off for a run and left him to it.
When I got back I popped the flapjack in the oven and made an apple and blackberry pudding with the blackberries from this morning and windfalls from home. Yum!
Wet this evening, but the forecast is better.
21 locks (mostly not done by us), 5 and a half miles, Shrewley tunnel