Friday 8th April
A beautifully sunny morning to get up to and I joined the Saturday morning Parkrun. Parkruns are runs 5k long, take place in parks all over the world and are free – at the moment - for anyone to take part in – and they love having runners who are not local. As a Parkrun ‘tourist’ I have run at Marple and Aylesbury as well, though only once at my ‘home’ one in Exeter – somehow running at 9 in the morning is easier when we are on the boat! Stratford parkrun is in the park opposite the theatre. It was so warm that I wished I’d worn shorts.
By 11 we were leaving Stratford. The first four locks were all against us, but with a constant supply of walkers and gongoozlers there was plenty of help available at the dreaded Manchester Road lock. We needed quite urgently to empty a couple of cassettes. The Elsan point is at Valley Cruisers, and as two of their boats had just come in and were being cleaned, refuelled etc we had to breast up. But they had moored in such a way that we could get a cassette fairly easily across the cruiser stern of the outer one and the well deck of the inner. I had a good nose inside the 4-berth while we waited – it didn’t look too bad, with a better cooker than ours and nicer coloured wood, but rather bare inside as hire boats tend to be.
We moored at Chaly Beate again for water, arriving in time to avoid a heavy shower, then went a little further to moor on the long stretch below Wilmcote locks for lunch. The heavy rain looked as though it had set in for the afternoon, but we didn’t want to stop there for the day as the motorbikes on the scrambling course over the way were extremely loud. In the end they were rained off, but we decided to go up the locks anyway when the rain eased off a bit later. A hire boat had come out of the bottom lock as we were pulling in, and we assumed they had left the bottom gate open thinking we were about to go up. But no! Every single bottom gate was open, with the paddle still up, except for the lock in the middle where the householder had gone out and closed up. It was all ok till we got to the third from top, when Dave spotted the water level in the pound above.
We had already let one lock of water down by the time I took this. A cruiser was in the middle lock; they had also had three drained pounds in the Wolverhampton flight a couple of weeks before, though that was due to vandalism rather than stupidity/ignorance/laziness as here. It’s a shame there were no volunteers on duty today – they would have prevented the problem in the first place. Three locks’ worth saw us able to pass each other in the pound, and as the top pound was ok and the bywash was still running we left it at that. Rather than lions or something grand on their gateposts, the house in the middle of the flight had a tortoise on one and what looked like a walrus on the other …..
We moored again at Wilmcote above the winding hole. Four or five boat lengths of mooring have been fenced off because of a collapsing wall. Luckily there is a fair bit of room further along, but it’s bound to cause problems when it gets busier in a few weeks’ time.
We just managed to get tied up before another downpour. But fire lit, chicken in the oven for tea and we were set for the evening. It’s the first time I have cooked a roast on the boat – it was lovely and I don’t think it will be the last.
16 locks 3 and a half miles