Wednesday 27th September; Blackpole to Dunhampstead
We got up to a quiet, grey morning. We weren’t planning to have a long day today, so took the opportunity for a good walk round Perdiswell Park. It seems to be a continuation of the sports field at Bilford Top lock, and consists of tracks for walking through rough meadow ….
and mown areas with trees …
and you suddenly realise you are walking around and through a golf course. At first glance I thought these golfers were parents with baby buggies.
We returned to Chuffed over the bridge. We met the lady with the dogs as we came off the bridge.
She had five dogs with her, and it was her third walk of the morning. She breeds pointers for show and runs a boarding kennel as well. The one not on the lead is a retired stud dog – a beautiful boy with lovely manners. The boat that tucked in behind us last night was crewed by a couple who don’t like mooring on their own, especially round towns. We slipped our moorings at 10.15 and found the first few locks against us. At Tolladine lock there were some late blackberries, enough to pick a good bowlful. With them were some gleaming privet berries, good food for birds though they are poisonous to humans and dogs.
At Offerton bottom lock it was annoying to find a flat laden with something – didn’t notice what, as I was too busy grumbling to myself about CRT (or contractors) who plonk their boats right in the middle of lock moorings leaving just one bollard at either end.
If you look closely you will see a green flag attached to the post at the bottom of the footbridge. At the next lock, where we met a boat coming down, there were more and then we met a chap with a high-vis waistcoat over a Macmillan T-shirt. We were about to witness the employees of Npower participating in a 5k run for the cancer charity.
The turning point was below the top lock. The first to pass us were of course ‘real’ runners, as opposed to people who had not run before who came along later. They clearly had the morning off and it sounded as though they were getting lunch provided when they got back. I hope they had enough showers – some were very hot indeed. Near the top of the flight we encountered a large band of volunteers, hard at work edging the grass and removing weeds from the lock surrounds, as well as greasing the paddle gear. They didn’t have windlasses but helped with the gates.
The runners were still passing and there was a near-collision between volunteer and runner at one point.
The paddle gear on the top lock was nicely greased and very easy to operate. We pottered on to Tibberton, where we stopped for lunch and I managed to catch the little shop before it closed – early closing on a Wednesday. I got the paper but they only had 4-litre bottles of milk, which are too big for the fridge. We should have enough milk to tide us over so I wasn’t too bothered.
With the leaves beginning to fall, clumps of mistletoe were becoming obvious. This tree looks as though it’s on the way out though.
We had hoped to stop at the little mooring opposite Oddingley church, but someone had nabbed it. As we wondered whether to squeeze in behind him, a train blasted its siren and zoomed over the level crossing, and we changed our minds. We don’t mind trains at close quarters, but not when they nee-naw for level crossings.
The Dunhampstead moorings were nearly empty. We stopped right at the beginning, just past the permanent moorings, on a patch unshaded by trees. There was a little sun to be enjoyed by now, but we wanted to be away from trees as it’s prime acorn-drop season and there is rain forecast. In fact Dave was just about to start touching up the blacking when it started. It was fairly light though, so I still went for my run. I thought I’d go over Dunhampstead tunnel but somehow failed to find the path down to the far portal and found myself on the road to Shernal Green. Meanwhile Dave took Meg out, to scope out the pub as well as for her walk. He found the Fir Tree was closed till the weekend. Boo! I used the last of the milk for a lasagne.
The rain turned heavy and we were glad we had stayed in after all. We could hear the trains passing the Oddingley level crossing but the noise ceased to register after a while.
4½ miles, 8 locks