Thursday 14th June; Hill Farm Marina to somewhere south of Lowsonford
With storm Hector in the news we expected a damp trip back to the boat but it was dry - though with a very stiff breeze as we unloaded the car. We saw the difficulties experienced by a boat coming in to the marina so Dave had a bit of a think (and a cup of tea) before we cast off. Luckily, with no boat next to us we could leave our pontoon at an angle and didn’t get blown onto the boats opposite.
We are back to the land of the pretty bridges. These are called split bridges; the towpath doesn’t go under the bridge, as on other canals, so this design with a gap between the two halves was adopted. The tow rope could pass between the two halves of the bridge and the horse did not have to be unhitched.
Most of the ‘splits’ have been filled in – I suppose a sheep, or a small child, could get their foot trapped down the gap – but some bridges are still the way they were intended to be, like this one which has a gap of a few inches in the middle.
It was very quiet boatwise. We picked up something on the prop and although a burst of reverse seemed to clear it a couple of times it got worse, so eventually Dave went down the weed hatch once we had come up Preston Bagot lock.
It was all chopped bits of waterside plants and grass, caught round a couple of tough long stems of some wild plant. At least it could be left under a hedge and didn’t have to go into the well-deck to be disposed of later. Preston Bagot lock is the one with the strikingly adapted lock cottage with mirrored windows.
There used to be a Reliant Robin in a tree in the garden below that lock. Last time we passed, it was still there though looking very uncared-for and green with algae. But the hedges are so thick and high I couldn’t see anything.
We passed just one boat on the move after that. At Bucket lock the pawl catch was thick with grease which I didn’t notice till too late …. Well, there’s a bit less now, I wiped it off my fingers onto the grass (and not the paddle stand as some people had).
Yarningale must be the smallest aqueduct on the network, if not the world - a boat’s length, if that.
One more lock, and we were mooring on a 1-boat length of piling in a peaceful rural spot. There was pineapple weed on the towpath – if you crush it (or step on it, as I did while mooring) it releases a sweet scent. The picture makes it look very tall but it’s really just a low-growing little thing with pretty feathery foliage.
The sheep are a bit noisy but we don’t mind that. We are close to a flightpath, presumably to Birmingham airport, so that is a minor annoyance. Apart from that it is a beautiful calm evening with all that blustery wind blown on somewhere else.
Unfortunately there is no mobile signal or internet here, so this blog won’t be posted on time (no change there then!)
3½ miles, 6 locks, 2 aqueducts (Wootton Wawen and Yarningale).