Thursday 5 April 2018

Uphill now then back again

Thursday 5th April; Dunhampstead to Hanbury junction via Astwood locks

What a glorious sunny day!  We were lingering over a cuppa in the sunshine and watching the hire boats making for Worcester; six in about ten minutes.  They would have been queueing for the locks all the way down to Worcester.  Never mind, we were going the other way!  We set off soon after 10, meeting nobody – they had already gone by.  Meg found plenty to keep an eye on this morning.

1 meg keeping watch

Every time we pass the New and Used Boat Co at Hanbury junction we marvel at the presence of widebeams on a narrow canal.  Does someone live in them or are they actually for sale?

2 widebeams on a narrow canal

As we passed the visitor moorings at the junction we saw a boat which passed us twice yesterday and then again this morning.  We wondered if they were hanging about waiting for water levels to go down so they could get to Droitwich.  We weren’t sure if we liked the name though – Adventure before Dementia.  Witty, but rather implies we are all headed that way …..

It was at last feeling like spring.  The chiffchaffs have returned and are staking out their patches with their characteristic calls.  And I got some decent pictures of lambs.  We saw our first ones yesterday but it was raining, and they were inconsiderately all behind the hedge.  These were watching us approach till one decided we were a bit scary

3 a bold lamb and a scaredy one

and trotted off to hide behind Mum.

4 hiding behind mum

There is a long straight before Astwood bottom lock and in the distance we could see a boat coming out.  As we got closer we could see it was CRT – they moored and walked back up to the lock.  Oh good, we thought, they’ll work us through.  Not a chance – off they walked, though they did leave the gates open.  They had moored their push tug and pan (or is it a flat?  I get confused with the terminology) on the lock moorings, and left a full length one on the top moorings.  Why do they do this?  Can’t they afford piling hooks and moor in the proper place like normal boaters?  You can hardly blame hire boats if they do the same when they see this as an example.

5 crt on lock landing  6 crt on lock landing

We rose up the second lock and I could see a boat just about to come down the third.  Their hopes of getting a lock all ready for them were quickly dashed - Dave was only winding and we were going back down again!  It doesn’t look to be a difficult turn, but the local hire boaters are warned that a 57’ boat can’t turn there.  We have winded there before but it’s not easy, and this time the water from the lock above arrived just in time to catch the stern and push it back the way he had come.

8 winding 

He made it though and while I waited I admired the lovely cockerel and his hens from the lock cottage.

7 beautiful fowl at astwood lane bridge lock

The owners have installed a couple of guards for the veg patch.  I love this one with his glasses and knitted waistcoat.

9 new gnomes in the lock cottage garden

We moored a couple of hundred yards below the lock for an early lunch.  This is one of our favourite things about boating – sitting at our table (we have a Pullman dinette) in the sunshine, with a nice cup of tea and a lovely view.

10 lovely mooring below astwood lane bridge

After lunch we got our walking boots on, picked up the footpath at the bottom lock and went off round the National Trust parkland of Hanbury Hall, hoping to get back to the canal further along the flight.  It’s popular with families and walkers and there are so many paths we got ourselves on the wrong one and found ourselves off the map.  That’s the trouble with Nicholson’s, if you go too far from the canal you get lost.  In such lovely weather it didn’t matter too much.  We found our way back and Meg had a great time.  The parkland is well cared for, with young trees protected from sheep and deer, and dead trees are left for the benefit of wildlife rather than being cleared away making for a striking sight.

13 lovely dead tree

This gate is on the path to the church so it’s a bit fancier than the others.

12 ornate NT gate

Every now and then we came across a patch of white violets on the roadside or by the towpath.

11 white violets

On a more prosaic note, Dave decided it was time the brasses had a bit of attention.

15 brasses need doing  17 thats better

Before ….                                                        and after.

We moved down closer to the junction so we could go to the pub for a meal.  The CRT workboats had been moved from the lock down to the visitor moorings – work is planned on a bit of collapsed towpath according to the notices.  We were rather glad we’d moored a few hundred yards out as the moorings both sides of the bridge and above the Hanbury locks were full.

4 locks, 5 miles

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