Friday 28 August 2020

Three aqueducts in one day

Sunday 16th August; Wilmcote to Dick’s Lane lock

It didn’t rain much overnight, and though it was overcast when we got up it was dry.  I had a pleasant walk over the bridge and up to the village shop for the Sunday paper.

We left at 9.30, and throughout the morning there were intermittent gleams of sunshine.  The South Stratford is known for its split bridges, which have a gap in the deck for a towrope to pass through without needing to be unhitched from the horse. 

Of course, having the bridge spanning the towpath would do that too ….  but split bridges must have been a lot cheaper to build, because the bridge holes are barely wide enough for a boat to pass - and most of them show clear evidence of past impacts.

We were soon crossing Edstone aqueduct, where several walkers were being careful with their social distancing, and one runner with dog attached who would not wait for people to clear the bridge before he heavy-breathed across.  As you can see the towpath is not exactly wide.

We soon passed Hill Farm marina, where we moored Chuffed for a few weeks when it had only just opened with minimal facilities.  Look at it now!  It has a restaurant (casual dining with bar) and I expect the sanitary facilities are more sophisticated than tipping your cassette straight into the sewer!

 Normally we would have stopped at Wootton Wawen and maybe gone up to the village shop which sells tasty dog treats, and had a look at the small shop units close to the canal, but not today.  The aqueduct is short compared with Edstone, but just as high.

All the Anglo-Welsh hire boats were out.  We have seen lots of hire-boaters this time, good thing too I think.  It was lovely weather by the time we were at Preston Bagot locks.  At the bottom lock there was a lot of expensive camera equipment and a stunning model wearing a gorgeous pair of pale grey suede heels, not at all suited to the towpath!  They were very friendly and made a big fuss of Meg.  Chuffed’s crew, still with her lockdown hair, was rather less soignée than the model.

We stopped for lunch below Bucket lock.  The weather was still quite sunny with a good drying wind so I did a bit of washing, expecting it to dry quickly in the open cratch.  It was not a good decision as it turned out, although the sun was still shining as we crossed a small stream on the tiny Yarningale aqueduct.

We could have stopped at Lowsonford, where there was space, but opted to go on a bit further towards Kingswood Junction.  Another wrong decision – as we reached the lock by the motorway bridge the threatening clouds had covered the sky and we could hear thunder.  Suddenly it was hammering down and my shoes were full of water within seconds.  At least I had my waterproof jacket on and had just zipped up the cratch cover!   The rain was relentless as we rose up the next lock.  I sped on to Dick’s Lane lock and didn’t hear Dave’s tooting and yelling that we could be mooring below, as I couldn’t hear a thing above the storm.  So one more lock and at last we were moored.  Waterproofs dripping in the cratch, carefully hung round that wet washing which hadnt dried in the wind, my upside-down shoes draining on the well deck floor, the sodden mats from the top step (the sliding hatch was unslid for a whole ten seconds) draining in the shower with my wet shorts and underwear chucked onto the tray …. finally we could put the kettle on.  But the dramas were not over – half an hour after sitting down, there was a shouted message that the canal was flooding over the towpath – so I put my wet shorts and soggy waterproof back on to go out and slacken the ropes.  The boat in front did theirs shortly after.

The canal had risen 6” since we had moored.  We weren’t concerned that we would get floated onto the towpath as we weren’t far above a lock and there was plenty of downhill for the water to flow away, though the boat behind us was less confident and put a board and a pole between the hull and the bank. The rain had stopped by 7.30 so we went out for a walk to see how things were.  The canal had dropped enough for the top of the piling hook to be clearly visible, but the water was orange with yet more topsoil lost from the fields.

Water had stopped flooding over the lock gate, but the surface was covered in small bits of rotting vegetation washed off the banks.

We walked on above the next lock but then rain threatened once more so back we went to avoid the next downpour, leaving the ropes loose in case the canal rose again. 

Edstone, Wootton Wawen and Yarningale aqueducts, 9 miles, 15 locks and thunderstorms



1 comment:

  1. I never understand why people are so paranoid about floating over the towpath. After all, if a boat has a 2ft draught, the water would need to be at least 2ft above the towpath -- and that's really not likely, especially in a flight of locks.