Friday, March 28, 2008

Today’s plan was to get a fairly early start on the locks heading up to Kiverton Park, and see how we got on. As it was, the wet and windy weather we woke up to made us rethink our strategy.
Carol was not keen on taking Corbiere up; it’s hard work single-handed when there’s a wind blowing. I wanted to go, so she volunteered to crew for us. This had the benefit of speeding up our ascent, taking some of the workload from Mags, and still giving Carol the opportunity to see the last section of the canal.
So off we went at 12:00, as the weather seemed to be improving a little (the rain had eased).

The first lock, Boundary Lock, was approached with Carol on the tiller and me on the bank, and we stayed with this arrangement, with some minor variations, up the flights.

Boundary Lock. Only 22 to go!
All of the locks are relatively shallow, so are fairly quick to fill, and all bar one of the first handful were in our favour.
Passing through the first staircase, Thorpe Double Bottom Lock, we met Trevor, the local BW man. He had nothing on till 2, so kindly went ahead and set all the locks ready for us. Of the 23 to do there are 2 double and 2 triple staircases (where the top gate of one chamber forms the bottom of the next), and 13 individual locks. All are in good condition (let’s face it, they don’t get much use) and are set in beautiful woodland, with views opening up to the east as we climbed. If this ascent were on a more popular waterway, it would be considered one of the best. As it is, it is mostly unknown. Better for those who come here of course, no queues!

Posh houses near Turnerwood Lock. Even the ratchets on the paddles didn’t click to disturb the peace!
Brickyard Double Lock, Worksop in the distance.
Into Thorpe Bottom Lock. 5 to Go!
With the extra crew and BW assistance we made it to the top lock after just less than 3 hours, a good hour less than I had anticipated.

The last staircase, Top Treble Locks.
The next 1½ miles are still through attractive woodland, the channel being shallow and narrow. At Kiverton Park civilisation encroaches again, and the last few hundred yards take you past the backs of buildings and the railway station on the top of a cutting.

Carol “jumped ship” here, her parents came up from Worksop to drop her back at Shireoaks.
We turned at the last winding hole, moored on the visitor moorings, and I walked the last bit with Meg to the closed portal of Norwood Tunnel.

End of the line for boats

To be honest, it was a bit of an anticlimax. Just a bricked-up tunnel, fronted with weed. It’s a shame there are no information boards around just to let visitors know what they’re looking at.

Norwood Tunnel

We weren’t inspired by the VM at Kiverton Park either, so headed back towards the locks.

Kiverton Park VM

We moored about halfway back to the locks, on a bit of forgotten wharf. I had to dig the mooring rings out of the undergrowth!

I’m not making any apologies for most of today’s photos being of locks. After all, they were a major part of the day!

The weather wasn’t as bad as it could have been. There were some lengthy damp spells, but only one short heavy shower. In between we caught odd flashes of the sun. With the wooded banks, the wind was not as much of a problem as it might have been.

No other boats on the move, of course.

Locks 23, miles 5

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