Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Too good to miss…

What a beautiful day today! Crisp white snow, blue skies, birds singing. I can understand why they kept the schools closed for another day….
We were off, and in Dimmingsdale Lock, by 10:00 this morning. A bit slippery on the lockside, but good to be moving again.

Dimmingsdale Lock

Ebstree and Awbridge Locks were next, taking us towards The Bratch, with it’s unusual flight of 3 close-together locks.

The Orton Hills rise to the east
The architecture on these locks is interesting. There’s the circular bywash weirs, the little brick bridges across the tail of the lock chambers, and the pierced parapet of Awbridge Lock Bridge.

Bywash weir at Ebstree Lock. This one’s more shield shaped, though.
Tail Bridge at Dimmingsdale Lock
Awbridge Lock Bridge (taken yesterday)

We arrived at Bratch Locks at around 11:00. This is a known bottleneck in the summer, as the 3 locks have to be treated as a staircase as far as passage is concerned, although they each have gates at both ends. The problem is that to get down the slope as quickly as possible, the chambers were built with very short pounds in between, too short for boats to pass. The water needed to fill each lock is stored in side pounds, which are filled or drawn from as required.

Bratch Top Lock
Into the middle lock, with octagonal toll office….
And finally the bottom lock.

Mags is the star of several photo albums today. These locks always make a good photo opportunity, but with the day as it was, the gongoozlers were out in force!
The “proper” 2 rise staircase at Botterham takes the canal out of the modern housing around Wombourne. By this time we’d some grey clouds rolling in, but the threatened snow didn’t arrive.

Botterham Staircase Locks
We were making such good time that we chose to press on, through the 2 locks, one either end of the village of Swindon, and moored just below Swindon Bridge after a 3½ hour trip.

I took Meg out for a walk, along the towpath to Greensforge Lock. There’s a BW maintenance yard at the wharf, and I had a word with the guys about access to the wharf for a Tesco delivery. No problem during the day, so I’ve organised a supply drop for tomorrow lunchtime.

We came back over a footpath which crosses the high ground to the west. You can tell the snow is starting to thaw; she came back mucky today!

Locks 11, miles 4

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