A half-ten start today saw us heading up through Alrewas village following another boat. I was just setting up, ready to untie when they appeared, rising up Alrewas Lock behind us, so we waited till they’d gone past before moving out ourselves.
I don’t think there’s anything more annoying than seeing frantic activity on a moored boat ahead as they suddenly realise that they’ll be beaten to the next lock. Pins or mooring hooks hastily retrieved and thrown onto the deck, then the boat pushed out into the channel, accompanied by the odd furtive glance over the steerer’s shoulder to see how close the oncoming boat is. Needless to say, such a crew would get no help from me at the next lock!
Alrewas is an old village, not spoiled by the canal running through it. Several thatched cottages still survive in the older part near the church, and there are also some “Chocolate Box” houses near the canal.
I wonder what the occupants of these houses thought when the navigation was being cut on their thresholds? At least the canal wasn’t as intrusive as the HS2 is likely to be!
We had to turn Bagnall Lock, following the other boat. The bottom gates on this lock are notorious for swinging open when the chamber is empty, making for a frustrating time when trying to fill it. The solution used to be to draw half a paddle on the upstream end before shutting the bottom gates, the water flowing in keeping the gates shut. Remember us coming up Aston Lock a few days ago?
Now there’s an elegant and effective solution to the problem…
You wouldn’t have thought that instructions would be necessary though, would you?
We pulled over below Common Lock to collect a bit of wood I spotted while out on my morning run, then caught the lock just nicely as a boat was coming out. This set the pattern for the next two as well, boats coming down leaving gates open for us, and me able to do the same.
Approaching Hunts Lock, effectively “Fradley Bottom”
Nosing into Keeper’s Lock
I’d already spotted that the moorings up here were quiet when I came up first thing on foot, they were even quieter when we arrived, just one boat in residence.
Moored at Fradley Junction
We’ll stay here tonight, maybe tomorrow too. Just around the corner are friends Pam and Terry on NB Rooster’s Rest, and we’ll be getting together at some point.
We got all the way here under lowering skies, and since we’ve tied up the forecasted rain has been on and off. I’ve knocked up a batch of “melting moments” biscuits and a sponge pudding for afters tonight, in between reading David Blagrove’s The Quiet Waters By.
Andy Bayley, who visited while we were in Loughborough, lent me his collection of the “Working Waterways” series, published by M&M Baldwin. A fascinating look into a lost way of life on the cut, and of the women volunteers who manned the boats during WWII.
Locks 4, miles 2