It was fine yesterday, so we decided to make a good day of it. We left the Duddleston Bridge moorings at around a quarter to ten, heading north with the breeze behind us.
There are two lift bridges between where we’d moored and Whitchurch, and we were being followed by a Black Prince hire boat, so I waved them through after Mags. They would open the next one, only a few hundred yards down, and wave us through in turn. It didn’t quite work that way, a boat coming the other way let them through, then closed it before we got there. But the Black Prince crew pulled in and walked back to open it for us anyway. What a considerate thought.
Passing the hire base at Whitchurch Marina, boats stacked up a bit now the Easter rush is over.
There were a couple of boats waiting to come through New Mills Lift Bridge alongside the Whitchurch Arm, with some confusion as to who was going where, but we got through after a 5 minute delay and headed down to the top of Grindley Brook Locks. The six locks here drop the canal down 41’, with a triple staircase then three single chambers spaced out over a quarter-mile below.
There were a couple of volunteer lock-keepers on the staircase, they’d seen us coming so had set them up for us ready. So as soon as I’d dropped off the rubbish and recycling we were able to drop down.
Grindley Brook Staircase Locks.
Staircase locks, where one chamber drops directly into the next, are an efficient use of space but an inefficient use of water. If there are alternating boats arriving at single chambers they can take turns to use the empty or full chamber as appropriate. But staircase locks take a little more managing. In this case, with three chambers, the middle one needs to be half full for a boat coming down, but full for a boat going up. So if an uphill boat follows a downhill one the middle and top chambers need to be filled before the boat can proceed. In the reverse situation the top chamber will be left ready by the uphill boat, but the middle chamber needs to be half emptied and the bottom one fully emptied else the surplus water overflows onto the towpath. It’s not as complicated as it sounds.
The flights on the Leicester Line at Watford and Foxton use side ponds to store the surplus water, which does make matters a little more interesting…
We met a boat coming up through the top of the singles, then had a clear run to the bottom of the locks.
We passed under the disused railway bridge below the flight at 11:45, so decided to toddle on further. It was such a pleasant day.
Three more locks over the next 3 miles saw us pull in on the pleasant moorings past Quoisley Bridge.
Dropping down Willeymoor Lock
That’ll do for the day.
It was a fine and breezy afternoon, good drying weather for the washing I pegged out on the makeshift clothesline, and the solar panels topped off the batteries nicely too.
Today’s forecast was looking a bit dodgy, with rain and wind on the way. We tentatively decided to stay put, which became a firm decision this morning. Although mild there’s a brisk wind and showers of rain keep blowing over too. Much nicer tomorrow, and for the rest of the week. We should be out on the Shroppie main line on Thursday.
Locks 9, miles 6