Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Improving weather, stuck hotel boats

What an awful weekend! It was wet and windy Friday and Saturday, drier yesterday but still pretty windy.
We stayed where we were, and I think a lot of private boats did the same; most on the move were hire boats. We had a surprise on Sunday evening, a long queue of boats, I think seven or eight, came up lock 59 behind us, and disappeared up the next. Carol asked a passing crew what the problem had been, and was told that a hotel boat had got stuck in one of the locks lower down, holding everyone up.

I had a walk down the locks yesterday morning and came across Snipe and Taurus, the hotel motor and butty that we’d seen on the Llangollen and Montgomery. These were the cause of the traffic jam. Both boats are 7 feet wide, and some of the locks on the Cheshire flight have “slumped” in the last 250 years, narrowing the chambers. They had the same problems at Hurleston at the start of the Llangollen canal, taking 3 hours to come down the flight of 4 locks. Speaking to one of the crew, he made the point that the locks were originally constructed for 7 foot wide boats, so there’s an argument for BW rebuilding them to the original specification. I suppose, in an ideal world….

We thought we’d better get off, to keep ahead of them in case they had any more trouble, so pulled the pins out at 09:30. Carol got off first, up the first 2 locks and stopped for diesel above lock 57. We followed on, only seeing her occasionally in the distance all the way to Rode Heath.

Lock 58 with the M6 behind. I know where I'd rather be...
Lock repairs - Lock 54

We’d arranged to stop and shop at Rode Heath. There’s a handy mini-market and PO just over bridge 139. Orchard boat No 51, NB Anguilla, owned by Bill, was just along the mooring but there was no-one home as we passed. Stopped for lunch and were away again shortly after, up the last 6 locks to Church Lawton.

Pleasantly curved walls on Snapes Aqueduct. The ochre coloured water contains dissolved iron oxide, leeching out into the canal in Harecastle Tunnel, 3 miles further on.
We arrived at 14:30, in time to do a bit more work on Corbiere. An hour or so later, the hotel pair passed us, heading towards Red Bull.

Snipe and Taurus, after successfully transiting today’s locks…

It was a dry but breezy day. A lot warmer in the sunny spells than of late. The forecast for the week is quite good, I think.

Anyway, after a long walk with Meg we decided to hang on here at Church Lawton for another day, enjoying the good weather. Sonja’s coming tonight, and it’s a fairly easy place to get to. We got a bit more done on Corbiere.

Across the fields at Church Lawton, Mow Cop on the horizon.
Locks 12, miles 3¾ (yesterday)

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