Old Hill Bridge to Otherton Marina
Last night we had a barbecue, well that had been the plan until a very huge rain storm came over, just as the coals were getting going too. So the sweet corn went under the grill and by the time it was starting to change colour the sky followed suit. With the rain passed we put the chairs on the towpath, finished off the sweetcorn on the barbecue and cooked everything else outside. Thank goodness as the grill doesn’t half kick out heat and the boat was already quite warm.
This morning we had several boats come past before we had pushed off. An Anderson Hire boat came by so we tagged along behind and waited for our turn to follow them up Tixall Lock. Boats were coming the other way perfectly timed to use the water we’d just filled the lock with. We last did this journey back in February this year with Mick single handing as I sat below watching Hitchcock films with my broken ankle snuggled up with Tilly. Today it was good to be watching from above again and chatting to people rather than a cat. Excuse me!!
The canal does a large arc around lots of bungalows and static caravans as it nears Stafford where we caught up with the hire boat who had kindly pulled in to let us pass. The weather swung from sun to drizzle and soon it was so drizzly that waterproofs were needed. As we cruised on we passed several boats on their way to Great Haywood, one said that they read our blog and that they were from Scarborough too! From the information Mick could give me and a bit of deduction I think it might have been NB Bessie Surtees. If so Hello! If not, then hello anyway.
As we approached Deptmore Lock we could see that there was a queue, not a big one, 3rd in line, but it still took us forty minutes to get to the head. With everyone helping, boats were going up the lock quite quickly, or so we thought. A chap from a boat in the ever growing queue behind came up to see if there was anything wrong with the lock, ‘No, just the number of people wanting to use it’ was the answer from a lady on the hire boat behind us. As we pulled away she was busy resetting the lock by herself, no one from the other six boats had come to help to speed things up.
Just after Shutt Hill Lock it started to rain properly and as we approached Park Gate Lock the heavens opened. Despite waterproofs we were drenched pretty quickly. A boat was helpfully tied up by it’s centre line and stern on the lock landing, it’s bow drifting out across the cut. When taxi’s pull up in our street in Scarborough blocking it, ‘Won’t be a minute mate!’ came to mind. The chap had popped to Midland Chandlers for a new hose amongst other things. When I eventually could get off Oleanna I squelched my way up to the lock, where a couple were bringing their boat in. They were pleased that their coats were proving to be waterproof, I was less pleased as by now my shoulders were really quite wet under my coat.
Other boats that had been ahead of us had pulled in avoiding the rain. It gradually eased and we very gradually dried out as the sun made another appearance. Boats now were spaced out, so no queues at locks. NB Black Swan came past, another blog reader, Hello! At Penkridge we wanted to fill with water, but there was already a boat filling up so we carried on after disposing of rubbish. At Filance Lock Mick remembered that there were no bollards to tie up to, most annoying when single handing, so I hopped off leaving Mick to hover. The boat from the water point soon arrived and the lady helped with the top gate. As we were pulling away it was obvious that another pair of legs were needed to close the gate behind us, so we backed up and I lent my legs, my it was a heavy beam.
The M6 rumbles away at the side of the canal between Penkridge and Gailey, originally we thought that we might try for Gailey for the night. But the sky was looking dark again and neither of us fancied getting a soaking again so we pulled up and let the second mate enjoy the rain instead.
7 locks, 9.59 miles, 2nd in line, 3rd in line, 7 behind, 1 damp morning, 1 crèche, 1 model railway, 1 lolly pop perfect garden, 3 lollipop stick locks, 2 blog readers, 1 torrential down pour, 2 legs covered in rain bounce back mud, 2 pairs sodden shorts, M6 in the background, 4 wet paws is great!