Hayes Lift Bridge to The Pig Place
Mick got up to put the kettle on. Outside the morning looked very chilly, my phone suggested –1C. Steam rose from the canal and the greenery around us had had a visit from Jack Frost scattering his icing sugar over everything. Then Mick noticed that the canal had a flow to it. Not unusual in itself, but this was flowing faster than the Llangollen Canal. We both looked out of the window, it didn’t feel right. Yesterday when we’d pulled up I considered doing more to the gunnels as the towpath was at an okay height to reach them. But this morning they were out of view, the pound had dropped by at least 6 inches if not 8. Oleanna was on a list.
The gas was turned off under the kettle and we both got dressed, Oleanna pushed out and with windlass in hand we set off to walk down to the next lock. Maybe someone was coming up in the lock and hadn’t closed the bottom paddles properly so water was flowing through the lock. Maybe someone had opened the paddles at both ends of the lock (the cause of the Middlewich Branch breach in March). Maybe there was a breach and the water was disappearing into a field somewhere. As we walked towards the lock the flow of water was still fast, through bridge holes it rushed past.
A hire boat had passed us before we set off, would they sort the problem before we got there? Were they aware that there might be a problem? We got about half way to the lock when the flow on the canal slowed, then it stopped. No point in carrying on as the plug hadn’t been pulled after all. So we turned and headed back to put the kettle on and let Tilly out for an hour or so.
After breakfast Mick got a bike out and rode back towards Banbury to Morrisons, about a mile for our Saturday newspaper. Once back we wanted to make a move so I gave Tilly a half hearted call from the hatch, she appeared and jumped on board, perfect. Why doesn’t she do that every time? Because I get busy!
We pushed off late morning and headed to the lock. Here at Grant’s Lock the design of the locks changes. Instead of having two bottom gates there is just one. This means that they are heavier and that the locks have to be longer, therefor more water needed to fill them. But it does mean you don’t have to hop across the gap or walk round to open and close both gates. Once down the bottom gate was a touch reluctant to open fully, but Oleanna managed to get through. From here I could see that a boat was coming towards us, but they were getting on for over half a mile away, So I closed the gate behind us.
A mile and a half to Kings Sutton Lock, the church spire in view for much of the journey. As we approached there was a boat just leaving, perfect timing. Another chap stood waiting to help as his boat was waiting below. We chatted away for a bit and I soon came to the conclusion that I knew of this chap, we’d met once before. They moored at Cropredy, had just had a month out on the Thames and were finding it hard to adjust back to being on the canals. This just had to be Neil from NB Herbie. Neil writes their blog, an amusing read, but his wife Kath keeps up to date with other peoples blogs.
Neil suggested that the rushing water this morning may have been C&RT letting water down into the next pound as that pound tends to get quite low. Certainly a possible explanation.
As we came out of the lock Kath spotted that it was us so we paused mid channel for a chat. Luckily what ever we got round the prop just as we slowed down managed to drop off by itself. We had known our paths would cross soon and it was good to say hello again. I didn’t do too well at taking Neil and Kath’s photos though!
By the time we reached the Pig Place we were peckish. The moorings here had just filled up and at the time we didn’t spot that there were rings on the towpath. Just as we passed, one of the boats pulled out. We paused to let them pass and then winded to return and take their mooring.
The Pig Place is a Farm Shop with fringe benefits. You can’t miss it on the bend with three piece suites laid out on the grassy hill. Each area has a fire pit and logs are for sale. There is a bar and cafe selling bacon butties amongst other things. Over the last few days we’ve been trying to work out where to spend Christmas, here they have moorings with electric hook up, so it was worth an ask. We climbed the hill and talked to the lady who weighed out sausages and bacon for us. Their winter moorings were full, taken from November to March, so no space for us for a week. The shop has lots of jars of jam and bottles of beer, then lots of pork to buy and cook. But very little in the way of fresh veg and fruit to tempt us. So we left with our small purchases and headed back to Oleanna pushing over to the towpath for lunch.
Now we’re facing the wrong way! We decided to leave that problem for tomorrow and opened up the back doors for Tilly. She was too busy trying to convince me into letting her out for her to notice she was being given todays rules and that the back doors were already wide open. But eventually the penny dropped and off she went.
If it wasn’t for the long lean woofers across the way in this outside it would get a Mrs Tilly stamp of approval. Just how am I meant to surprise friends when they bark at me! At least they didn’t want to come and join in with my fun. Every time I came out of the friendly cover they announced my presence! Which we quite liked. It did mean that we wouldn’t have wanted to moor here anyway for the safety of Tilly.
2 locks, 4.21 miles, 9 lufted lift bridges, 2wice under the M40, 1 wind, 1 blogging boat, 2 feet, 1 paper, 8 sausages, 6 rashers, 1st autumn cooking on the stove, 1 clean boat inside, 2nd pair of socks finished.