Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Back to Base - 415 miles and 385 locks in 25 days.

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

There's not generally a lot to report when we get to this stage of any long outing.  We are firmly on home territory, and barring the completely unexpected, know it is just a case of completing those familiar last miles and last locks back to our home mooring.

Much improved situation at last night's leaky gates.

Last night the top gates at the Stoke Hammond Three had been closing so poorly that passage through the lock was very difficult, and much water was being lost from the "Jackdaw" pound above.  We hadn't got tools to try and clear any blockage behind the gates, but after we had got the last hire boats, and ourselves through it, had tried a bit of brute force to get the gates closing better.  It appears we had been quite successful, as this morning leakage was at more "normal" levels, (compare last night's picture with today's).

Alan eyes up a possible "support vessel" for Sickle at Grove lock.

I enjoyed a bowl of porridge on the ever-lovely Jackdaw pound.  I used to regularly traverse this pound nearly 40 years ago, when I assisted with the local hire fleet.  We caught another boat at Leighton lock, and worked through with them, but both they and we then pulled over for a supermarket stop.

After that we travelled alone. We met a steady flow of boats travelling in the other direction, but never again saw any sign of anybody travelling the same way as us.

This oddity is apparently rather more than 7 feet wide.

Despite the severe problems with water supplies this summer, most pounds were still in quite good health, if anything generally better than when we had passed the other way.  We did find the short pound between the Ivinghoe locks at least a foot short of water, but this probably has more to do with very leaky gates at the lower Ivinghoe lock, than with the drought conditions.

Grove Church, (or simply "Church")  lock.

Below Slapton lock.

All too quickly we were going through the final three Seabrooke locks, the Seabrooke swing bridge, and were back on our moorings.

A good colour match ?

Between the final locks at Seabrooke.

It has been our longest summer trip to date, both in time and in distance, and although we didn't go where we initially planned to, we have visited a variety of completely new places, including the Caldon and Leek branches of the Trent and Mersey, and the newly re-opened Droitwich Barge canal, and Droitwich Junction canals.  We would give a stong recommendation for all of these, although my "jewel in the crown" personally remains as the particularly delightful Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal. We even managed 48 locks in one day, another personal best.  And we found time for two steam railways.

Until next year, then!

Stoke Hammond Three Locks to Cook's Wharf

Miles: 10.2, Locks: 10

Total Miles: 415.0, Total Locks: 385


  1. Well, it seems that, despite some heavy rain at times, you've had a cracking break. And you thought you wouldn't be able to cruise this time?
    Well done,

  2. Actually the rain thing has not been too bad at all, and, as ever, each time the BBC forecast severe wet weather a couple of days ahead, it often seemed to stay a couple of days ahead, as time moved on, and then the predictions got downgraded.

    Knowle locks, (real toughies in my view despite being only five of them), seem to go with heavy showers, though! (Cath hates them, and I must admit I resorted very unusually to a long throw windlass on the worst paddles).

    WE could do with some rain to put water back in the reservoirs, really!


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