Tuesday, 21 August 2018

And now back the other way.

(Now with just Flamingo- posted by Alan)

Downhill through Shardlow Lock, before coming back uphill through it.
We have been determined on this break to try to be relaxed, not to rush, and particularly to avoid very long boating days - we have got a bit burnt out of late, and needed to slow down.  On that basis even coming as far as Shardlow had probably been more we planned to do, but at no point have we felt rushed.  However, now it was definitely time to turn around and retrace the route we have just done.

Turning at Shardlow - Conversion to a pub has rather spoilt this iconic warehouse.
The first debate of the day was "where is the winding hole", (a widened part of the canal where a full length boat can be turned around).  The Nicholson's guide reckons it is just below Shardlow lock, whereas another historic boat owner we got talking to last evening reckons it is at a basin through the next bridge, near the premises that still carries remnants of the famous boat building firm Dobsons.  We elected for the former, and got round OK, though there is large amounts of mud and the boat didn't turn well.

Two things we knew we had coming today were....

1) Having to get back through both the locks that we grounded on the bottom of when coming the other way - the wide Aston lock, and the narrow Dallow or Dallow Lane lock, (it seems to carry both names).

2) Working uphill though locks that are 11 feet, or in one case over 12 feet deep.

One of the deep uphill locks.
At all these locks we made a point of taking the dogs off the boat, so they would not be scared by any excessive banging about or engine running.

First was Aston lock, where I reckoned I needed to go in hard under power.  I reckoned the sludge itself would slow me and I was unlikely to strike the cill or gates hard at the far end.  This proved to be right, and I forged in under far more power than would normally be wise.  This one was out of the way quite easily.

None of the three big uphill locks presented any problems, but they don't half feel huge when you are at the bottom of them.  The rather shallow looking top gates have large paddles in, covered by lifting flaps designed to deflect the water downwards to some extent, but not enough to avoid a full length boat in the lock.  It is therefore necessary to wind only the ground paddles first, (which are actually quite mild and slow filling) then wait really quite a long while before you can start to open the gate paddles.  We managed to open them small amounts long before they could be opened fully, and it certainly sped things up.

Passing the newly restored "Pinner" - the same class of boat as "Flamingo"
We were of two minds whether to stop again at Willington, as we had in the other direction, but the pubs there are lackluster, and the tiny shop did not meet our needs.  We had not realised that there are almost no accessible shops anywhere from Burton on Trent, and including Shardlow, and supplies were getting very thin.  We therefore pressed on to Stretton, in Burton on Trent and Cath easily found the rather small, but very usable Co-Op.  On the other hand we had pulled up on the moorings at a Harvester "restaurant", and a quick look at both the menu, and the place itself, gave us a very good reason to move on again!

Steerers view entering 12' 4" deep Stenson lock.
Dallow, (or Dallow Lane) lock proved to be far harder to get back through than Aston.  Again I reasoned I needed to power in hard, but the first attempt I chickened out, fearing that if I wasn't brought to a standstill by the gravel and other matter in the lock I might end up striking the top gate far too firmly.  This was a mistake, as I was brought to a halt long before we were far enough in to shut the bottom gates.  For a while I could move neither forward nor backwards.  When we tried to flush in water from the ground paddles to rais the front of the boat, the fact there was really nowhere for that water to get under the boat actually flushed us out backwards, even though I was under full ahead power, but at least we were unstuck.  So I threw caution to the wind and motored back in with a large run up.  This actually felt quite scary, but in fact I judged it right, and we were brought again to a halt, but now able to shut the bottom gates, and work through the lock.  This lock really is a total disgrace, and has apparently been in this state for some years.

On the way down I had spotted Shobnal Fields, a large area of parkland, playing fields, and with a mass of indoor and outdoor sporting facilities, and it had looked a good potential overnight stop.  So it proved to be, we got easily to the side, and there are well designed rings, so mooring up was a doddle.  The dogs absolutely loved it, and Max in particular ran around far more than I have seen him do in ages.  Trying to keep them away from dozens of other dogs, or out of the several football matches in progress was a bit of a challenge to me, but it was really good to see them both so active.

Shardlow to Shobnall (Trent & Mersey Canal)
Miles 15.7, Locks:7
Total Miles both boats: 159.0,  Total Locks both boats: 65

1 comment:

  1. Alan, There is a large Co=op in Willington - it is under the railway bridge. It moved from its previous location a couple of years ago so the guidebooks have not caught up with it. All the best Richard


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