Monday, 20 August 2018

Last day before we turn around.

(Now with just Flamingo- posted by Alan)

Stenson Lock - forst of the wide ones  and at 12' 4" also the deepest.
A very peaceful night was had in Willington, but I noticed that although I had hammered some very decent stakes in with great force, and doubled them up at one end, they were still nearly ripped out by the morning.   I'm not one of your usual "slow down!" merchants, but perhaps people were passing really a bit faster than is reasonable?

About to leave
Moving on down the Trent and Mersey, which we have not done this part of for ten years, produces quite a dramatic change in the locks.  Up until now, they have all been narrow, and with quite average falls, and are very tame to operate.  However once you reach Stenson they switch to wide locks, and the first three encountered are all very deep.  Stenson itself is quoted as a fall of 12' 4", but the next two are not a lot shallower at just an inch shy of 11 feet.  These dwarf any lock on out native Grand Union, with the sole exception of Denham Deep Lock.  These locks are fine to work downhill, but seem huge when you are in the bottom of one.  Uphill may be more of a challenge, and despite large hinged flaps to direct the flow of water from gate paddles, I certainly wouldn't want to open these too soon.

Worth not getting caught on the cill here!
However it was none of these deep locks that caused us the problems - these came at the much shallower Aston Lock.  Following our issues at Dallow lock we had been warned to expect we would also probably ground on debris in Aston Lock, and that is exactly what happened - the counter rose out of the water and engaging fill power would not move us.  However forewarned was forearmed in this case, and I had made sure if it happened that we were away from the bottom gate, (tricky as the boat is nearly as long as the lock, and you must avoid the cill!).  So we could open the gate, but not immediately get out.  Engaging full ahead power I got Cath to fully open a ground paddle to try to flush us out, (we would have used two, but one was chained up out of use).  We moved forward quite a few feet on the flush, but stuck again.  However we were now far enough from the gate paddles that these could now also be raised.  Eventually we shook and juddered our way out.  The intensely irritating thing is apparently this lock has been in this state for decades - it seems CRT, and BW before them pay scant regard for the historic craft built for the canals still being able to use them.

Immaculate "Large Woolwich" "Bath"
We are just hoping we will be able to get into both Aston and Dallow locks in the uphill direction sufficient to get the gates closed to actually be able to fill them, but it really shouldn't have to be like this.

The rest of the trip to Shardlow went fine.  However obvious opportunities to "wind" the boat, (turn it around), are at the end of Shardlow we arrived at, so we wanted to moor up without needing to do a long reverse before we turn to head back the way we have come.  So we decided to stop above Shardlow Lock if we could.  We found a space, the last available for a full length boat, but getting stakes to hold in the soft ground is very hard - hopefully we will still be tied up by the morning, but if they do get pulled out we can't really drift any further than the lock!

Immaculate "Large Northwich" "Pinner"
A walking tour of  Shardlow let us see the many old warehouses, as well as some interesting historic boats based here.  It also allowed us to check out the pubs, none of which really inspired, and some of which were not serving food at all.  We ended up in the "Clock Warehouse", or more accurately in the canal-side garden outside it.  I had a spectacular fail with a tray of drinks, (although a bottle of unopened wine survived bouncing down a staircase), and my meal, at least, was frankly lackluster.  But a good meal is of course as much about who you spend it with as the meal, and I was in good company with Cath, and the two dogs who managed quite well to do tricks for the assembled audience.

Immaculate "Josher" "Trout"
Tomorrow we turn around, and do it all again in the reverse direction.

Willington to Shardlow  (Trent & Mersey Canal)
Miles 11.1, Locks: 4
Total Miles both boats: 143.2,  Total Locks both boats: 58

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