Sunday 14th August 2011
When we arrived above Hillmorton locks last weekend (see Braunston was busy (and wet!) ) there were long queues to descend as one of each pair of locks had been closed to conserve water stocks. This action has pro’s and con’s as far as I can see as you are less likely to have to turn a lock if both are in use but the queues of boats indicate that less water is being used as progress through the flight is much slower. In any case, we moored Jannock up and went home leaving the locks until our next planned day on board.
This Sunday we were accompanied by Gladys, our neighbour who feeds our cat for us when we have weekends and holidays away, and we arrived allowing plenty of time to get through the obstacle. As I was preparing to set off two boats passed us heading for the locks and when a third appeared further back along the cut I hastily cast off to join the queue. What queue? Both locks of each pair were in use and we just had to wait one boat before we could enter a top lock. It would appear that after the complaints received, BW were operating both locks between 09:00 and 16:00 at weekends and reverting to single lock operation for the rest of the time.
At each of the remaining two locks we entered a ready lock after an ascending boat had departed and so a good run down the flight was made. Brenda did have a steering issue exiting the second lock as were on the towpath side and the boat waiting to ascend insisted on parking himself right outside the lower gate giving her no room at all to get out. She finally persuaded him that moving out of her way would allow him to enter the lock quicker than just sitting there. Out of the bottom lock and both taps were in use and so we didn’t stop for a water fill. On through Clifton and Rugby with no problems until we were passing through Newbold tunnel. A hireboat approaching from the other end decided not to enter the tunnel but go into the offside bank just outside the northern portal. They managed to go aground effectively blocking the canal due to having two boats following them that now had no where to go. We stopped and waited whilst they got themselves unstuck and then informed them that the tunnel was wide enough to pass in.
As we approached Lime Farm marina a boat was coming out through the bridge so we stopped mid channel again and waited for them to finish their manoeuvre. Unfortunately as the bows came round to point south, their stern went aground on a large submerged obstacle that is against the piling at the north side of the marina entrance, and they found that they were unable to move at all. The marina staff came out and assisted getting them afloat again and off they went. I decided I’d take the opportunity to fill Jannock’s tank and so I reversed her into the marina. They take self declared tax splits here and so I put 100 litres of 60/40 in at £117.00p.
We said farewell and managed to get out without encountering any submerged obstacles and moved on until we found a suitable 14 day mooring. I then fetched the car from Hillmorton whilst Brenda and Gladys picked blackberries from the hedgerow. After dinner we cleaned up, locked up and headed home in time for my regular Sunday evening Soddit session.