Thursday 15th June 2017
Wilmcote to Bancroft Basin, Stratford
3.5 miles, 16 locks
I guess we never sprint on a narrow boat, but this was a fairly speedy trip considering the number of locks ahead of us. We are not ones to start early unless we feel there is a good reason and today was one of those days that did require a quick getaway, particularly as we have spent most of this trip following other boats down locks.
The alarm went off at 07:00 and we pulled pins at 07:30 just a few moments ahead of two cruisers who are travelling together. They are both single handers and can fit in the lock together and although they were very efficient we were still glad to be ahead of them
The first lock was about a mile from our start, so time for a cuppa on the run. When we got there, lo and behold it was full and ready for us! Sadly that was the rare exception, but we got a good rhythm going, so made light work of the locks, despite some very heavy gates and hard paddles.
As you arrive at the Voluntary Lock Keepers comfort station you get your first views of Stratford.
When we were talking to the VLK’s at Lapworth and mentioned we are also VLKs when we are home, they told us to ask at Wilmcote to have a look at the comfort station – sadly we were too early, so no one was about. Apparently, B&Q made a good fist of providing them with a kitchen. There is no electricity or water – the latter they get from the outside tap of a nearby house.
And joy of joys – a boat coming up with their own Monty look alike supervisor
I rather fear that we might be guilty of 'moorhenicide'. I will spare you the image, but in this lock there was the body of a mother moorhen. This little one was swimming frantically around and calling for Mum. It kept trying to hide in the side of the gate. Once the lock was empty I opened the gate very carefully and it did swim out, only to head back in again. Chris inched forward and we tried to shoo it out, but it disappeared never to be seen again. Possibly without Mum it would not have stood a chance, so we may saved it from further distress. That did not make us feel any better though.
And then to the dreaded cantilevered gate – I had managed all the gates bar one of the top gates on my own, but this I feared would defeat me and mean a journey up the lock ladder for Chris to come and help be out. Someone, however, was smiling down on us as a boat was coming up and before I had had to try and open it a man appeared and saved the day.
And so after the 16 locks you emerge from the bottom lock to go round the bend
To be greeted with your first sight of the RSC theatre.
Under the road bridge and into Bancroft Basin where we had a choice of moorings. The early start was worth doing. It had been dry and mostly warm all the way down, but thankfully not too hot.
Mind it was only when we got to the basin and had to reverse onto the pontoon that a strong sharp wind came out of nowhere making a tricky manoeuvre even trickier!
Postscript – it occurred to me, when looking at Chris’ birthday cards, to wonder if our children are trying to tell their father something!!