Thursday, 18 August 2016

Two Glorious Days

Wednesday 17th August 2016
Greensforge Lock to just before Bridge 55 Staffs and Worcs Canal
6.5 miles, 3 locks

It was another glorious day and we were off fairly early for us.  Our first job was to fill up with water as we had been busy with the washing machine and showers.  There was a boat who had moored overnight on the water point, but we were able to move back enough to allow the hose to stretch to our bow.  The water pressure here is very strong, so much so that at one point the hose came out and ended up spraying the side of the boat we cleaned yesterday!

We had heard that there had been a delay yesterday at Botterham Staircase locks due to a broken gate, but thankfully that was yesterday and all was okay today

The evidence was clear that this was the gate in question - with an emergency repair and no paddle. The lock was empty, so ready for us, so we had no need of a paddle.

I mentioned the other day an old boat called Uranus that we had met a few times, well today we passed her at her home mooring at Giggety Bridge Wharf (pronounced Jiggety).  How wonderful to have a mooring right by your home.

Next came Bratch locks - a series of three that look as though they are a staircase, which we gather they once were.  Now, however, they are separate, but there are no passing places, so it is one at a time.

There are lock keepers here from March to October to ensure smooth running as you do need to ensure no one has started down before you head up!  When going up you have to ensure that you raise the blue paddles before you use the red ones.

 The force of water is such that it creates this whirlpool - not somewhere to fall in!
 This attractive building is the C&RT office at Bratch.  We have only been along this bit of canal once before and that was 10 years ago, but neither of us remember this flight.  It is certainly interesting and very well kept.

We moored above the top lock at Bratch which was our planned stop for the day, but in the end we just had our lunch and then decided to go on whilst the weather was so good as the forecast for Friday onwards is for rain and high winds.

Next came Awbridge Lock with this rather wonderful bridge

You have to watch out for these holes by some of the paddles on this canal as they are liable to spurt water all over the operator.  Monty was standing right over this one watching and he moved away just before a jet of water erupted from it!  How he knew I will never know.

But waste not, want not, he came back to lick the water up!  On the boat and at home if there is so much as a hair in his water bowl he can refuse to drink, however out and about he will drink from anywhere!

We decided to stop just before Wightwick (pronounced Witick) as it was peaceful and also had a slightly wider piece of towpath as we had a job that needed doing.

Our anchor is stowed in our bow locker and as we have finished on the river for quite a while it needed to be put away.

The first thing to do was to take the cratch down and put it on our bed having covered it in the £2 pound tarpaulin we bought at Oundle a couple of years ago.

Then everything had to come out - it is a very big locker!  We did not need to remove everything to put the anchor back, but we had a project in mind.  We both find 25 kilogram bags of coal too heavy to lift in and out of the locker, so we have been saving old coal sacks with the intention of splitting them into two.

Job done, so all we had to do was put them back

Apart from being lighter they fit better.

Monty was rewarded with an al fresco dinner (it is hard work supervising such a big job!)

Our reward was a towpath G & T!

Thursday 18th August 2016
Bridge 55 to Before bridge 71 at Cross Keys
6.5 miles, 3 locks

This morning we moved along to Wightwick - about 20 minutes along the cut as we wanted to visit Wightwick Manor - a NT property that used to belong to the Mander family.  For a NT property it is very young as it was built in Victorian times.  It is, however, well worth a visit.

We did not have any children with us to ensure we behaved, but we managed to constrain ourselves and not touch anything!

The rules of the house are such that any seat with a cat cushion you are allowed to sit on.  Apparently Lady Mander loved cats - at one time she had eight and they ruled the house and were allowed on most of the furniture.

All but one room in the house is decorated with William Morris wall coverings, carpets and upholstery.

Wouldn't you just love to dine at this table?

There were some magnificent ceilings

This is the night nursery

With images by Cecil Aldin

And this the rather wonderful day nursery

This is a Praxinoscope that still works

The tea set was being enjoyed as much today as I am sure it was by the Mander children

Flash cards to aid your education

And then we spotted this - as one we both exclaimed 'I had one like that'!!

Then onto the kitchens.  This was the main range, but there were a total of three that would have all been on the go whatever the season if the family were in residence and entertaining.

The servants hall - just think Downton Abbey!

After an enjoyable lunch in the tea room we decided to return to the boat and move on to make the most of the good weather as we live close enough to come back again one day to explore the gardens.

As we moved round to first lock at Wightwick we saw this sign

And sure enough they were busy with one boat ahead of us waiting on the lock landing.

It is amazing how much they dig out of the canal and just look at the size of that tyre!

The boat ahead of us made it through, but unfortunately for them their engine conked out whilst they were in the lock.  They pulled themselves out of the lock, moored up and called River and Canal Rescue.

By the time it was our turn there was a cruiser behind us and another narrow boat coming up behind them

It was eventually our turn and one of the men working with the dredgers was kind enough to not only give us a hand, but to share his water with Monty!

Onwards we went past the Wolverhampton flight at Aldersley Junction

Past Autherley Junction and through a very narrow cutting.  We had stopped at Compton for me to pop into the small Sainsburys for the paper and a few bits, so the narrow boat that had been behind us (Escargot who we have been stalking for days)  at the Wightwick locks was now in front of us.  There is one passing place along this stretch and as we could only see the one boat ahead we were immediately behind Escargot.

Unfortunately there were two boats, so there was nothing else for it, but to reverse all the way back to the start!

This just tickled my fancy - I just hope it was not on anyone's expense account!!

 We are moored just prior to Cross Green in a spot that we thought would be quiet as we are well away from the main road and the pub, however someone across the cut behind a big hedge decided to get their chainsaw out and cut down two trees.  We are talking from around 8 to 9pm!  It was virtually dark when they had finished and the noise was not appreciated!!


Boatwif said...

Wonderfully evocative photos, Jennie. We remember it all well - except for Wightwick Manor which we've not visited. Now must put it on a To Be VIsited list! Happy onward cruising...

Jennie said...

Yes Sue, Wightwick is a must see! If you don't make it by boat it is not far from our house and we need to go back again! See you in a couple of weeks.