For single-handed canal boaters, shimmying up and down lock ladders or trying to get through swing bridges can be a huge nuisance. How much easier it would be if you could steer your boat with remote control! That’s exactly what Gill Gregory can do aboard “Desiderata” so I went to see the system in action.
Whether you’re a solo narrowboater or have plenty of crew aboard, there’s no doubt that at busy and long canal lock flights, a team of helpful volunteer lock-keepers can be a blessing to help you through. I spent a couple of days at Fradley Junction near Lichfield, talking to the volunteers as they prepare for the new boating season, and they explained what they do and why they do it.
Pressing on from the mooring at LMH – see last vlog – I unexpectedly stop early for a week when the Bosley lock flight is closed due to a leak in the canal at the top. Once it’s re-opened, I go up the flight in a pretty good time, all things considered, despite the peculiar “dual top gate” installation on these locks.
When I received a panicked phone call from The Narrowboat Experience, who were stuck half way up the Grand Union canal and just too tired to carry on, of course I had to help. So I jumped into my car, shot off to Whilton Marina and ran down the towpath to find Anna and Kath, and give them the benefit of my extensive canal and locking experience and wisdom. This is the record of the day.
Finally the big day is here: a massive 27 locks await my pleasure on the way from Curdworth into the middle of Birmingham. It was a warm, sunny day and a lot of effort – I ached for several days afterwards – but it was rather satisfying. The route goes down the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, up the Aston and Farmers Bridge lock flights into the centre of the city.