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.
Continuing my Autumn 2018 cruise down the Grand Union canal, I head from near Slapton lock to Marsworth, going through about nine locks and one swing bridge in the process. A lovely – but long (ish) day.
You might not believe it – but I’m going off cruising. Yes, in my own boat. Before the winter maintenance shutdown begins in November, I’ve got two months to chug around the canals so I’ve decided to head south, down the Grand Union towards London.
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.
I spent a rather chilly evening over at Foxton Locks for the inaugural Illuminated Boats Festival to be held at that venue. The boats were excellent – lots of decorations – but the event was a bit flat.
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.
In this instalment, I move off from Braunston and head to the east side of Rugby, firstly to do a bit of laundry and get some diesel, then onwards to Hillmorton Locks. There I take a look around and chat to volunteer lock keeper Maurice Farndon about a restoration project that’s underway.
At last! After waiting all winter, here’s the first Vlog that charts my journey as a Continuous Cruiser on the canals of England and Wales. Leaving Yelvertoft marina on April 1, 2016 I head south to Watford Locks.