Wednesday, 24 September 2014

24 locks to Merry Hill

Later yesterday before it was dark we had a knock on the side of the boat.  A gentleman on a bicycle purported to be looking for his cousin who was fishing.  He said his father had just died and his car was out of action and he needed his cousin to drive him......he had rushed out without any money!!!
So £5 later he disappeared promising to return the's act of charity?

This morning I awoke to the pitter patter of rain so did not bother to stir too quickly!!

However as the forecast had predicted, it began to die away and when we set off about 8am it was much perkier.
All rain gone and promise of a good day
the sun trying to make itself felt through the trees
Barney and I walked to the junction where the 16 Stourbridge Locks started with the ambition of doing the first few locks, however I fell at the first hurdle.    No small bridges to get across from one side to the other,( I don't do this death defying leap from one gate to the other that Geoff does) and the walkway across the top gate was narrow and impeded by the mechanism of the gate paddle.   Not my cup of tea so over to Geoff.

It was a good job we didn't need to use the lock landing at the second lock as the fisherman was tucked up on his camp bed inside the tent with all his gear parked on the quay!
Most of these 16 locks are in pleasant surroundings apart from a couple where the neighbourhood seems less salubrious.
Fun and games were had at the third lock.  Geoff found a huge obstruction which had to be removed from the lock before we could get in.  This involved him getting on the bow with the pole and Petroc shimmying back and forth.  He not only found the object but also a huge coat and rucksack

When Geoff first found these two articles he thought he had found a body!   Upon opening the rucksack which was very heavy we found it contained a large brick.....we are presently drying them out whilst we decide what to do with them.
We couldn't identify the object but a chat to a workman provided the answer, so Geoff manhandled it across the lock
It was one of the bases of their security fencing!
The side pounds provide mini waterfalls
part way up is a small store and off licence.....amazing they manage to scrape a living situated where they are.
Also seen in this picture is a volunteer and we had high hopes which were soon dashed when he was not very communicative and far more telling he was not carrying a winch handle!!
Part way up is a small boat yard, completely trapped by locks below and locks above, but there were quite a few boats there
At the next to last lock the engine died with a clunk......weed hatch time again.....

This time it was a pram hood ....
The 16 locks had taken almost 3 hours due to the prolonged stay in the 3rd lock.   We were lucky in that they were all set for us.  A sharp right turn at Leys Junction at the top, followed by about a mile and a half of many bends and bridges brought us to Black Delph Junction and the start of the Delph locks.
Without being a flight or staircase they are all very close together.  Not so lucky this time as they were all set against us, although there was no sign of anyone in front.  However we were up all 8 of them in just over an hour.......
Once at the top it was only a short distance to the moorings at Merry Hill.  Having climbed 24 locks today we feel we are on top of the world....
We are certainly sitting high above the Merry Hill Shopping centre.  The moorings are pleasant, lovely grassy surroundings for Barnaby and a line of silver birch trees.  All very congenial.
However 24 locks seems to have exhausted Barney!
We too were ready for a rest but not until a small beer and some bacon sandwiches, they just hit the spot nicely after all that work.    We did not meet a single boat on the whole trip.  On reaching the moorings we found two other boats but by evening we had been joined by half a dozen more.

Total distance:4.29 miles 
Elapsed time:5h26m57s 
Average speed:0.79 mph (5.19 lock/mph) 

1 comment:

Angela said...

Amazing Gill & wonderful photos, congratulations you make it sound so interesting. Think we will stick to the caravan though!!