Thursday 18 April 2024

Tardebigge Top (almost)

Today's Canal - Worcester and Birmingham

There were several other boats that had arrived after us yesterday that we anticipated would be making the ascent today. The flight seemed to be set in our favour (that is, all the locks empty) so we wanted to be first up! This might also mean we could have help from any volunteer lock keeper on duty!

As a result, Mike made a start single handing the first two locks. (No photo of the start as, for some unknown reason, the camera battery was almost flat) It was a brilliant morning, bright skies and the con trails high above us were not being blown away. A little chilly to start with but the effort of working locks so close together soon helped with that. We entered the bottom lock at 8:02.

As we were about to exit the third lock, Christine emerged and so we continued at a better pace. Six locks up we met a volunteer walking down the towpath from their start point close to the middle of the flight. He was not only a very pleasant and cheerful person but also knew just how to give us the right level of help in a smooth and efficient manner.

Here the fields growing oil seed were at their most striking, enhanced by the bright weather.

At lock 44 we took a break to have a mug of coffee each and a chance to hear more of the volunteer's story. He has been doing this for some time and covers several mornings a week before then taking on grandparent duties with a 12 year old grandson after school! 

By 11:30 high level cloud started to gather, ready to create the grey cover that was forecast for the afternoon.

Just an ordinary top ground paddle but whilst waiting for the lock to fill . . .

. . . we wondered why two of the nuts were square and two hexagonal? Trivia!

The reservoir was in a much healthier state that many times we have passed here. However, it usually is like this at the very start of the season - how well will it last this year? We read a couple of days ago that some water companies are already suggesting that hosepipe bans will be inevitable in the summer . . .

We had expected that our volunteer would turn around at the mid point when we met with a team coming down. In the end, they decided to stay with the boats that they were already helping so we had the same person right to our last lock. We eventually thanked him, bade farewell as he closed up and started to feed some water down the flight as a few pounds were fairly low even though we were the first boat of the day.

We have found in recent years that the moorings in the long pound below the top lock are better than those right at the top, opposite the wharf. There was plenty of space when we arrived there was only one other boat already moored. We exited the penultimate lock (57) at 12:17, four and a quarter hours after entering the first, including a half our coffee break. The help meant that we completed the marathon in much better shape than we had feared - it was actually a very enjoyable day (well, morning anyway!) However, we certainly did not attempt to make any further progress today.

2.1 Miles - 29 Locks

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