Tuesday 26 September 2023

Wending to Wales: Day 30

We thoroughly enjoyed seeing Bob and June last night, and catching up on various news from the past year.  The food at The Boat was good, but the pub was too dark, the music was too loud, and the service was shockingly slow.  We had to go and ask for someone a couple of times.

We had a tentative agreement with the boat from yesterday that we’d team up today for Knowle and Hatton Locks.  They also knew we needed to water up.  So we set off at 7.30 on a very calm, still morning.    We’d only been going a few minutes, though, before it started to rain; then it turned heavy, with thunder and lightning.  I resorted to putting on my waterproof trousers.  We got to the top of Knowle in about an hour and stopped on the water point.  There’s a full range of services there, and we got the washing machine going.  At about 9, two boats arrived, our friends on on Conqueror, preceded by another that had been moored at Catherine de Barnes, Firefly.  We let Firefly go down first, and teamed up behind them.  It rained pretty much the whole time.

Shortly after leaving the bottom lock, there was a dramatic change in the weather.  Suddenly the sun was out and the temperature rising.

It’s a while since we’ve done the stretch between Knowle and Kingswood, and I didn’t remember much of it at all.  Then we passed Kingswood Junction, and were on to more familiar waters, including crossing Rowington Embankment, and going through the very wet Shrewley Tunnel, the one with the foot tunnel alongside.

We had lunch on the move, and always had Conqueror in sight in front of us.  At the top of the locks, Firefly was waiting for the water point to become free, so our two boats headed down.  It was about 12.45.

As we approached the volunteer lockie station about four locks down, a few volunteers popped out and lent a hand.  One of them joined us for a few locks.  We were also getting on very well with Richard and Sharon; Richard was buzzing back and forth on his Brompton setting ahead.  There was a brief pause while we waited for a single boat coming up.

They had a lockie with them and had been leaving a gate open, so Richard cycled down and opened the second gate of the next few locks, but once we were out of the thick and the locks were further apart we were left to our own devices.

About four locks from the bottom we caught up with a single hire boat going down, so we had a bit of a wait at each one.  Even so, we completed the 21 locks in the flight in 2hrs and 45 mins, which isn’t too bad.  In the bottom lock, Richard cracked open a keg of beer bought from the pub last night!  They were heading to the Saltisford Arm, and we continued round the corner to moor on the Cape moorings.  We hadn’t been tied up long when the rain came back with a pretty sharp shower.

14 miles, 26 locks.  (340 miles, 269 locks)

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