Friday 24th June Whittington to Swindon
We left Whittington at 8:30 this morning and had a very good journey with most locks being empty ready for us, our second lock was at Kinver after which we stopped to re-fill our water tank and and empty rubbish.
The weather was overcast and it threatened to rain from time to time, but Joy kept the rain away by putting a coat & hat on! So we covered the 7 locks and 7 miles in a little over 4¼ hours. The only hiccup on the journey was when the lock-keeper at Stewponey (the only lock with a lock-keeper) decided to close the gates as we were just going to enter! There was a boat coming the other way and to be fair there was a bridge blocking his view, and he let us in when I remonstrated with him, after all it made sense to use the lock and save a lock-full of water.
We thought of stopping for lunch at Greensforge, but the rain held off and we pressed on to Swindon (Staffs!) where I made carrot & coriander soup and walked up to the local shop for a few essentials.
Saturday 25th June Swindon to Compton
This morning we were off before 9 am and by 11 we had negotiated the Botterham Staircase (two locks which lead straight into each other) and arrived at The Bratch where unusually there were no lock-keepers on duty. I was told by the crew of an exiting boat that one of the lock gates had jammed and couldn’t be closed, but it had been reported to CRT who were sending someone out.
I went to investigate and with the help of a passer-by we managed to close it, so after checking no boats were waiting to come down we started up the flight. This coincided with the arrival of the CRT guy who accompanied us up, and at the offending gate asked if he could come onto our boat to investigate the problem. After much probing about with a ‘keb’ (long handled rake) he admitted defeat and we went on our way, but not before another boater appeared and accused me of stealing his place in the queue, quite how I don’t know as he arrived after I had started up the locks!
As we arrived at Awbridge Lock a fisherman was preparing to set up of the lock landing (obviously not a good idea ) as I was emptying the lock a lady from a moored boat asked if I was ‘Steve’ but I didn’t get a chance to find out why!
We had to empty most of the next locks as many of the top gates and paddles were leaking. At Dimmingdale Lock it started to rain so we tied up at the nearby visitor moorings for a lunch hour, finishing off the vegetable korma I made yesterday.
Just two more locks saw us arrive at Compton where we found a mooring right outside The Fiume Italian Restaurant. After a while I went shopping at Sainsburys but omitted to take Joy’s carefully prepared list or my phone (Doh!) No matter we both walked down later to get the items I didn’t remember and visited Pep’s Plaice on the way back for some sausage & some unique Black Country orange chips for tea. (read about them here)
After tea the music and chatter from a group of ladies celebrating someone’s birthday on the restaurant patio got a bit intrusive so we decided to do Compton Lock and moor in the contrasting peace there, disturbed only by birdsong.