Sunday, 9 August 2015

Heading for Handsacre

We've had a largely straightforward run back to Handsacre in yet more pleasant weather. We estimated three to three and a half hours from Rebel's Field, so left pretty promptly at seven. It was Sheila's turn to steer; as it happens, our day by day rule means that we're doing the opposite shifts to the ones we did on the way down, which makes for a nice bit of variety.

I walked the towpath to Bagnall Lock, which was empty, as indeed were the remaining seven of today's budget. It took Sanity Again a while to arrive, sliding quietly past all the moored boats, which were in a continuous line from the river lock to the winding hole. Here some boater with more desperation than sense had tied his yoghurt pot splitter GRP cruiser on the towpath just at one end of the hole. It's a good job we weren't planning to turn there this trip.

Heigh ho, on we went, onwards and upwards through Common (Moor), Hunts, Keepers and Junction where there was a short pause. Junction has always had a problem with mis-hung lower gates, just as Bagnall does, causing them to swing open when the lock is empty. In both cases, the latest fix is to have lengths of scaff pole fixed to the downstream side of the balance beams in such a way that they can be deployed to prop the gate shut. There's a pair of hooks on each beam to put the pole in when it's not needed.

In the case of the towpath side beam at Junction, this pole had somehow been jammed against the bridge abutment with the gate open, in such a way that it could not easily be moved and was jamming the gate. I fiddled and faddled with it whilst Sheila steered the boat into the lock. In the end, I had to ask her to help, so she stopped the engine and passed the centreline to me to secure round a bollard before climbing out.

Between us we then managed to jiggle the gate and pole until they came free and we could carry on. From there on, things just got better. Middle, Shade House and Woodend went by and we set out on the long pound that runs from there to Colwich. I took the opportunity to get the breakfast washing up done, then ensconced myself in the bow on a folding chair, radio in hand to give warning of approaching boats, not that there were that many at that stage.

We arrived at Handsacre at half ten, so pretty good guessing timewise, allowing for the lost ten miutes or so at Junction. There were a few boats here already, so we went as far as the rings in the piling near the bridge. Others have since filled in all the gaps, proving yet again the wisdom of the start early, stop early policy. Tomorrow, on the other hand, we don't want to be too previous as it's only about ninety minutes from here to the shopping mooring in Rugeley. We plan to get away between eight and half past, a positively leisurely start. After shopping and stuff, we'll go on to Brindley Bank, probably.

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