Thursday, 28 June 2018

Hotter still and hotter

Haywood and Colwich locks are notorious for getting very busy indeed in the summer and we were two hours away from Haywood where we were at Weston. So another early start was indicated, Sheila setting off at 6.20. I just had time to grab breakfast before we reached Weston Lock, which was against us.

I worked the boat down and then the curse of Weston struck. Coming up, Sheila had run aground on the towpath side and the offside is always shallow because of the silt carried down in the by-wash, so she took care to keep in the middle as she emerged.

And promptly ran aground again. It took a fair bit of back and forth to persuade Sanity Again to unstick, but after around five minutes we got away. Clearly more dredging is needed there – when we reached Hoo Mill the by-wash was nicely on weir, so the pound was not especially low. Apart from this contretemps, we had a good run. It was cloudy and cool again, to the extent that Sheila took to wearing her fleece for most of the morning.

Haywood lock was no trouble and Colwich was just getting busy as we arrived, with a boat emerging, one waiting to go down and another arriving below as we were working down. By the time we were clear, there were two more arrived, one above and one below. This was not long after half eight, so I dread to think what it was like later today.

We got to Brindley Bank after a straight four hours cruising and found a good slot just ready for us. This is one of the spots where I'm always sure it's a 48 hour mooring, but there are no signs or even any sign of totems, must be my imagination. Maybe it's because it obviously should be 48 hour, so popular is it with its nice new rings and decent dredged depth.

Despite the heat, we tried going up the Bloody Steps. There's no sign of an old pub at the top, just a superb example of a Victorian pumping station. After some roaming around, we took advice from a passing native and found the Co-op, which is quite a large specimen of its type.

To get to it from the aqueduct, walk up the Bloody Steps and alongside the pumping station. Keep going straight on to the main road, which cross by the traffic island just to your left. Walk up the left side of the play park and keep going straight on through the housing estate until you come to another through road.

Note the name of the side road you are on – Jeffrey Walk – and turn right. The Co-op is may be 100 yards on your side of the road and is air-conditioned, oh bliss. We bought a loaf of bread and found our way back (this is where having remembered the name of the side road helps...)

The humidity has gone up a bit so we've been lurking in the boat all afternoon, sweating. We've even dropped the side of the cratch cover to keep the sun off the bow doors.

Tomorrow, on through Rugeley to Handsacre or may be a little further since we don't need to stop to shop, Kings Bromley, perhaps.

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