Well its been wet all day again, not heavy rain but drizzle most of the day.
We had just finished out cup of tea this morning when there was a knock on the side of the boat, an old boating friend Mike Skyner had driven down to find us. I mention his name as several people reading this will also know him. Mike now runs his own business Wood Valley Works that may be of interest to some here. Need less to say when we were ready to go a boat chugged by, so that was the first lock against us. On our way to the first lock we noticed that someone is starting an art trail. At Lawton Bottom Lock there was an elderly gentleman standing by the bottom gate , he kindly swung the gate while Diana opened the other one and even closed it behind me. When I was on the lock side I got chatting to him and he told me that these locks are not on the original line of the canal that Brindley built which use to run to the north of the present line and consisted of a staircase. When the locks were twinned by Telford the route was changed. The old route went off just below bridge 137. If you look at the bridge you can see that one arch is all brick where as the other has a row of stone edging the arch. Brindley on the left and Telford on the right.
We had mixed luck up the rest of the flight with the way the locks were set. Coming up into Kidsgrove at lock 44 there is a very well preserved roller which the tow rope the the boat ran against as the boat was pulled out of the lock by the horse. I thought the detail at the top was particularly interesting to ensure that the rope didn’t hang up on the top of the roller when it was dropped from above.
We stopped in Kidsgrove just below lock 41 to visit Tesco, its only about 5 minutes up the road, so quite handy. As we returned to Harnser a boat was just dropping down in lock 41, but by the time we were onboard a boat came passed us and took it. We set off immediately turning the second lock, by now the other boat was just leaving the lock, we made best speed we could and when we arrived at Harecastle Tunnel there was as we feared no sign of them. This resulted in us having almost an hour and a halves wait while they travelled south and another boat came north, still you cant win them all. Eventually we entered the tunnel which now has new headroom board, I think these are lower than the chains as I can stand up all the way through the tunnel but I have to duck under the boards. Obviously whoever designed the boards thought there was still a towpath through the tunnel and haven’t covered that section.
As we approached Westport lakes we saw out first goslings of the year making their way across the grass. We had hoped to have moored by the lake but it was quite full, I suppose I could have asked a couple of boats to move by a ring but it didn’t seem worth the bother so we carried on mooring just before Festival Park, Etruria at about five thirty.