Monday, 4 August 2008

Day Three- Two Flights

Lapworth Flight-Shrewley Tunnel-Hatton Flight-Warwick(Saltisford Arm)

Stratford-on-Avon Canal, Grand Union Canal

9 miles, 35 locks, 1 tunnel

In which the Duck and her crew acheive gender equality, lose a fender, discover what exactly is grand about the Grand Union and decide that once you've started a flight, you might as well finish it.

Having moored last night 4 locks into the Lapworth flight, we were eager to get going again in the morning. Not, however, as eager as the two hireboats in front of us, who had pushed on by the time we set off at 9am having had bacon sandwiches to fuel ourselves for the long day ahead. James had taken us through the four locks the night before and I was determined to take over today. I am not nearly as confident or competent at boat-handling as he is - I'm happy once we're underway, its the stopping and starting that. I find more challenging - but there is only one way to improve! So I took the helm and managed to steer the Duck pretty well down the flight, even sucessfully negotiating my way past other boats ascending the locks with various degrees of skill!

At lock 14, we stopped (I even managed to moor up!) and checked out the canal shop located there. We had a look at the brass plaques that many boaters buy to mark passing through the significant flights and waterways. Having very little money we decided that we'd buy them all later rather than as we went, since there was such a large array at such a small shop that they must be easily obtainable.
Kingswood Junction
A few more locks and we were on the Grand Union. I had visions of it being like a gigantic busy motorway of the canal world, but in reality it was just a bit wider - there wasn't even a significant increase in traffic! But what is grand about the Grand Union is the views - majestic trees of a scale not seen on the Stratford, and vistas out across stereotypically pastoral England.

We found a wonderful place to stop for lunch, and then pressed on, to the Shrewley Tunnel.

This was longer again than yesterday's, at 433yds, but with every single light we have turned on it was far easier to navigate through it.

We had planned to stop for the night before descending the Hatton flight, but we arrived at the top lock at 3pm, and decided to just go for it. I took over again, and we glad I had because these being double, broad locks the paddles were a lot harder to work. Its a popular place for touristss, however, and it felt like the banks were lined with gongoozlers, waiting to laugh at my mistakes (of which there were of course several, although nothing more than the odd scrape really, as I touched locks while manouvering in. We only ever opened half of each gate, since it was far less work for the lock-wheeler, although it meant that we didn't get to experience sharing a lock. We also lost a fender, and even the metal loop that was welded on the the gunwhale! We managed to fish it out though! The flight seemed to go on forvever, but we both really enjoyed it, despite the hard work. James took over the steering half-way though so we both got quite a work-out and are pretty exhausted now!

The top of the Hatton flight

The flight as it was... ( didn't get a good one showing it myself)

James and his Tilley hat

Hard at work...

We are spending the night on the Saltisford arm in Warwick at the bottom of the flight, which is a very cosy little marina with plenty of liveaboards who were willing to allow us to breast up, but we found a little space - its helpful being short! A trip to find a (closed) Sainsbury's was a bizarre reminder of the proximity of the 'real' world - one in which people don't all stop and chat or wave like they do on the cut... I felt very priveledged to be a narrowboater!


  1. Have spent many hours as some of those dreaded onlookers (useful ones) on the Hatton Flight having visited the nearby Hatton Country World (shopping place with sheep and things!) as it is an afternoon out from Mum's. Are u going to have a mooch round Warwick tomorrow - otherwise we'll be meeting you somewhere like Aynho not Fenny Compton!!! Love, Alison (and Mum)

  2. You'll have so many plaques now for birthdays and Christmas, the Duck will be a foot lower in the water!!


  3. You can only get plaques of places you have been to on your boat, I've got my ticksheet ready, my pennies saved and bought new screws to continue my collection throughout September, yay!!!
    gosh, I'm such a geek...... lol.

  4. Hey, really glad I found you - what a great dream... took K2 through the same water for her first trip, and probably had the same "helpers" on the Hatton!!

    best of luck, welcome to a great world.

  5. This is a brilliant read - the only other blog I'm using my precious bandwidth on at the moment.

  6. i went walking round kingswood junction just t'other day, i remember they had neat things you could wind up using your windlass to hear a story about the canals, and i did not have a windlass, being a walker, and felt most left out.

    anyway looks awesome, your blog is great reading!