One thing Hubby did every day before we set off was to check the running things, like engine oil, water, coolants etc and to make sure that we didn’t leave anything behind.
How we managed to miss Maggie not being aboard we have no idea, but thankfully we left Stratford as a family unit around 8.25.
The first lock (our last on the way up) was no longer manned, so it was up to the men to get the boats in and secure themselves whilst us women got on with the gates and paddles.
Actually, the lock was before us so quickly, I didn’t have time to take a picture of the glorious and spectacular view of the gardens and river approach up to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. These are therefore courtesy of google images.
We were through the second lock together within an hour and by 10.20, were at Luddington, where we stopped to tip out the loo cassettes (we had previously made use of the Lavender Boat, a huge tanker type flatbed vessel with a Elsan point and running water on board which was clean, easy to access and use on site the day before).
It was a lot quicker in the locks going back (after all, it is downhill!) as the water drains from beneath the boat, so you aren’t struggling against the onslaught of water rushing in.
It was also easier with two of us operating the gates and paddles as we could take a side each, and the guys gave us plenty of time to get back on board either from ladders or approach jetties on the other side.
We had heavy rain between Bidford and Barton and got soaked. We were prepared with our waterproofs and Maggie stayed on board, but it was muddy and slippery underfoot and I nearly went swimming climbing down a ladder covered in green slime.
Judging by the sky, it looked like we may have more thunder too.
Out on the river in a metal can in a thunderstorm did not appeal to any of us.
When we got to Barton though, all things came to a halt, literally, as there was a big red sign on the lock gates : NAVIGATION CLOSED.
Unlike road works, there aren’t
m any detours on a river, plus we had the added disadvantage in that we only had a licence for The Avon anyway!
We both moored up and approached the gates, our friend dialling the number thereon to find out what to do next. There had been no warning of this at the festival at all.
There was also a guy in a patrol boat on the other side who explained that they were still working on the bridge in the river with heavy cranes and other machinery, and thus passage would be blocked for between 30 minutes and 4 hours.
Meanwhile, the person on the ‘help line’ knew nothing about the closure and was going to get back to us when they found out what was going on!
Lucky for us, crane operators have to eat and it was lunch time, so we were given the go ahead to proceed. Our friends had decided they were going to stop after this lock anyway as they wanted to look round the town, so we agreed to go on ahead and meet up with them at Offenham for our overnight stop.
We managed the next two locks on our own sharing the gate/paddle operation with boaters going in the opposite direction, and by 2.30, were tied up and washing the boat in hazy sunshine.
Once again, we had early visitors, and company
though they didn’t stay opposite us for long and decided to berth on the other side of the bridge now behind us.
This worked out well as our friends arrived an hour or so later as we were chatting to a gentleman taking photographs who was intrigued with Hubby’s sketching.
Summary Day 7:
Number of locks: 8
Time travel as per engine : 5.8 hrs
Distance: 13.5 miles