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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Contractors and boaters, not a good combination

Thursday 7th

Living in hopes that the met office would be right for once we set off in the drizzle fully expecting an improvement in the weather within the hour. It was not to be and we did the Delph flight in the pouring rain. 

Top lock on the Delph flight.

Looking down the flight.
Last but one lock and the pound was flooded. The tackle shop was nearby so Ian stayed with FS while I rushed off to get my bait. By the time I got back the pound had dropped sufficiently for Ian to get near to the paddle gear without getting his feet wet.

 Still raining I left Ian on the helm to take us to the Stourbridge flight. After all no point in both of us getting wet! I had just started to make soup for lunch when a hail from Ian to say we had arrived at the top lock. Blast, with 16 in the flight lunch was going to be considerably late. Then a life line. At lock 3... bollards on the off side, obviously for C&RT work boats but vacant at the moment so a good place to stop for lunch.

Leaving our lunch spot. And look....glorious sunshine.
New gravel was being laid along the towpath by the KIER contractors. All very well but it made life difficult for Ian to get to the next lock. Little did we realise a bit further on just how much more difficult it would get!

Walking on the edge only way to get to the lock

Then by lock 12 a towpath closure sign with Harris fencing across the path. Nothing for it but get Ian back on board and take him to the next lock.  In the distance men at work and the only place to drop Ian off was at the bridge 'cos the contractors work boat was hogging all of the lock landing.

 I got myself in a right pickle after Ian got off. The wind pinned me to the side and I tried in vain to reverse off. Couldn't even get to push FS off because of the mud and loose soil. Then a contractor appeared and I bet he wished he hadn't. I told the contractor that he had no idea how difficult he had made life for us boaters. I got a blank look...and then a "Why"?  So I told him in no uncertain terms that to leave their boat on the only means of getting anyone on to the bank, was madness. "But we need it" says he, "Where else are we to keep our tools". "Not on the bleep bleep landing where we need to get crew off" says I, '"and how about you helping me to push the front of the boat off instead of watching me struggle to get away from the side". He begrudgingly obliged and I managed to get to the lock without further mishap. I wish C&RT would at least make provisions for us boaters during towpath work. But as usual it's the boaters that are always the last to be thought of.

Notice the state of the towpath

Reaching lock 16 (last lock) FS very nearly stalled. A lot of grinding and bouncing and I threww her in reverse. Seemed to do the trick although there was a slight wobble on the tiller. Anyway, with Ian saying he would check the weed hatch later,  at Wordsley Junction we went down the Stourbridge Town arm. Not done this bit before and was interested to see what was at the end. Only about a mile long, there are good moorings for Lidl at Coalbourne Brook Bridge . We carried onto the very end and at first wasn't sure where to wind. Boats were moored either side and right by the dry dock was the winding hole.

Wordsley Junction and left onto the Stourbridge Town Arm

The winding hole is on the left at the very end.

Just make out the dry dock on the right.

Having got round okay even though the tiller felt really heavy, we back tracked to moor just beyond the bridge. Lovely quiet mooring and with rain once again making an appearance, we stayed the night.

Private moorings through the bridge. Photo taken with a RAW setting on the camera

Water point mooring. We are moored at the end.

And a few of our journey photos

Stourbridge flight lock 6

One way of making the chimney a talking point

Not quite a staircase as there is a very small pound between lock 9 and 10

Yep, that's a small pound.
And a good preen for this duck,

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