Day 13 – Big Locks

I wrote this yesterday but then found I couldn’t publish it because I had no internet connection. So here you are 24 hours late.

Unlike the Northampton Arm the GU Mainline has large locks. Those encountered today (17 or 18 depending how you count a 2 lock staircase) have the 1930s big ground paddles. They are amazingly efficient at emptying or filling a lock, but hard to turn. I did the first few at Stockton single handed, then a chap from a boat at the top who was out walking his dog borrowed a spare windlass off me and set a few locks in advance for me. Very kind.

Round about the 5th lock he saw a boat coming up and set the lock for them and asked them to leave the next two open for me coming down. Eventually I got to the bottom.

There’s a brief pause after that until Bascote locks, the staircase pair and a single. There were two Australian couples on a hire boat coming up and two others ahead of me waiting to go down. The Aussies were having a logic problem, filling locks they should be emptying and generally getting it wrong. Eventually it was my turn and as I entered a narrowboat arrived to share the lock.

We shared the next couple but I needed a rest by then and he pressed on. I need to empty the loo soon and spotted a ‘Sanitary Station’ on the map below Fosse top lock so I decided to make for there, and teamed up with another hire boat with 3 couples on, 2 probably in their 50s and someone’s parents who just stayed in the cockpit. The younger ones were fit and organised though so we made good progress.

The Sanitary Station was closed. We did one more lock together then I had to call it a day above Fosse bottom lock. I’ll get to Warwick tomorrow and there are three marinas there. I might even find one with a launderette.
I’m still two days behind, in fact two days ago I should have been through two more locks and stopped in Royal Leamington Spa, so I guess that’s about two days plus an hour. If I keep to schedule from here on I should arrive on June 27. So I can drop another few days and still get to see Jools Holland at Llan on July 1st.

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