Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Monday 18th July
A bright morning though the forecast was for more rain. We took on water, which seemed to take an age, and set off for the Grand Union. The wind at Wigrams Turn was interesting! I did wonder if Richard was going to get Mary H round or if I was going to have to fend the bank off but, of course, we made it! It seems strange being on a big wide canal again – we’ve been on narrow canals for a year now. The first locks were a set of three, Calcutt Locks, and we were joined by a hire boat with 2 families on board. It was their first lock and, as you can imagine, were complete novices. However after Calcutt Locks and nine locks of the Stockton flight they were experts and we came down the Stockton flight at a rate of knots with people flying everywhere working the locks! They stopped to get water and we completed the last two of the Stockton flight. After Stockton we soon came to Bascote Locks. The first two are staircase locks – I looked on the internet for a description of these to help readers (who are not boaters) understand them. I’m afraid they all seem quite long winded but here goes!! “After operating a few dozen locks most boaters feel thoroughly at home with the procedure but an encounter with staircase locks can give pause for thought to even the experienced crew. A lock staircase, or riser, is defined as two, or more, adjacent locks where the upper gates of one lock serve as the lower gates of the next. This means that there are no pounds between locks and on leaving one lock the next lock in the staircase is entered immediately. The method of operating staircase locks is somewhat different from that used for single locks and the variety of lock designs do not aid our understanding.” We pulled over for the night just above Welsh Road Lock, so called as the road was originally a drover’s road, along which cattle were driven from Wales to either the fattening fields of East Anglia or Smithfield Market.