Wednesday, 6 June 2007

It’s different.

6 Locks 5½ Miles 4 swing bridges. Now moored at Padworth lock.
355 locks, 501½ miles, 16 Tunnels, 4 swing bridges and 8 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Under an overcast sky on Monday we set off by about 9am. We were looking forward to seeing the turf sided locks which we have read so much about. Garston lock is the only remaining true turf sided lock left and it was a bit of a disappointment. Basically it is a steel framed lock with timber walls up to about ¾ of the height of the lock. The last 3 or so feet only have the steel frame with sloping earth banks which get flooded every time the lock fills. You can still see the original approx; 110 feet length of the locks but these days the locks have been shortened to about 72 feet probably to save water.

The other turf sided locks have now been modified with steel pilings and some of them could be quite daunting to the unsuspecting.
Three of the four swing bridges were electronic with traffic lights, barrier arms and on reasonably busy roads. At Tyle Mill and Aldermarston lock you have to set the lock first before you open the swing bridge otherwise you will cause an all mighty traffic jam and not be very popular with the motorists.
British Waterways have a boater facilities centre at Tyle Mills lock and we stopped to do a self pump out and water up or so we thought! We watered up OK but the pump out machine wouldn’t work as the whole complex had suffered a power failure. We rang BW and informed them of the problem and the area supervisor arrived to try and fix the problem. The only thing working was the swing bridge which apparently is normally the first thing to stop in these situations. After checking everything they decided to call in the local power supply company who sent a technician.

After about 3 hours we left Tyle Mill and the BW lads and the power supply guy were still trying to sort out the problem. By the time we reached Padworth lock we had travelled further than originally planned and there didn’t appear to be any other moorings available we moored up for the night just below the lock.

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