Friday, 21 March 2008

Stratford canal BEWARE.

16 locks and 3½ miles, Now moored above bridge 59, Stratford on Avon Canal

It was just as well we left Bancroft basin early because we had no idea what lay ahead. Along the way we were looking for somewhere for Tracey to be able to park her car close to the canal. We found somewhere above bridge 62A but a BW worker told us that the road was for BW access only so that put the kibosh on that one. We carried on and made good time until we got to lock 43 in the Wilmcote flight where we found all 3 pounds above were very low. The contractors had lowered the pounds so that no water would pass over the new by-wash's to allow newly laid concrete to harden. Well that was OK, it just meant we had to wait a little longer to get sufficient water to be able to pass over the first lock cill. Eventually we got out of lock 43 and into lock 42 and this is where problem no 2 arose.

Some masonry had fallen out of the lock wall behind the lock gate which was another reason for lowering the pound, so that BW guys could clear the masonry from obstructing the gate. Unfortunately they hadn't checked that the gate would shut because when we went to shut it, it jammed about 6 inches out from being fully closed. I had a poke around with the pole hook and got it to close within an inch but it still wouldn't seal properly. The contractor's called out BW who couldn't have been too far away as one of their guys arrived fairly quickly. He couldn't improve on the situation even though he did move some bricks out of the way but he said to open both top paddles and that should get us through. By this time the top pound only had a few inches of water left in it so we had to open the very top paddles to get the boat out of lock 42, across the pound into lock 41. By the time we cleared lock 41, over 3 hours had elapsed since entering lock 43 and just to top things off it had started to rain. The BW guy said that they would come back tomorrow to try and clear both the gates on 42 and 43 but of course the other problem is that the pounds are still very low so don't be surprised if the canal is closed again.

The foreman of the contracting company said that they will probably have to close the canal again next week anyway to try and complete some of the outstanding work. We noticed down by lock 50 that there is a new lock gate laying there that is still waiting to be fitted which will require another closure.

Another problem which we noticed is that the funny little bridges with the gap through the decking for the old horse ropes to pass through have subsided and the gap in the decking is no longer there. Both sides of the decking are now touching and at water level it is very hard not to scrape the hull on the brickwork. I noticed a couple of them were barely passable. How long before this becomes a major problem?

Sorry Jeremy you didnt leave an email address, unfortunately we won't be travelling up your neck of the woods this time around, maybe next time we are here in a few months.

987 locks, 1326½ miles, 39 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

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