To say he was negative is a contender for understatement of the year. He said the boat should be crewed to the requirement needed to work the locks. Which we ARE, if only the locks were workable! He said in his 30 years of working these waterways no-one has EVER complained or commented on them. He offered no prospect of assistance for the return trip. We had no option but to say we would turn round and go back.
This meant going down a staircase lock just ahead...turning at the bottom and coming back up, it was locked. He had no choice but to offer to come out. We arranged to meet an hour later. We started to work the lock. The bottom chamber had to be emptied. First of a dozen young men using it as a swimming pool, then of water. Of course, the boys immediately offered to wind the lock for me. My...what a struggle. Between them they managed to open only two of the four paddles. But not the ground paddle ...which, on artival, the waterways patroller told me wouldn't work because they always just wound the other side so those paddles never get used so are unworkable! When you are going up these paddles should be opened first to control the flow into the lock! Err ......
Back in the lock. Alistair asked his advice on which ropes to use to secure the boat. Mainly because other water patrollers have offered advice and as they know the workings of each lock it makes sense to listen. This time we got a flat not for me to say. That's for you to decide.
So...from what we have seen...the Barrow Line is pretty. But almost impossible to operate. Tourism on these waterways will not benefit from this.
It is such a shame that we felt we had no option but to turn round. But, we are not treating this trip as an endurance test. I have no doubt Pru and Tim would have been fine!