Saturday, 17 June 2017

3 locks ....and we admit defeat!


What a glorious morning. Awake at 0600 and we decided on an early start. Away by 0715 with Alan walked en route. Idyllic. 

Well it was, until three hours later when I rang the waterways patroller...not lock keeper...to ask about passage down through lock 20-22. He was busy. Looking after 8 locks. Could be there in 90 mi Utes if we needed him. 

Not really a problem. We would just carry on. If only it was that easy,  The double locks and mechanism are so familiar. Thousands of them wound in our 17 years of boating. 43 on one day in 2014...  including the Hatton Flight!!  These defeated us. They mechanism has been painted, they are not greased. I could only shift two. Alistair struggled.

Going down he could and we managed. When we come back up it will be a nightmare as there are no lock ladders. We will have no option but to pull the boat in so Alistair can help wind. 

Yes I know I could be driving the boat in and leaving Alistair to struggle with the paddles but these huge double locks are beyond my capability. 




After we moored I rang the water patroller to ask for his advice. Our concern is how much of a struggle it will be coming back up the Barrow where, we would expect to have to work the locks twice.

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!