Sunday, 29 January 2017

Hatton top lock (with some helping hands)

Saturday dawned bright and mild and there was no ice on the water which was a first for a week or so.  We had arranged to meet Mike and Lesley about ten; they were parking at the top of the 21 lock Hatton flight then walking down to meet us on our way up.  As it was we were running late and they were bang on time so we had only just set off when we saw them walking along the towpath.

It’s so much easier when locking up a flight when there are four people and we soon got into a good rhythm.  We weren’t in a rush so often I would be chatting away with Mike at the lockside and we hadn’t noticed the lock was ready for us to leave.

Lesley explaining to Mike how to operate the paddles…

…and Mike taking no notice and treating it all as a joke

Lesley must be telling Karen something naughty as Karen is covering up Buddy’s ears

The weather was so good that we were able to have our jackets off for most of the ascent.  Like, all the other locks on the northern Grand Union between Braunston and Knowle these were installed in the 1930s to replace the original single locks that caused bottlenecks for the freight traffic.  Typical of 1930s style are the concrete footbridges that must have been installed at the same time.

Mike explained that one of the bridges is called Ugly bridge and we were surprised that we have never noticed that considering the number of times we must have looked at the map of this section of canal.

An ugly bridge called Ugly bridge

Just after half way the locks are a lot closer together and make for a good view.

Locks 37-42

We reached the top in something over 2 ½ hours which wasn’t bad as most locks were set against us and we spent a lot of time chatting.  We didn’t meet a single boat which would never happen in the season – one reason why we like cruising at this time of year.  There were plenty of gongoozlers taking pictures and locals walking their dogs though.  Mike and Lesley say they always feel a bit bereft when doing this flight as they do not have a dog but there are so many dog walkers about.

Moored at the top of the flight in a dingy cutting at Hatton

Karen had made a splendid curried parsnip soup so we had some of that with some bread and then retired to the pub.  Unfortunately Mike was driving otherwise we may have spent quite a while there as they had more than a few real ales on offer.  We had a good catch up with their news including the latest plans for the build of their new boat.  Selfishly, for us, it won’t be ready until late summer/autumn so it means we can cruise down to Cropredy after visiting Stratford and take advantage of their mooring in the middle of the village.  At the moment we hope to be able to use it during the festival.

Looking down at part of the flight from the pub – Warwick church tower can be seen in the distance

After Mike and Lesley left we walked back down to Cape locks to pick up the car.  Rain hadn’t been forecast so we weren’t prepared for the hailstorm that started half way down but at least Karen got a picture of a double rainbow.

We drove back to the top of Hatton and stayed in for the rest of the day.  My middle daughter, Lauren, had sent Karen a new slow cooker spicy beef recipe so Karen had prepared that in the morning – it’s always good to have a meal in the slow cooker as it means all the preparation is out of the way by the time you come to eat it and we can just relax.

It was a great day to spend with our friends and here are a few more pictures:

Mike putting his back into it

Lesley telling me a story

Not sure why Lesley was saluting me – maybe the sun was in her eyes

Cloud reflection leaving one of the lower locks

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