Thursday, 26 January 2017

Radford top lock (fellow boater chats)

On Tuesday evening we went to play bridge with our friends Joanna and Ileen in Stratford so I had the car for the day and went to pick Karen up from work.  I put on my wellies to get to the car as the towpath is so muddy at present.  Every morning when Karen goes off to work wearing her wellies I am expecting to hear she has slipped over in the dark, but to date, she has been lucky.  Anyway, I was closing up the cratch cover and made the schoolboy error of not putting things down safely first.  I was struggling to pull a zip down whilst clutching shoes and bridge paraphernalia and, yes, one of my shoes fell into the water.  I had to drive to get Karen's office with the heater on full blast to dry it out.

Wednesday was frosty yet again and the cut had refrozen after Mark had been through on the fuel boat on Tuesday; sun was forecast so I was hoping I could move later.  I got a couple of loads of washing done and then Buddy and I set off.  As we were setting off Tony walked by with his dog, he was moored a couple of locks down from us and said he had to move today too.

First lock of the day (just across from where we have been moored) – Welsh Road lock under blue skies

The next lock, Wood lock is one of my favourite wide locks because of its setting with no human signs around, other than the canal of course.

Wood lock covered in ice - at least it was set for us

I was having to be extra careful on my feet today as the lock sides were icy in some places or just wet in others.  Buddy seems to get cautious too and walks slowly when he is ready to get back on the boat as the next two pictures show:

Buddy waiting for me to come out of Wood lock

Trotting down the steps to get on the boat as I leave the lock

We stopped to take on water at Fosse Wharf and I took the opportunity to have my lunch.

The busy Fosse Way crossing the canal just above the water point

Last of the five locks we went down today – Fosse bottom lock

People ask if I mind doing locks on my own (single-handing) and I have to admit that I do really enjoy it.  I have all the time in the world to do things my way and not get flustered sharing a lock with a boat that may have a crew that want to do things their way.

We moored up for the night just above Radford bottom lock.

Getting cloudy once we were moored

After mooring up, Buddy and I went for a walk in the Leamington direction and first met up with Matt.  He and his new wife, Sinead, have just arrived in Leam after a summer touring the North West.  They had taken their boat up to Llangollen to get married in the summer.  On the way back they bought a second boat that they are going to convert to a workshop.  They are both very creative and make and sell some amazing pieces.  Matt was on the newly bought boat by Radford wharf and had a friend helping him get a massive generator on board.  Standard boat generators aren’t really up to driving decent arc welders etc.

After a chat and a catch up with Matt I walked on and bumped into Blair.  He was just bringing his children back from school.  A lot has happened since we last met Blair and Liz in the summer.  They used to home school the children on the boat but had always told them that they could go to school if they wanted to.  Apparently they decided they wanted to start school this winter so Blair and Liz found a school for them and took a permanent mooring; I can’t help thinking how much their life must have changed in just a few months.

Karen and I are really looking forward to this weekend as we will start cruising parts of the system we haven’t been on since summer 2015 – the Grand Union beyond Warwick and then the Stratford canal.


  1. Hello, reading your blog from cold and windy west of Ireland,Hope to travel the Royal canal here during this year. Will be operating the locks on my own. Could you give me three do's and three dont's please. Brendan.

    1. Hi Brendan - lucky you! In no particular order and no doubt some people would say different things:

      Do always keep a line to the side – preferably centre line when in lock (looped round bollard once so it moves easily) – appropriate line at lock mouth/tail when stopping to close gates (the last thing you want to do is wade out after your boat when the wind has caught it)

      Do take your time – it’s when you feel rushed or other people interfere that you are in the greatest danger of going wrong

      If you let someone else operate the paddles make sure they do it your way, e.g. ground paddle first then gate paddle – or half way at first etc.

      Do use lock ladder/ Don’t jump onto the boat

      Don’t run anywhere (always walk) or jump off the boat (always step)

      Don’t allow other people to take over – do it the way you feel safe

      And, of course, the obvious:
      - Don’t open gates with your boat
      - Keep stern away from cill when descending
      - Keep bow away from front gates
      - Follow the local rules of the waterway (or signage at the lock) with respect to whether gates/paddles should be left open/closed

      Cheers, Neil