Friday, 10 February 2017

Lapworth (just one movement again today)

Our old dog, Diesel, when we were on a hire boat going through Lapworth ten years ago

Thursday was back to normal as I didn’t need to cruise to the services for once.  We like it here at Lapworth so much that we will probably stay another week.  I know it’s by a train line but the trains are infrequent and it doesn’t seem to be a freight line.  The trouble with freight lines is that the trains tend to run all night so they are best avoided when looking for mooring spots.

Our main walk today was up the 23 locks of the Lapworth flight.  As well as being a pleasant walk I was looking out for more mile markers.

It’s ten years since Karen and I first went through this flight.  We were on a hire boat then, on a short holiday with our friend Lyn and her boyfriend and our old black Lab, Diesel.  Near the top of the flight is a picturesque lock cottage and it was just as attractive now in the winter as it was then in the summer.

Lock cottage near the top of the Lapworth flight

Since then we have only been through the flight twice – in April and again in August 2015.  Once you reach the top it is then a 13 mile lock-free cruise into the centre of Birmingham. 

I found three more of the original mile markers but no more of the more modern SONACs ones.  I won’t bore you with the pictures here but if you’re interested you’ll find them by clicking on the Mile Markers tab at the top and then selecting Stratford Canal.

An old guy was resting on a bench near the cottage and had his dog tied to the bench by its lead.  We passed the time of day before I carried on.  I walked past a couple more locks and the dog came bounding by dragging its lead.  I couldn’t stop it so went back to check on the man.  He was painfully making his way along the towpath on his two sticks.  He was OK and I just checked that the dog had escaped and wasn’t just running home.  He said it had escaped so I went to rescue it for him.  Buddy found the dog first and kept it occupied whilst I caught up.  I grabbed its lead and walked it back to his grateful owner.

I mention all this because I wish I’d taken a picture of us walking back. The dog was as good as gold on his lead and Buddy just walked next to him all protectively.  I had thought Buddy would be jealous.

Where the towpath crosses sides on this canal the bridges had spindles that were apparently used to stop the horse towing rope snagging.  I haven’t been able to work out how they helped, bearing in mind the bridges have the splits in for the towing ropes too.  I try and work it out every time we’re on this canal but still haven’t succeeded.

Bridge with a spindle

Close up of spindle

Another thing that always puzzles me along this stretch is this house by a swing bridge.

Unwelcome sign (PRIVATE NO MOORING PLEASE) on the house – they have no right to say this as the towpath is not theirs

I don’t understand why they would buy a house here if they didn’t want to be by a canal.  They have completely hidden the canal from view from their rear garden.  It is actually a nice spot to moor as there are good views across the fields.  Out of perverseness I always want to moor here.

For each of the last three days I have only seen one boat moving other than us.  Today’s boat came past in the late afternoon and I recognised the couple on their boat, Water Gypsy.  They were waving like mad as they obviously recognised the butterfly (they probably didn’t realise it was anew boat).  We have passed the time of day a few times at locks and moorings over the last couple of years.  The first  time we met was in the basin at Stratford when we were the only two boats moored there so it must have been during the winter time.

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