Saturday, 3 February 2018

Hatton flight (sensible locking for our backs – and a locking landmark)

We drove to Yorkshire for the day on Friday to visit my parents.  We went to Dad’s care home first as we had arranged for a physio to give him an assessment.  Dad came through with flying colours and was convinced he will be walking with his zimmer in a few weeks.  We’re not sure that will happen, but he is very positive so who knows?  Colin, the physio, managed to move him into a chair so now the nursing staff will hoist him out of bed each day into a chair.  The next step is to get him into a wheelchair, so one has been ordered and, once it arrives, he can then be moved around the home and be with other people.  STOP PRESS: He has asked for a blue badge so he can go in wheelchair enabled taxis – goodness knows where he thinks he’ll be going 😉

Saturday saw us up early for a cruise – well, by the time we had had a cooked breakfast (and that was after my standard pain au chocolate and  muesli 😊), it was gone 11 - that was early enough for us. 

It had been raining all night and was forecast to rain all day, but we had to get on the move as the Hatton flight was closing for six weeks on Monday and we wanted to get through it for our last few weeks in the Midlands.  We had already decided to do the flight over two days because of our backs – we have both put our backs out on this flight before.  So, we set off with only 12 locks to do.  Because of all the rain lately, the pounds were full and overflowing nearly all the gates.

Water flowing over the top of the top gates

Fortunately, the paddles were letting the water out of the bottom gates quicker than the water was coming in so we managed to get through all the locks okay.

I had set out with Buddy whilst Karen prepared a slow-cooker meal.  When I reached the top of the flight I moored up and took on water – that was when we had our cooked breakfast.

Taking on water at the top of the flight

The boats behind us in the picture above have been moored there for years; they are on permanent moorings but we have never seen anyone on them and never seen a gap where one has gone on a cruise.

Lock #46 - the top lock  

We really like the Hatton flight but the paddle gear on some of the locks has got really heavy to use recently and Karen ended up using her long handled windlass to get more leverage.  Long handled windlasses obviously give more power but at many locks, especially those with gate paddles, there isn’t the room to turn one and you end up with grazed or bruised knuckles. 

Paddles on this part of the Grand Union which have plenty of room to swing long-handled windlasses

It was wet weather gear all the way and that included Buddy.

Karen (and Buddy) looking dainty after closing up a lock

Seven locks down – Warwick church in the background and water running over the gates still

We have been stuck at locks in the past because the flow of water over the gates was too much and therefore the lock wouldn't empty.  This is more likely to happen on rivers and we both remembered being stuck in the middle of nowhere on the River Kennet section of the Kennet and Avon canal many years ago.  That time, we had stayed moored on the lock landing and by the morning we were surrounded by water.  Luckily, the river level subsided quickly and we managed to get off later the following day.

Short pound between the locks means we could get the lock empty quicker than the flow into it

Water leaking badly through the top gates - one reason the locks are being closed for six weeks for maintenance
After 11 locks we went under a footbridge called Halfway bridge that was made of precast concrete in 1929 when this flight of locks was updated as part of the formation of the Grand Union canal.  All the locks were originally single width, narrow locks, but with increased competition from the railways they were all replaced with double width, broad locks to get more traffic through.  Sadly, it was all too late and we all know what happened.  At least the canal has remained open for leisure use.

It was still pouring when we moored up for the day:

Halfway bridge in the background

Looking at us from a distance you would think the back end has drifted out:

Once we moored up we walked back to Hatton station to pick up the car.  We parked it further down the flight and got back to the boat in time to relax and watch the six nations matches, followed by a delicious meal of course 😊

The fifth lock of the day was the 2,000th lock we have been through since moving aboard in November 2014.  Most liveaboards like us would have been through more than that in those three years or so but, as Karen has been back at work for the last two years, we have been bridge hopping most of that time.  Still, it’s a milestone for us, and we have also covered 2,165 miles in that period.


  1. I'd be careful what you say about the boats above the top lock.
    You tied up in front of 'Tawny Owl', winner of the BCN Challenge not once but twice!
    (And it has been known to fly up the Hatton flight in 2½ hours)

    NB'Red Wharf'

  2. Hi Sam - long time no hear. Interesting about Tawny Owl. We feel we know it well as it is an ABC boat of the same vintage and layout as our Chalkhill Blue - great boat, just no insulation!