Swindon and Wombourne

We still have about 10 miles and 14 locks to go before we get onto the Shropshire Union canal and as it was such a gorgeous looking day we set off straight after breakfast.

We have mixed emotions this week as we have decided to go back to our house in Kent for Easter to get things tidied up.  On the plus side it gives us a chance to catch up with our children and helps us avoid everyone taking an Easter holiday on the canals as it’s bound to be busy.

The first place we went through was Swindon.  We weren’t aware of another Swindon, mind you, this one is just a tiny Staffordshire village.  Someone in one of the canal side houses has a sense of humour – this fisherman is made out of flowerpots.

The first lock was Swindon lock.

The second lock at Swindon is Marsh lock.  The name reminded us of one of our favourite locks in terms of names, Monkey Marsh lock on the Kennet and Avon.  Monkey Marsh lock is one of very few turf sided locks left in the UK.

The next pair of locks were at Botterham and were a staircase.

This is the ornate little iron bridge across the bottom lock of the staircase.
After going through Giggety and Bumblehole (great names!) we went through Bumblehole lock.

This was quickly followed by the three locks at Bratch.   

These locks seem impossible as the pounds between each are only six feet long.  There are large side ponds obscured by embankments that act as the pounds.

The ground paddles at Bratch locks cause whirlpools.  We were a bit late taking a picture so this one had rather diminished.

At the middle Bratch lock is a restored octagonal toll house which is now used by lock keepers in the summer months.  Apparently, when it's busy, they have worked out that less water is used if they let three boats up then three boats down.

We cannot find out what this strange mill/manor house is at Bratch.  All we can find out on the web is that it is 43 Bratch Lane.

The parapets at Awbrdge bridge lock are quite different to anything we have seen before.

The last two locks (Ebstree and Dimmingsdale) both have blowholes where water under pressure blows up through the brickwork and can catch you unawares.  We keep trying to catch each other out and take a picture when one of us gets hit by a jet.  No such luck yet but I did get covered once today before Karen could get a picture.   

The Ebstree lock has this iron bridge with a split to allow ropes (lines) to pass through. It also has scaffolding bracing the lock sides apart which was a little disconcerting.

We moored for the day just above Dimmingsdale lock…

… and one of the first things we saw was this grey heron.


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