Bascote (All locks set against me but we avoided the rain)

After mooring for the day I saw this through the side hatch.  The colours were really vibrant but didn’t come out on the camera phone but at least I got the reflections of a double rainbow

I forgot to mention that I saw a water vole on Tuesday – it ran across the towpath in front of me.  It was at Calcutt where the towpath runs between a ditch and the canal.  It’s normally mink we see so I was quite pleased to see a water vole as they are attacked by the mink which are an introduced species.  It’s funny that water voles are also called water rats because that makes some people recoil but they don’t really look like rats other than having a tail and four feet.

On Thursday I took Karen into work at six o’clock as she was going up to Scotland to see Jo in the evening.  As she was taking the train it meant I had to keep the car and remember to keep moving it whenever I move the boat.  As I planned to go down the Stockton flight on Thursday I drove the car there with Buddy as soon as he woke up – 8.30!  

As Buddy gets car sick I took his breakfast with us so he could have it once we parked the car.  We always try and avoid driving when he has just eaten.

Buddy wondering why he was having breakfast outside rather than on the boat

We walked back to the boat and set off for Stockton.  Before we reached Stockton we passed Nelsons arm which is being restored and is the site of Willow Wren Training.  That and its history was covered in yesterday’s blog entry.

Looking up the arm – the footbridge is new and has been laid on the abutments of the old railway bridge.

The helmsman training centre (the wooden hut is the classroom for theory) and their boats moored outside

I was interested to see how I did for time today because I find operating double locks as a single-hander feels rather slow.  When calculating the length of time a trip may take you add the number of miles to the number of locks and divide by three giving the total number of hours.  This assumes an average speed of 3mph and 20 minutes to operate a lock.  I tend to average less than 3mph but complete locks in fewer than 20 minutes, especially single width, narrow locks.

Going into the top lock at Stockton

Each lock was set against me and there were no boats coming up and none to share the work with going down.  This meant the flight would take the maximum time possible.

The sun came out as we were in the sixth lock

Buddy soon got fed up walking backwards and forwards between the locks to get them ready and close them up again afterwards.

He also stopped walking back to get on the boat as I took it into each lock

After eight locks we stopped for water and had a chat with a guy called Paul who was gathering logs to put on his boat.  There was a pub opposite the water point and as I had started getting quite hot from the locking I really fancied going in for a drink but I knew I had more locks to do so resisted the temptation.

The Blue Lias pub opposite the water point

As we set off again after taking on water we passed Kayes arm which was the subject of Tuesday’s blog entry.

The entrance to Kayes arm

By the time I was doing the last few locks Buddy just sat at the lockside and watched the whole operation.

Getting lazier at each lock

Mind you, he would peer over the edge when I was taking the boat out to make sure I was OK or that Iwasn't going to leave him behind

After going through the tenth lock I decided that we would travel another mile and moor at Bascote – another one of our favourite spots and only nine miles from Karen’s office.  If we carried on further I would have to go down another four locks and as the skies were darkening, and I had avoided getting wet all day, I decided to call it a day.

Just after coming out of the tenth lock we passed yet another pub but as I had to go and get the car once we moored I resisted temptation again.

The Two Boats Inn - last time we went here we arrived in our kayak on Buddy's first trip in it

Moored up for the rest of the day at Bascote

After mooring up we walked back to Stockton to get the car and park it further down the canal.  It just started raining when we got back but the sun was still out so I got a brilliant view of the double rainbow at the top of this entry.  I seemed to time everything right as the rain continued into the evening.  We love sitting in the boat when it’s cosy and warm listening to the rain pattering on the roof.

It took me four hours to cover three miles and go through ten double locks all set against me so I reckon the 3mph/3 locks per hour worked pretty well today.

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