Monday, 30 March 2015

Watch out – hire boaters about!

School Easter holidays have begun, the first hire boats have started to appear on the cut and the Grumpy Old Boaters are already started to grump. Witness the chalked message to Starline hire boaters on the bridge across Debdale Lock.
We're usually happy to see them. There's nothing like a hire boating family with some eager windlass clutching kids seemingly  always on the brink of falling in, a panic stricken mum up front and a blase dad at the helm steering a haphazard line across the canal to get you chuckling. Unless they're aiming at our boat of course. The only ones who we don't like are the gangs of beery blokes who've left their various missuses behind and gone off for a noisy, high speed, waterway pub crawl.
The canal is carved around the sandstone cliffs
And sometimes through them as here at Cookley Tunnel
I did knock our speed back a bit today though in anticipation of meeting a hire boat or two. The canal from Kinver through to Wolverton carves a narrow way through some hefty sandstone cliffs that look somewhat unforgiving should a newbie hire boater arrive round one of the tight bends.
It's a spectacular few miles though which must have caused a few headaches for the canal builders. Cookley Tunnel goes through the rockface (and has houses built above it), Debdale Lock is built into the rock and has a hewn out shelter for horses. The rocks everywhere are impressive; layer upon layer, worn away by time, eaten into in a myriad places to becomenesting spots for birds and small creatures. Makes me wish I'd done Geography GCE so I knew how it all came about. What good was Latin, eh?
Graham 'The Narrowboat Builder's Handbook' Booth and his boat 'Rome' live here
This is Whittington Horse Bridge and you can see why it got that name
Stunning view from high on the ridge above Kinver
Before we left Kinver we took a final walk along a footpath on the offside which took us high onto a wooded ridge above the canal and past a cluster of houses which have a beautiful setting but no road access at all – it's a quarter mile wheelbarrow push through the woods to get the shopping home.

Tonight we are moored just above Wolverley Lock listening to the wind get noisier and hoping that the hefty trees above us don't choose tonight to come adrift. 

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