Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Suddenly it's busy

What's this? A queue at a lock
Everywhere we've been this year – and we've been all over – it's very rarely been busy. I really can't recall us having to queue for a lock, save at the notoriously crowded Bradford Lock on the K&A.
Until we arrived on the Coventry Canal, which was like joining the M6 from a country lane. Boats were coming and going all the time, from early in the morning – and by early I mean six a.m. – until after dark.
But we still never had to queue at a lock. Even at Fradley where a clutch of volunteer lockies were speeding everyone through the flight in very efficient style.
Until today when, after a long, long lock-free stretch from Fradley, we arrived at the pretty Colwich Lock on the edge of Great Haywood, and found ourselves number four in a line; a line which very rapidly became six boats long.
Apparently a novice crew at their first ever lock had got in a complete muddle and held everyone up. It doesn't take long for a queue to build or for one to dissipate for by the next lock there was only one in front when we arrived.
It's been strange once again cruising a length of canal we know so well. Little seems to have changed: the dreadfully silted up bridge by the Lengthsman's Cottage on the Coventry is still dreadfully silted up (and the house still for sale). The narrow dutch barge is still moored by the mouth of the A38 tunnel, still with no licence or mooring discs and still causing silting problems. More amusingly the padlock, which CART warned a year ago would be fitted on the little swing footbridge at Fradley is still not there (or has maybe be nicked!) and the bridge still swings to and fro quite happily.
Maid of Oak, the all wood narrowboat ten years on
A few new houses have been built here and there and some familiar foot-dragging continuous cruisers from the Coventry have shuffled a bit further away, under the warning gaze of CART no doubt. And Maid of Oak, the unique all-wood narrowboat that I reviewed at its launch ten years ago is still to be seen on its home mooring near Colwich, looking a little frayed in places but a lot smarter than some would have imagined.
The only thing that does seem to have changed is the weather, which, after all the dry months, has been appalling for the last couple of days, with heavy rain and chilling winds. Summer seems a long time ago.


  1. Mum and Dad say that is very familiar territory for us! Dad took me for a good walk when we had to queue at that lock once.

    We know Maid of Oak very well. It's our friends' boat. Hope you waved as you went past - you'd be in big trouble otherwise!

  2. Not nit picking...but as I recall I did the write up and pics for the review you commissioned. Lovely couple who owned the boat which without any doubt is unique and a mix of tradition and modern....and a great spot for its 'home' moorings.