Maximus June 3-17th 2001 Part Two
Crew: (In order of appearance) Christine & Terry Rigden, Christopher
Rigden, Kate Williams, Joanne Hall.
Part one covered our trip to Stretton stop and back with the two of us, and this 2nd week we had assorted crew.
Tuesday 12th Gailey - Bratch Top Lock
We had a leisurely start as there was lots of time to get to Compton lock to pick up my brother Chris. The wind had dropped and it was overcast but pleasant enough. There was quite a bit of traffic at times, and one hire boat totally failed to make one of the tighter bends and shot straight across our bow. Fortunatley we had seen him coming and had taken avoiding action.
We reached Autherly after 3 hours gentle motoring, once again getting through the narrows without meeting anyone. The moorings above Compton lock are very pleasant - you wouldn't know you are in the middle of Wolverhampton. Christopher arrived on schedule and after a cuppa we set off south. We had a relaxed run to Bratch where we found a very nice mooring just before the 'permit holders only' bit.
Wednesday 13th Bratch top - Kinver
A lovely warm sunny morning greeted us and we were on our way just after nine. We had to wait for an oncoming boat but once we got going we were through the Bratch locks in just 15 minutes. Having the extra hand certainly speeds up locking. Lunch was taken at Greensforge where we were lucky to get the one remaining mooring just clear of the water point space.
Our next stop was Ashwood Marina where we talked with J&H trimmings about a tonneau cover before proceeding to Kinver for our next rendezvous. While we dropped down Kinver lock we had a discussion with Wilson's about a tonneau and got another quote.
There was plenty of space at the moorings so we settled a little away from the road. Tim & Kate Williams arrived with Joanne Hall about 5pm and after a bit of a natter we all went up town for a curry, before Tim set off home.
Thursday 14th Kinver - Kidderminster - Kinver
Another lovely day but with dire weather forecast later, so we decided to take things as they came and bail out if it got rough. I made an early run to the bakers. We noticed the hire boat behind us making preparations to leave and as we didnít want to follow them (having watched the 5 of them take 20 minutes to get through Kinver lock yesterday), we made a smart getaway.
This is one of our favourite bits of canal as it winds past sandstone cliffs and through deep wooded ravines.
We had planned to turn in the winding hole before Kidderminster but it was partially blocked by building work. The town certainly doesn't show it's best face to the canal and the scenery got steadily worse as we approached. Our next turning point was marked just above Kidderminster lock (by the church) but we found that it was just a couple of inches too short to turn our 60' boat. Not helped by some prat in a hire boat parking in it, but even after we had moved it out the way there just wasn't enough room to get round.
Someone on an oncoming boat advised us that one could turn a little below the lock. We dropped down the lock and found a spot where two arches were almost opposite and just managed to get round. Then back up the lock to hustle back to Kinver for our next rendezvous. We had lunch during a short stop by Bridge 20 (rather than at the pub, to save time as we were running a bit late) and got back to our original mooring at Kinver in time to meet my parents who were coming to pick Christopher up.
After they left we wandered up to the Vine for a meal, only to find the whole town had a power cut. So it was back to the boat for Co-Op lasagna. The weather forecast for the morrow was dire but we had been hearing that for days and hadn't had any serious inclemency.
Friday 15 Kinver - Dimmigsdale lock
We woke to the sound of rain so decided against an early start. The rain soon eased and we on our way, stopping briefly for water. There were just a few light showers in the morning. Christine took the tiller, Kate & Joanne did the locks and I took photos of the ladies team in action.
We had a sucidal duck join us in one lock, he looked like a juvenile with very limited flying abilities. As we rose in the lock he fluttered onto the roof, then onto the gunnel and finally into the water between the boat and the lock wall. Not the best place to be if he wants to grow up to be a big duck rather than duck pate. I finally manged to persuade him to go behind the boat, but how he managed with the incoming boat I don't know.
By the time we got to Wombourne the clouds were threatening, but after our last experience, there was no way we were stopping at the Waggon & Horses and we pushed on to the Round Oak. The rain had started by the time we got there so we moored quickly and rushed in for very good lunch. The weather was at its worst while we were snug and warm in the pub but we didn't care.
By the time we were ready to return to the boat it had dried up but we didn't move on straight away as we were very mellow from our long lunch. After we got going, we had a good run up the bratch with just a brief wait for an oncoming boat. The last half-hour or so was done in the rain, but the crew was happy so we pushed on to Dimmingsdale lock for our overnight mooring on the off side just above the lock.
Saturday 16th Dimmingsdale - Gailey
It rained in the night and once again the disadvantage of mooring under a tree became apparent. It had stopped by the time we were ready to leave.
We stopped at Compton lock again, this time to drop off Kate to get a train home, and spent some time tidying and cleaning the boat. After a leisurely lunch Joanne took the helm for the rest of the trip back to Gailey. We met an oncoming boat in the narrows north of Autherley but we were able to tuck into a passing place without problems.
Once on the home mooring we completed the end-of-holiday tasks and I washed and polished the exterior. All of which left us in good shape for a prompt departure the following morning.