We really liked the mooring in Hockley so stayed another day. After a lazy morning we logged into OS Maps to plot a nice circular walk. We’ve been loving this app during lockdown to find nice quiet across-fields walks to explore my moorings surroundings. Found a nice little 4.5mile circular so popped on the boots and off we went.
The first part of the walk took us down the canal we were due to follow tomorrow which is good as there are 2 windlass (tool to operate locks) operated drawbridges i wanted to see before i had to use them! They looks pretty straightforward and Richard enjoyed explaining about the way they work pointing out the counterweights.
Followed some lovely and very well signposted paths through lots of fields and saw abut 4 people in the whole time. I’m still much more comfortable staying the hell away from folk. Found a lovely big field of what i think are swedes growing nicely. Saw some bonkers new housing developments that included 5 bed detached homes for £1.2 million!!! Guess you could say this area is very expensive.
A brief stop in the co-op had me chuckling into a bush as not to offend but the poor gent trying to look all cool in his TVR kept stalling the thing trying to pull out of the car park, think he was getting redder by the second.
The next morning we were ready to face the lock flight. With Kelly & Andy coming up last time i have to say i was a little apprehensive about how this flight would go without some extra help. The North part of the Stratford canal mirrored what we had been used to so far. The paddles and gates were heavy but doable. After a couple i wanted to steer and i enjoy the challenge of lining up for them. This time as we were going down the locks it was easier for me to get out and help with paddles and gates etc then plop back down onto the roof of the boat when the lock was empty to resume steering. We got a good flow going and were whizzing through them.
Met a few boats coming up and everyone was super friendly and met another lovely family who our lock became ‘how the lock operates 101’ lesson with Richard, the kids loved it and they very kindly closed the gates after me. Some of the locks were challenging as on bends or with by-wash which always sent me somewhere i didn’t want to go. Managed to keep control though and mostly got into the locks without any big knocks. I have to say its so pleasing when you have a bank of people watching and you glide the boat into the narrow opening. Internal ‘woohoo’ moments for sure!
We reached Kingswood Junction which is all a bit bonkers but its where there is a branch off to the Grand Union. This time i saw the signpost in time and managed to hang a right to stay on the Stratford. One thing i didn’t know was that the South Stratford canal was built and restored at a different time to the North canal. When it was restored the South Stratford received even narrower locks. I now have less than 1 INCH either side of my boat to be able to get it in the lock (some locks a flat zero space either side), pressure is on for precision steering.
4hrs 45mins later we arrived and found a good mooring to stop. The weather has been stunning so the mini rig came out, along with the chairs, a cold beer. In this moment life felt great, far removed from worrying about no work or what’s happening next etc. I rounded the evening off with getting my yoga mat out and doing a lovely sunset session on the bank to stretch out the aching limbs before dinner. As i sit writing this the light is fading fast but all i can see whizzing past my windows are loads of bats! bloody love bats, shame they fly too fast to truly see them!
Todays video can be found here: https://youtu.be/QTwpWG1horY