After a wet but lovely day off in this wildlife filled area we headed out for Womborne. The journey began with more winding canals and red rock face.
The fun and games started a few locks in when i’d set the lock for Richard and Māhina was coming in nicely, then nothing. Stopped halfway in. Tried reversing and coming back in but every time we couldn’t get the whole boat in the lock. I opened the ground paddles to try and run some water down to refloat us……..nothing, open the gate paddles……..nothing. Now opening paddles doesn’t feel nice as essentially you’re draining water from the pound above but it wasnt budging the boat. I closed the paddles again and just as I was approaching the boat to figure out next steps, a lovely gent appeared and offered to help take the rope from the boat and see if we could pull her in.
After a lot of heave ho-ing, there was movement and we got her in. As the lock filled, the newcomer spotted a massive tree stump come up behind us. It must have got wedged between us and the lock floor. He pulled it out and threw it in the nearby field to make sure it didn’t end up in the canal again. He was single handing so we pulled over once we were through to make sure he didn’t have any issue then pushed on.
Unfortunately the next hour or so was not so pleasant but mainly due to a particularly horrible man. It started with him thinking it was just fine to moor on the lock landing and have lunch whilst other boats struggle to queue to get through the lock. Lock landings are designated only for use while prepping the lock with handy bollards or rings to use. You are not allowed to moor on them. The gent came out to say he’d move back but did he hell, he stayed in until we had prepped the lock then looked like he was about to drive into it. We stuck to our guns and went through and carried on. The 2 boats I helped put through while we were waiting were all grumbling about how inconsiderate he was.
The next lock I had helped a chap down and we noticed a big branch blocking the gates when I came to shut them behind the boat. It created a big gap which meant the gates wouldn’t have sealed. We went back to our learnt trick from the last trip and started to swing the gates to and from. All of a sudden we could hear shouting from behind us as the moody guy had caught up and was screaming at us to run water through the lock to hurry up and close the gates.
Rule #1: Don’t let anyone ever hurry you doing lock.
Rule #2: Yes, running water can sometimes help BUT for conservation purposes it is never a first option as usually you can swish stuff out of the way.
He continued to shout and then beep his horn at us from the middle of the canal to which his wife, who had now joined us, also told him that we had heard what he had said. How he thought it was ok to holler and beep when he actually didn’t even know what the issue was in the first place is beyond me. So we took our time and filled the lock extra slowly and gently and pootled on.
There is a small staircase lock on this stretch and I was a bit nervous about them still. After hearing of a boat sinking in one we we’re approaching in a couple of days, I am just cautious about them. I decided to steer and made the perfect approach into them which always cheers me up. The poor wife of Mr Bully appeared as we were on our way up, I was furious to discover that before we had even cleared filling the top lock they had emptied the bottom lock and were inside. They didnt even bother to check to see if there was a boat wanting to come down (which there was) as you’re supposed to let them down with the same water. grrrrrr.
At last we were clear of them and I couldnt help but chuckle as we went under Giggedy Bridge!
Found a mooring by The Round Oak pub and decided while it was nice and the garden was quiet we’d have an early tea and a pint to destress and shake the remnants of Mr Bull’s energy off.