Thursday 22 December 2011

Grand Union Canal. Stockton to Welsh Road.

We’re moored up for Christmas in a beautiful spot just above Welsh Road lock.
It’s very practical too, there’s a proper car park right next to the bridge, so the car is about 100 yards away; very useful when you’ve got a load of Christmas stuff to deliver to various parts of the country.

We chose this spot as it’s 5 locks and 4 miles from here into the centre of Leamington Spa. Anne’s coming to stay with us for Christmas and we’re planning on cruising down the locks and into town wearing Santa hats and playing carols at full blast. We reckon we can fit it in between opening presies and listening to the Queen’s speech on the radio.

We’ve gone from scraping the bottom of the coal scuttle to having enough fuel on board for a small power station. Despite being held up by the ice, Mark turned up with the coal boat Callisto at about lunch time on Tuesday and transferred 176 litres of diesel (ouch!) and 6 bags of Stoveglow onto Legend.
We did a careful calculation with our dip-stick and worked out that we have a 240 litre tank and that we’ve used 112 litres since we bought the boat in April. That’s 14 litres per month. While we were waiting for Callisto to come down the locks, Dave went scavenging in the woods and found a fallen Ash tree, most of which is now on our roof along with the coal.

British Waterways have been busy round here; 2 guys on a work boat followed us down the Bascote staircase locks and then set about the very leaky bottom gate with gusto. In less than an hour they’d turned the torrent or water rushing through the gates into something a lot less alarming. The morning after we arrived here at Welsh Road a whole team of day-glo suited blokes turned up with 2 vans and what looked like a torpedo on a trolley. On this part of the GU there are a lot of back pumps which take water from the bottom of a lock and return it to the top. In 1930, when the canal was modernised and improved, new wide locks were built alongside the original narrow ones. Nowadays the narrow locks are not used and the bottom gates have been replaced by weirs. When a back pimp is installed by a lock, they often get put inside the weir, pumping the shortest distance from the lower level to the higher. The torpedo turned out to be a new back pump, this is the old one after they pulled it out.
This is where the new one goes, you can just see the water flowing out of the top through the gap.
During the 5 hours it was switched off the water level dropped about 6 inches, although some of that may have been on purpose to make changing the pump easier. It took a whole day to recover to the proper level, although to be fair, this lock is due for closure in January for maintenance. Judging from the amount of boats on the move at the moment they could close anything anywhere and no-one would notice. Maybe it’ll be busier over Christmas week.

Merry Christmas reader and thank you for your company during what for us has been a momentous year. We’ve accomplished a lifestyle change that could so easily have been just a dream till it was too late. We wish we had pound for every time we’ve heard the phrase “Oh, I always wanted to do that.” It’s not our style to administer advice but if we’ve learnt anything on our travels it is this: Life is not a rehearsal. Use your best china.

1 comment:

Janice said...

Happy Christmas and have a great New Year from Neil, Janice, Zoe and Freddie!

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