The weather forecast said that the day would start dry but be much wetter later. So I did my best to get an early start, but getting out of bed before dawn is not my speciality. Even so, with a quick breakfast and a sense of purpose I cast off before 9am – and before Clare had finished her breakfast.
The electric cruise out of Market Drayton had something of the early morning feel to it. Hardly anyone was about and there was a stillness that felt early. The rolling countryside is not as spectacular as a Scottish mountain, but still very pretty.
Clare took over driving before the Adderley Locks, giving me enough time for a drink before hopping off the front of the boat at the bridge and dashing to get the first lock ready. It was set against us, so I had to fill it before I could open it. Clare had come quite close, and the rush of water in to the lock pulled her right up to the gate. She reversed out, but was unable to steer away from the weir just above the lock. The flow of water pulled the whole boat sideways on to the weir (despite the strong flow there was no danger of going over this one – it is simply not wide enough).
While trying to drive away Clare was pulled through a hedge backwards – to use the phrase she chose later. After several failed attempts, Clare came to the front of the boat and threw the bow rope to me. With me pulling and full throttle we got the nose of the boat in to the jaw of the (now open) lock. Full throttle, some rocking, and patience got the back of the boat round enough to get in to the lock – phew!
Once I’d emptied the lock, it had an interesting fountain under the head gate.
Clare kept well back from the weirs until the gates were open at the other locks. We were through them all by 11am, and decided to press on a little further. On approach to the Audlem Locks, the rain started to get heavier, so we moored up just before them. We watched the rain for a bit and had some lunch. There wasn’t much to see from the cutting, except a couple of cows that came for a drink opposite.
In a gap in the rain we moved on through the top two locks. The remaining nine have to be done together – we expected to get soaked if we tried. While mooring it was again obvious how strong the flow is on this bit of canal. The usual drift in to the bank didn’t work, the flow caught the boat and pushed it out again.
The rain came on heavily again soon after we got inside, vindicating our decision. This location has a better aspect (and internet connection). I spent the afternoon further refining the table-as-cupboard-door arrangement. Opening it is now a flowing operation that is no harder than moving the table itself.