Sunday 21st February 2010
I looked out at 7am just in time to see the tail end of a snowstorm which had added at least another two inches of fresh snow overnight but at least this meant the temperature was on the rise after hitting minus 5.5 during the night.
I therefore got my lie-in and got up again after 9 when a lot of the fresh snow had already melted. At about 10am I optimistically set off into the ice, which although thawing, was still almost enough to stop us dead in our tracks. In fact it did several times, but taking another run at it broke through. Too late to think about the paintwork now though. Without the thaw in the brilliant morning sunshine there would have been no way on earth I could have continued the journey, but I was keen not to become stranded in a lock flight.
Lapworth locks were quite hard work single handed, as they have no tail landing, which means opening the gates then using the ladder to get back on the boat, which isn’t too bad as the locks aren’t deep. In the snow however it meant taking everything half speed, as well as walking on to open the next lock and then back to close the previous one, trebling the distance walked at each lock and not being able to leave the boat unattended while going down due to the ice. Its funny how some pounds and some locks were ice free, whereas other locks were frozen solid.
Worth noting for anyone who hasn’t broken ice to get into a lock, the ice fragments have a nasty habit of jamming vertically between the brickwork and the boat, so when this happens there is even more work to do, making sure the boat isn’t hanging as it drops down the lock. Smashing ice with a heavy shaft is also quite satisfying.
By the time I got to the bottom of the flight, 15 locks later, I was ready for a late lunch, which I ate in the sun wearing only a tee shirt and jeans after shedding a layer of clothing every hour on the way down! The area around Kingswood Basin and its complex canal junction is a lovely location, very popular with dog walkers, and I can well understand why mooring vacancies here always attract a lot of interest, even though there are locks galore in every direction!
So Zulu is now moored just beyond the visitor moorings, close enough to walk to Lapworth station.
Thanks again to Matilda Rose blog, who reminded me that the Lapworth flight was no longer closed due to the early completion of the Lock 19 stoppage. Looking at the fresh snow alongside each lock, I think I was the only boat to follow you all week.
Today I have done 2 miles and 15 locks which took just under 4 hours, ending up within a boat’s length of the Grand Union. Finally almost on the right canal but there’s still a long way to Uxbridge! No point in rushing though, as Braunston and Buckby still have stoppages which could well be delayed until Easter due to the weather.