Saturday, 26 April 2014

Heartbreak Hill

We are taking FL home, well to the place she was built. She has an appointment for a major service check of her engine gearbox stern tube and Webasto central heating boiler at Wedgewood Narrowboats on Monday.

We decided to get up early at 06:00  to get stuck into 'Heartbreak Hill' a stretch of 26 locks but it was pouring with rain and blowing a hooley. We eventually got going at 08:30 when the rain stopped.

Once through Hall Green Lock, we are on the Trent and Mersey two sharp left-handers through Hardings Wood Junction and we are at the first of the 26 Heartbreak Hill locks.  Most of the locks are duplicated locks, that is to say, two boats can either ascend or descend at the same time in a different lock chamber although some were out of action requiring repairs.

We set both of the first pair of locks as nb Wild Thyme was coming up behind us. They were a bit quicker than us, passed us, and where they could they lifted a paddle to help our progress on the way down, a very helpful couple. The wind was a nightmare and it pinned us to the bank on a couple of occasions as I hovered waiting for Sue to open the gates.

We only intended to do half the locks today but as the rain stayed away and the sun came out we pressed on. An exhausted Sue was pleased to be through the last of the 26 locks and on to the water point at Wheelock where she immediately went for a shower while the tank filled... anyone would think she has been working hard, I do all the hard work on the tiller at the back.

While at the water point I got chatting to Ken an 84-year-old from a working boatman family he can trace back to the 1850s. Ken himself was born on his parent's boat and worked on the boats during his teens until 1952 when the work dried up. If I can remember correctly he moved LPG gas between Trafford and Stoke amongst others. An interesting interlude before we moored up next to the kind crew on Wild Thyme.

First of Heartbreak Hill locks.

Canal Tavern at the first lock.

Sun came out but those clouds are flying across the sky.

Leaving the duplicated locks

The real world  M6 motorway.

Arriving at duplicated locks

Sue getting help from a youngster.


Elly and Mick said...

I love working the Heartbreak Hill locks. They're among my favourites. What an interesting chat you just have had with that fellow. Don't you wish you could go back in time for a day to see what life was like on the working boats?
Elly x

Andy said...

If only we could Elly. We always here that it was a hard life but a good life. The hard bit was the loading or unloading at the end of a trip, the cruising in between must of been magical. I suspect the locks and gear were kept in better repair than now as well.