We noticed something very interesting this morning as we came back onto the main line of the canal and headed down towards Stourton Junction. The weather when we’re in the countryside has been good, the weather in the cities not so good:
- Saturday : open Cheshire countryside – wonderful weather
- Sunday : Heading up the lock – bit industrial but no cities : pretty good weather
- Monday : Stoke on Trent : grim weather
- Tuesday : Open countryside down to Huddlesford Junction : pretty good weather
- Wednesday : Heading into Birmingham – foggy, damp and miserable
- Thursday – Heading out of Birmingham – weather not that bad
- Friday – open countryside – weather very good again.
So there we go – it looks like to have good weather on canal holidays you need to avoid cities like Stoke and Birmingham.
Progress down the last four locks to the junction was a little slow and we were worried the boat in front of us might be turning right and heading up the canal, but luckily they turned left. The canal was quite busy and we met quite a few boats on the move and got stuck in a little queue of boats coming up through Swindon Lock No 18 but it didn’t cause any real problems and Botterham Staircase Locks turned out not to be a problem at all as most of the traffic seemed to be going upstream.
We stopped on the moorings at Wombourne Bridge No 43 and after lunch had a quick pint in The Waggon & Horses which has changed an awful lot since Nick and I last drank in there. There’s even a big Sainsbury’s on the other side of the bridge which is well worth knowing about if you need to do some shopping.
We were naturally expecting to have to wait at The Bratch but it was empty and we sailed straight in. Bratch Top Lock No 25 was already empty so when we started filling Bratch Middle Lock No 24 the water was all being puled from the side pond and the whirlpool that formed when we opened the gate paddle was extremely impressive and a little bit scary – it was about a foot wide and the water was corkscrewing into it – so it looked like someone had just removed a large screw…. waster is not supposed to have holes in it like that.
The canal seemed to have quietened off again and Dimmingsdale Lock No 28 had about 2 foot of water in it which seemed a bit odd as it doesn’t seem to leak.
We stopped quite early – taking the last vacant visitor mooring at Compton. We booked a table at the tiny and extremely quirky “Tiger Wok” which is just over the canal bridge, and spent the rest of the evening in The Swan which, if you want good beer and atmosphere , is the better of the two pubs near the canal in our humble opinion – but if you don’t like classic basic boozers full of people chatting and playing darts and dominoes then you might disagree.