Thursday, 24 September 2015

Jodrell Bank or GCSB

The rain hammered down during the night but we awoke to a dry day.  It wasn’t exactly sunny all day, however cruising when dry is preferable to wet!  Yesterday I mentioned those metal frames in Wast Hill Tunnel and today we went through Shortwood and Tardebigge Tunnels where I again noticed some of the frames.  This time I managed to get a photo.


It appears our two blog readers who left comments are correct.  The frames appear to hold telephone line insulators.

Both the ABC and Anglo Welsh hire bases appeared to be very quiet. The latter was actually closed.


Anglo-Welsh base at Tardebigge Wharf.

Memories of our 2007 cruise returned as we exited Tardebigge Tunnel.  I did note that the southern end of the tunnel was lined in brick and appeared to be cut through solid rock.   The CRT services are on the right and the first lock is very deep.  We stopped to top up the water tank and dispose of our rubbish before approaching the top lock of the Tardebigge Flight.


Wikipedia states the top lock is unusually deep because it replaced an experimental vertical boat lift.  At 30 locks it is the longest flight on the canal network.   There are a number of former lock keepers cottages along the flight and from the canal it appeared none had vehicle access.  However I subsequently checked Google Earth and it appears my initial observation was incorrect.

There’s a gap between the top and second lock (probably because of that experimental boat lift) and I wanted to get Jan back on board below the lock.  Unfortunately a Black Prince hire boat had discovered a wonderful mooring on which to leave their boat.

P1010847The Black Prince base is at the bottom of the flight which makes it difficult to believe the crew didn’t know the purpose of a lock landing!

The second lock is interesting because it has the old pump house beside the canal.  Water was drawn from the Tardebigge Reservoir (three locks further down the flight) and pumped to the top.

P1010849We developed a routine of me going forward to set the next lock whilst Jan completed the lock after Waiouru had departed.   It took just on four hours to complete the flight with all but two locks against us.  We only saw three boats and they were all going up.  You might have thought this would mean all the locks would be in our favour but they must leak badly because nearly every one was empty.

About halfway down the flight it appeared we might have reached Jodrell Bank or GCSB HQ.



It looks like a couple of amateur radio enthusiasts have set themselves up in two of the former lock keepers cottages.

It was about here I noticed a cyclist had stopped to watch us descend a lock.  He was dressed in a white polo shirt and black shorts.  Initially I thought he was taking our photo with a tablet before realising he was a CRT “number nicker” and was entering Waiouru’s boat details into his mobile data terminal.   I was quite pleased he had done this as CRT will have a record of our continuous cruising.

There are numerous plum trees on both sides of the canal all down the flight.  Unfortunately some boater had beaten us to all the low hanging fruit but Jan armed herself with the boat hook and collected enough plums for a pudding.


Eventually she filled the hat.

At the last lock we met the male members of a 67ft hire boat.  They had decided to forego lunch at The Navigation pub, Stoke Prior having been told by a local that the food from The Queen’s Head at the bottom of the flight was better.  I was asked if it was possible for them to wind at the bottom of the flight.  I had to tell them “No,  you either go up the 30 locks and wind before returning down the flight; or you reverse back through the five locks of the Stoke flight and wind at Stoke Prior.  Doing 60 locks will take all day and will be rather exhausting.  Reversing back down the canal through five locks for a first time hire crew on their first day will be interesting and challenging.  They decided not to make a decision hoping everything will look better in the morning! Smile


Ade said...

Nice post Tom, ah the memories 1987 I believe Karen & I did it with father! All looks about the same.

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Ade

We just took our time and admired the scenery as we slowly went down the flight. It was a contrast to our last time where we were rushing on the hire boat!