Eastwood Lock to Victoria Quay, Sheffield
Goodbye Eastwood and the swans
Up early and ready to go as planned at 7.45 am. The canal passes right by Rotherham Station and Fran was sat waiting for us as we rounded the bend. Only time to pop her waterproof coat on before we handed her a windlass and walked up to Rotherham Lock, her very first lock. The rise here wasn’t very much as it is just a flood lock, but what was a shock was the length of it. We have become so used to big long locks over the last month that entering a 60 ft lock was a bit of a shock.
At Ickles Lock we carefully wound the paddles up. Virtually all are gate paddles which makes going up hill a little bit dodgy. Normally you start by opening the ground paddle on the same side as your boat, gate paddles would enter the equation later, but here you have no option. We tried the same side, but that pushed the bow over, so we compensated with the other side, this seemed to work and keep us to one side. But was this the knack to these locks?
Too much water
We reached the rendez vous point below Holme Lock at 9 am, so there was enough time for us to have a bacon buttie and a cuppa before we started in earnest. The Lockie appeared at 9.30 and started to empty the overflowing lock for us. Fran and I jumped off and went to help. He insisted on opening the paddle on the same side as Lillian and didn’t really wait for us to rope up. The bow swung over with a big bash! Thanks!!
Not a text book position
Fran avoiding getting a wet bum opening a gate
The next lock was another flood lock and then the Tinsley Flight. The Lockie had opened all the bottom gates so they were all waiting, he then would close and lock everything up behind us. Occasionally he got to a paddle before either Fran or I could and more often than not Lillian’s bow would hurtle across the lock no matter what Mick did with the engine. I managed to get him chatting a bit and found out that he has been working this flight for 31 years. I would have thought he would know how the water affected boats in them by now. The locks we had full control of didn’t seem to have any logic to them. Maybe Lillian was just a bit too long for the Lockies way of working them and the bow just got caught , who knows. But we ended up going up hill diagonally most of the way.
Gate paddle gear
One of the locks 7/8 must have been two locks originally. It is quite deep and the Lockie warned me to make sure our boat moved forward as it rose in the lock so as not to get caught under the walkway on the bottom gates. This lock has only one paddle, which fortunately is a ground paddle. I think Fran could have wound it straight up as Lillian’s ascent was very gentle. The amount of water coming over the top of the gates meant that Lillian’s bow got a very good wash. It also means that when we head down stream Mick is likely to get wet legs!
Top deck M1, bottom A631
Under the M1 you can just glimpse the back of Meadow Hall. All the times I’ve driven along the M1 I’d never realised that the bridge is actually a double decker. The lower lanes were almost stationary, Fran used to drive that way to work and was always caught up in traffic. Last week she returned from being part of Team GB at the Paralympics Games in Rio, she was a physio and was there for the full duration of the games. This got the Lockie talking for a while, mostly about mosquitoes, but then conversation stalled again.
Between the top three locks the two pounds have permanent moorings. If the boats want to go up or down the flight they still need to give 24 hours notice to be let out as each lock is padlocked up.
At the top of the flight we waved goodbye to the Lockie and started our approach into Sheffield, leaving the building sight of a new Ikea behind us. The flight though damp was quite easy, we’ve known harder, but some of the gates are bloomin heavy!
Fred happy to be in the red light district
Numerous bridges cross the cut, trams, trains, cars and people zigzag overhead for much of the two and a bit miles. As we came under Cadman Bridge the workshop doors were closed at Jonathan Wilsons / Finesse Boatyard hiding Oleanna from us. Jonathan was sat in a container with other chaps having a break, we waved and said hello, but he most probably thought “What’s that Yellow boat?”
She’s in that shed
Too long waiting for their pints
Once moored up on the 48 hr visitor mooring (which are 72 hrs really) Mick headed to say hello to Paul at CV Marine who run the basin, whilst I popped the sausage rolls in the oven. Once we were all back on board the heavens opened and showed us that it had only really been drizzling this morning! We will stay put where we are tonight and move into the basin tomorrow when NB Wine Down leaves. We’ll be able to hook up for a few days which will save us from running the engine. The stove has been lit, the ecofan is turning and Tilly has taken up her position on the sofa. If we keep the fire in tonight we may not have to share the bed with her.
15 locks, 7.32 miles, 1 new crew member, 3 bacon butties, 1 untalkative Lockie, 4 big bangs, 6 chocolate chip cookies, 12 sausage rolls, 5 percy pig sweets, 1 pork fuelled damp day.