Friday, 11 August 2017

The Hatton Flight.

Friday 11th August 2017 in Royal Leamington Spa.
Before dawn, the view was breathtakingly beautiful. The mist was still lingering over the water and in the valley, and the reflections in the still water were lovely.
M watched the sunrise over the horizon; it was a truly magical morning.
MM looked lovely too in the early morning sunlight less than an hour later.
We set off at eight o'clock, heading for the 23 locks that will take us down into Warwick. Before the lock flight is the 433 yard long Shrewley Tunnel, which is unusual in that there is a horse tunnel above the boat tunnel.
M decided not to walk over the top, knowing that there would be a lot of walking to do later today. In fact, by the end of the day, she grizzled that she had very tired feet!
A notice by the top lock of the Hatton flight gave instructions and we obediently waited for another boat to share the lock. This was also partly out of self interest because it is a lot easier to do the flight with at least three people.
We decided to have "second breakfast" while we waited but (predictably!) no sooner had we started to prepare it than Arthur turned up on nb "Gordon Bennet" and so we started through the locks.
It was quickly clear that Arthur was very experienced and so we breasted up the two boats, Arthur drove them both with MM's engine switched off, R worked each lock and M walked ahead to prepare the next lock.
Close to the top, there was a view through the trees of the old lunatic asylum, which is now fashionable upmarket apartments.
This view down the Hatton Flight is a famous one, with Warwick Church in the distance at the bottom.
Looking back up, the locks seem to bristle!
The Hatton locks are all wide locks; originally they were narrow locks but in the 1930s wide locks were built next to the original narrow ones to increase capacity as a government funded make-work project during the Depression. The original intent was to provide the ability to allow wide 100 ton barges to trade all the way from London to Birmingham, but the project was never completed. The old narrow locks can still be seen next to the wide locks and they are used as the bywash for the excess water flowing past the locks.
A familiar sight and a memory of the Birmingham canals, but it does look rather forlorn!.
We moored up in Royal Leamington Spa. The town is renowned for its handsome Regency architecture, yet sadly it is heavily industrialised and does not present its best aspect to the canal.
Today: 9 miles, 23 locks and 3.0 hours (plus 3.5 hours with MM's engine switched off!).
Trip: 186 miles, 187 locks and 136.2 hours.

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