Leaving Wrenbury on the Monday morning, the main challenge was the Grindley Brook Locks. Heading upstream, there are three locks in a flight very close to each other, followed by a three chamber staircase. Queues here are legendary, and a three up three down regime normally enforced through the staircase: on a bad day, six hours delay has been quoted. It seemed as though the resident lockkeeper’s main role was that of refereeing the punch-ups between those near the front of the queue, and arriving hire boat crews who had misjudged and were now going to be late getting back to their base (which is expensive).
But first, passing through Willey Moor Lock, it seemed rude not to moor up and partake of their beer and sandwiches for lunch.
Arriving at Grindley Brook mid afternoon, there was virtually no one around apart from gongoozlers in the the tea shop! Working the three single locks ourselves we met one boat coming down, then with the lockkeeper setting up the staircase for us, we covered all the six chambers in about 40 minutes. Something of a record, we reckon.
The lockkeeper said that Thursdays used to be the really bad day, but one of the canal guides mentioned this in a recent edition, following which some of the traffic now makes an effort to get through on the Wednesday. So now both days are busy and best avoided. Ho hum. Mind you, the hire fleets now spread out their turnaround days and have short break packages, so boats start out on three or four different days during the week, rather than just everyone departing on a manic Saturday afternoon for a week’s cruise, as once used to be the case.
Skirting and eschewing the delights of Whitchurch town (the sun was getting seriously past the yard-arm), once back out in the countryside, we moored up rather pleased at our progress, given the circumstances.