THE GIANT EAST MIDLANDS RING
21st June - 1st July 2008
The very skilled and intrepid crew have confirmed the extra 3
days of their adventure, which will now last until Tuesday 1st July. Alan
has devised a cunning route to test the crew to their very limits. The
route will be some 173.5 miles long, including 192 locks and their chances of
success is far from certain. The never attempted before route is to
be known as "The Giant East Midlands Ring". Click
see the master plan of their route.
Saturday 21st June
(light drizzle during the afternoon )
Sunday 22nd June
(a pleasant day with some sunshine, but very windy)
- The crew gathered at Alan's house at the start of
their epic journey at 9-30am. The uneventful journey took the crew
rapidly to The Kings Bromley Marina, where the narrowboat Rhapsody was
eventually located. As it was apparent that preparations for our
arrival were at an early stage, the crew took the opportunity to travel to
Lichfield to visit the local Morrisons establishment where full use was made
of their restaurant facilities. Morrison's big breakfasts were enjoyed
by two of the crew, whilst Neil chose Fish and Chips, but had to endure a
long wait. Afterwards sufficient healthy provisions, including Smoked
Mackerel Fillets were procured for
the start of the trip.
- After a short wait the crew were shown around the
boat by the owners and found it to be to their liking. A number of
enhancements including amble cushions and throws were observed which seemed
foreign to the crew. Ron took control of the boat and bravely
took it onwards down a number
of locks past Fradley Junction in the light rain. Although this
section of the canal was busy, most of the other boats were travelling
upward and delays to the crews progress proved to be minimal.
- The crew were staggered to observe a large number of
Canaltime hired narrowboats, with very incompetent Canadian crews, who
clearly had little experience of any navigational skills. Much
distress was endured by the competent crew.
- The crew were intrigued to observe the amazing fish
catching skills of a friendly Common Tern, who very closely followed the
boat, for at least an hour, successfully diving to catch his prey of small
The intended destination for the evening at
the village of Branston on the outskirts of Burton-on-Trent was
reached at 7-30, where Ron carefully selected an ideal mooring
location between a number of other boats.
- The crew hurried to the Bridge Inn, where after a
lengthy wait, enjoyed dinners of Seafood Risotto Marinari and Pizza, served
by a competent and very attractive host, Kathleen. They only served Marston Pedigree
real ale, which happily proved to be to the liking of the crew who enjoyed a number
of pints. Afterwards they returned to the narrowboat to consume very
small portions of cheese and biscuits to round off a successful day.
- The crew, aware that they had achieved their
challenging targets for the first day, retired to their beds to consider the
tasks for the following day.
- The crew enjoyed a relaxing comfortable night awakening
at the late hour of almost 7-30. Neil prepared hurried porridge and
they cast off around 8am to further explore the lower reaches of the Trent &
- Concern was raised when the crew realised a problem
with the rear loo, which appeared to have a flushing deficiency.
Electrical problems were ruled out and as the crew had brought no toolkit,
they felt that the matter should be reported to the boat owners. After
leaving a message and subsequently speaking with Tony, it was agreed that we
would only use the forward loo to save delays which would result from a
- After conquering the kitchen stove, Ron prepared an
excellent breakfast, which was consumed just before reaching Willington.
Favourable comments were made about the quality of the bacon.
- Shortly after Willington, the crew encountered the
first of the double width locks. However, these caused the crew no concern,
due to their superior skills.
||As can be seen, considerable effort was required to
operate the large paddles of these locks.
Monday 23rd June
(warm and sunny and the wind has dropped)
- Due to their excellent boat handling skills, the crew planned to spend their second night at Shardlow
and arrived on schedule at 4-30. Neil was despatched to enquire as to
the best of the several Shardlow pubs. He later returned to
recommend that the crew try the Malt Shovel public house and they hurried to investigate
- The crew became fed up with Neil complaining bitterly
about being bitten alive by the local wildlife. As a result we
challenged him to display his wounds to the world. Herewith are the
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- Having moored at Shadlow at an early hour the crew
felt the need to visit the recommended Malt Shovel establishment.
Again the crew found the Marstons Pedigree to their liking and consumed a
significant number of pints before returning to the boat for showers and a
change of clothing. To their dismay they discovered that no food was
served at the Malt Shovel after 6-15 and therefore headed to the Clock
Warehouse, where dinners of Gammon, Bangers & Mash and Mixed Grill were
purchased. Afterward the crew found the need to take a walk round the
local marina before returning to the Malt Shovel for a final pint prior to
an early night, without need of cheese and biscuits.
- The crew remained very nervous about the
dangers of leaving the safety of the canal system in the morning and
entering the fast flowing and treacherous rivers Trent and Soar, where their
safety remains in the hands of their skipper. They left for their
bunks in a quiet and solitary mood at the early hour of 10-30pm.
Tuesday 24th June
(a beautiful sunny day)
- The crew (except Alan) complained of a lot of banging
during the night and at one stage Ron had to get up to close the rear doors
which had been blown open by the strong winds.
The crew arose at 7-30 to consume
numbing porridge prepared by Neil. The passage down the last section of
the canal was quickly completed before travelling through the Derwent
Mouth Lock, where the narrowboat entered the wide and dangerous River Trent.
Although very hazardous the crew were able to
navigate the boat successfully through the strong currents to the
new cut, where they filled with water adjacent to the Sawley Bridge
- Passing through the giant electrically operated
Sawley Lock, operated by Alan, the narrowboat again entered the treacherous
waters of the River Trent, where Neil successfully navigated the tight turn
into the River Soar, adjacent to a fearfully large weir. After the
dangers had passed the crew were able to relax on the pleasant waters of the
river and their thoughts again turned to food. Ron again volunteered
to cook breakfast and they moored in the entrance to the Kegworth Shallow
lock to enjoy their food, knowing the dangerous tasks for the day had been
Waiting to enter the Ratcliffe
- The plan to reach Mountsorrel for the evening now
seemed achievable, although the fast flowing waters around Loughborough
still had to be navigated.
The crew relaxed through the beautiful
countryside in the sun watching the planes making their approach to
East Midlands Airport, knowing that the Pork Pie remained safely in
at the Bishop Meadow Lock when a very wet Neil arrived dripping
at the front door of the boat. The sure footed member of the crew
had taken an
unexpected dip in the river !!!
- With the extra excitement of the day the crew felt
consume the pork pie, which was enjoyed along with pickles and salad.
The narrowboat drew into Mountsorrel, the intended
destination, at 6-15pm. Although the crew were at first concerned
about the lack of mooring, they quickly located a suitable location close to
the Waterside Inn. They felt obliged to test the ales,
before dinner, but were disappointed to find the Moorlands Original
barrel run dry after just one pint, before reluctantly changing to
Everards Tiger Bitter.
- The crew returned to the boat for quick refreshing
showers before rushing back to order their dinners of Gammons and Lasagna
before the cut off time of 8-30pm. The meals proved so satisfying that
they felt that no further ale was necessary and they returned to their boat
for coffee with small portions of cheese and
- The excited and skilled crew remained apprehensive
about travelling through Leicester the following day, which was reported as
being full of debris that could jeopardise the safety of the boat.
However the crew remained confident that their superior skills would ensure
the success of their mission and retired to their bunks after being unable
to locate Wimbledon on the television.
- The relaxed and confident crew sleep soundly until
7-50, when Neil prepared mysterious porridge for the crew. Their
tensions were calmed further by a quick magnetic fishing competition, which Neil won, despite Ron using two rods. The scores being Neil - 6,
Alan - 4 and Ron - 2.
||NEAR CATASTROPHE AVERTED
A collision with a large barge, with
inexperienced crew, was narrowly
avoided by the quick thinking actions of Ron. Although
Rhapsody almost went into the reeds, the crew were pleased to see
that the barge and crane became firmly stuck in the bank !!!
After this frightening experience, the crew felt the need for coffee
Rhapsody soon entered the nicer
areas of Leicester
- After reaching the centre of Leicester the
improved and the crew took time to visit a Sainburys Local store to
obtain more supplies of bread, tomatoes, baked beans and cheese. After
the exertions of the day, the crew treated themselves to Magnum ice creams,
which were greatly enjoyed.
The crew became concerned when the canal
considerably narrowed, however their natural instincts
enabled the craft to be navigated to safety with great skill.
- ENGINE PROBLEM - Whilst leaving a lock, the
crew were alerted to a problem when the engine overheating alarm sounded.
The engine was stopped and the narrowboat drifted helplessly and perilously
close to the dangerous reed bank, whilst the skilled crew diagnosed the
problem. A split hose was soon located and after allowing the engine
to cool the radiator cap was removed. Several pints of water had to be
added and then it was found that by leaving off the pressure cap, the
leakage was negligible. After speaking to the owners the boat was
taken gently to Bridge 94 in South Wigston, to await Tony with a replacement
- The mooring at South Wigston was difficult with an
ill defined reed bank, but the experienced crew found no difficulty in
securing the boat and deploying a plank to reach the bank. The crew's
thoughts again returned to food and a visit was made to the Glen Parva
Manor, where several pints of Marstons pedigree were consumed, followed by
dinners of Chicken Wensleydale, Chicken Tikka Masala & Fish and Chips were
- The crew returned to the boat to enjoy cheese and
biscuits with complimentary white wine. Tony arrived shortly
afterwards and fitted a new hose and thermostat to the engine. After a
lengthy testing "Rhapsody" was deemed fixed and Tony was despatched to his home
declining the offer of ale.
The crew relieved at the outcome, surprisingly felt the need for further
refreshment and hurriedly returned to the Glen Parva Manor for further
quantities of Marstons Pedigree ale.
- The relaxed crew later returned to the boat to retire
to their bunks conscious of the demanding tasks ahead of them necessary to
reach their planned destination for tomorrow of the fearful Foxton flight of Locks.
Wednesday 25th June
(another beautiful sunny day, but with an occasional short shower and strong
- The relieved and relaxed crew awoke at an early hour
knowing that their narrowboat was in "Tip Top" condition. They quickly
devoured Neil's electrifying porridge and cast off before 8am. Ron was
soon guiding them carefully into Bush Lock on the continuation of their epic
journey towards their planned destination that evening of Foxton locks. The
crew were aware that the drinking water levels were running dangerously low
on board, but had
located a possible filling point at Kilby Bridge.
After filling with water the crew were faced
with a major obstruction of the waterways, but were able to
successfully handle the situation.
The large number of giant double locks were skilfully
operated by the crew as they pressed on through the beautiful Leicestershire
countryside. In order to conserve canal water the crew teamed up with
another narrowboat to share locks in a very responsible manner.
- To the amazement of all on board at the second from
last lock Ron met his sister and husband coming down the locks on a
narrowboat. Ron claimed that he has no knowledge of his sister owning
a narrowboat, but the other crew found this unlikely. His sister was
able to confirm in person that they would not be attending the forthcoming
wedding of Ron's daughter.
- A total of some 16 giant double locks were
accomplished during the morning and the crew were acutely aware that
their exertions had been achieved without the benefit of cooked breakfasts.
However, on reaching top lock the crews thoughts turned to food and Ron
started to grill healthy sausages and soon moored at the first convenient
location at Fleckney Bridge.
After breakfast and despite their grave concerns, the crew
successfully traversed the infamous "Saddington Tunnel" (881 yds),
said to be infested with bats.
- A stop was made at Debdale Wharfe, where the crew
visited a boat building establishment to procure a 25 amp fuse. The
kind staff, aware of the crucial nature of the crew's expedition, supplied
a new fuse, together with a spare, without charge.
- Due to the crew's excellent progress "Rhapsody"
pulled into her moorings, close to the Foxton Locks basin, at the early hour
of 4pm. The compassionate crew were quick to assist a narrowboat, with
inexperienced crew, that was in difficulty and guided the boat in reverse back to the
lock basin where they turned it with the use of ropes and considerable
skill. The crew were anxious to investigate the formidable
staircase of 10 locks and dispatched Alan to enquire with the lock keeper
the arrangements for ascending the flight. He requested an early start
and was asked to report at 7-15am. The lock keeper was quick to
recognise the superior skills of the crew and they expected a rapid
transition of the locks at the start of the following day's expedition, when they planned to reach Crick.
Neil selected the Foxton Locks Inn for dinner,
where he noted nourishing Fish Pie and vegetables on the menu
together with a good selection
of real ales.
- However before booking a table at the Foxton Locks
Inn, Alan suggested a walk to Foxton Village a mile or so away to investigate two alternative pubs, but
these were not found to suit the crew's needs. After a tour of the
historic incline lift site, the crew returned for showers and a change of
clothing, before heading to enjoy their dinners of Fish Pies, with red
cabbage, carrot and french beans. London Pride was selected as the
accompaniment for the dinner until the barrel ran dry, after which
Bombardier and Jennings "Tom Fool" was consumed. Before returning to
the boat for cheese and biscuits the crew felt the need to visit an
alternative premises (Bridge 61) where Adnam's ales were sampled. The
tired and exhausted crew retired to the beds, but were unable to settle due
to their deep concerns about ascending the feared Foxton Lock staircase
in the morning.
Thursday 26th June
(another sunny day, clouding over later with some wind)
- The anxious crew were up well before 7am to take Rhapsody to
the start of the staircase locks and booked their passage with the friendly
lock-keeper. However, even at that early hour they found themselves
second in the queue for the start of their dangerous ascent. The
skilled crew were unperturbed and spent their waiting time preparing
portions of stimulating porridge.
Rhapsody awaiting her turn to
ascend the Foxton Locks
- The ascent of the feared 10 Foxton Locks presented no
difficulty for the skilled crew who fell into their well oiled staircase
lock routine. The lock-keeper at the top, obviously impressed by the
speed and efficiency of the manoeuvres, suggested to the crew that they should
make use of the top lock cafe for rations of double egg and sausage
breakfasts. Rhapsody was moored and quickly the crew were enjoying
their well earned food. After a look round the museum they
returned to the boat to continue onward towards their planned stopping point
for the night at Crick, knowing that all the locks for the day had been
accomplished, but were aware that yet another obstacle lay ahead of them.
Husbands Bosworth Tunnel (1170 yds) came upon
the crew quite quickly, but due to its extreme narrowness they
prayed not to meet another boat during their passage
The crews worst fears happened when
a narrowboat appeared out of the darkness travelling at great speed. The other members
of the crew were amazed at the boat handling skills shown by Ron in
avoiding a collision
- As progress was ahead of schedule, the crew decided
to take a diversion down the Welford Arm, where they hoped to collect
additional supplies of milk and fresh drinking water. The tight turn
was made without difficulty and after 45 minutes and one lock they were at
their destination. Whilst Neil supervised the water filling operations
and prepared a health lunch of smoked mackerel fillets and salad, the others
went in search of a store. They returned with fresh milk and a soft
wholemeal multiseeded batch loaf to the great delight of everyone.
- After lunch the narrowboat was successfully turned in
the confined space using rope, barge poles and skilful use of the engine.
A four hour journey through the countryside followed, before Rhapsody was
carefully guided into her moorings at Crick for the night at 6pm.
Although Crick boasts 3 pubs, the crew hurried to
the Red Lion where their finely tuned instincts detected the best
food and ale. They were not disappointed and enjoyed dinners
of beef madras, seafood platter and tagine of lamb, with a suitable
quantity of Bombardier real ale.
- Afterwards the crew returned to the boat to discuss
their plans for the difficult day ahead. They were acutely aware that
two tunnels (The longest yet), together with the dreaded Watford staircase locks
lay ahead of them and this together with the extra stress of having to
negotiate the additional narrowboat traffic at Braunston for the weekend
festival, would put unbearable pressure on them. The thought of these
daunting tasks made their minds turn to food and portions of cheese and
biscuits were taken to calm their nerves.
Friday 27th June
(a sunny morning, but rather cold to start)
- The crew were up before 7am and left their moorings
at 7-20 after fulfilling porridge, shortly to enter the long, dark and
dangerous Crick Tunnel (1529 yds). After a successful transition of
the tunnel they shortly passed under the M1 motorway before arriving at the
Watford staircase lock system. After reporting to the lock keeperess,
with bicycle, they awaited between locks 1 & 2 for two other boats to pass
upwards, before the crew skilfully and swiftly navigated the locks.
Although progress was good passing boaters warned of life shattering delays
at Braunston during the build up to the weekend festival.
- Despite another narrowboat travelling at high speed
on the Grand Union main line, Neil managed the incredibly tight turn at
Norton Junction and the crew realised that they would soon be at the second
tunnel of the day. The far from straight Braunston tunnel at 2042
yards was the longest yet of the adventure and the crew were aware that the
high level of fumes that are trapped in the depths, would cause life
threatening problems. To make matters even worse not only one, but two
boats were met travelling in the opposite direction. With Neil's
advanced steering capabilities calamity was avoided.
- Braunston Junction was not the greatest moment for
the crew. A slight communication lapse meant that Neil tried to turn
right instead of left. With an adverse wind and a late decision
some inelegant to'ing and fro'ing was necessary, much to the amusement of the
owner of a wooden barge parked on the junction. The crew then met a
barge coming in the opposite direction who indicated they wanted to turn
right. However, it transpired that too much was read into the
signal as he was merely pointing out Braunston to a friend and they in fact
wanted to go left. Words of advice were exchanged.
- Life calmed down for the crew after Braunston and
their attention again turned to food. A stop was made for a cooked
breakfast before Napton Junction. After the junction, which was
skilfully negotiated by Alan, only the Stockton flight of 10 double locks
lay between the crew and their intended stopping point for the evening at
Long Itchington. At the top of the three Calcut locks the crew stopped
briefly to consume freshly prepared asparagus tips with ham and hot dogs.
The unusual combination was greatly appreciated and provided additional
energy to the tackle to forthcoming locks.
- On arrival at Long Itchington, completely on
schedule, the boat was moored on an exposed aqueduct location only a few
hundred yards from their chosen eating place for the evening, the Two Boats.
Dinners of Scampi and 8 oz rump steaks (medium) were chosen by the hungry
crew, together with a number of pints of Adnams Broadside ale. After
dinner Alan and Neil decided on a walk to investigate the village of Long
Itchington, which they considered to be very pretty and well to do area.
They felt compelled to visit the "Duck on the Pond" public house and try a
pint of their Charles Wells Bombardier ale, served by an attractive Slovakian
waitress. Afterwards they returned to the boat satisfied that their narrowboating expedition remained on-plan.
Saturday 28th June
(a sunny and hot day)
- The crew awoke at 7-20 am to a fine morning and Neil
prepared energising porridge to sustain the crew for a long and arduous day
with some 31 giant Grand Union locks to tackle. Ron left at the crack
of dawn in search of bacon and sausages and came back armed with a range
of delights to the amazement of the other members of the crew.
- After leaving, the first locks very quickly came
into the sight of the crew. It was double staircase without any sign of a lock-keeper
to ensure safe passage, however, the crew were un-daunted by this fact and
swiftly operated the lock system in a speedy and professional manner, much
to relief of the other canal users. After this the locks that followed
were of the now normal double size.
Rhapsody entering a giant Grand Union Lock No 22,
just before reaching Leamington Spa
- Following Lock 23 the canal wound its way through
Leamington Spa and Warwick and after the exertions of the morning the crew
moored to enjoy a delicious cooked breakfast prepared by Ron. However,
the crew were only too conscious that a further 21 locks had to be negotiated before the
end of the day.
The first two Warwick (Cape) locks presented no
problems until the crew caught sight of the formidable Hatton
flight. The crew set about the ascent with their normal
fortitude. About half of the locks were empty which reduced
the load somewhat. However, operating the paddles was still
very draining with 22.5 turns to fully open or close each one and
having to climb continuously out of the boat to hold the barge
against the current was equally draining.
The crew felt need to celebrate the successful
ascent of the Hatton Locks, by treating themselves to Magnum
ice-creams, which greatly lifted their spirits.
- The obvious relief that the crew showed after the
success of their
extreme exertions made their thoughts again return to food and Neil quickly
prepared ham sandwiches with salad, including pickled onions, which were
consumed on the move to their final stopping point for the evening at Kingswood
Junction. A stop was made a mile short of Kingswood at Turners Green,
but the location was deemed too close to the M40 motorway for a good night's
sleep and also the pub was closed!!
- The crew then walked the last mile to Kingswood and selected a
suitable mooring location. The Navigation Inn was visited, where
a table was booked and their Adnams Broadside Ale tested, which proved
entirely to their satisfaction. After returning to the boat it was
quickly repositioned to Kingswood and after showers they headed back to the
Navigation for dinners of Gammon, Chicken, Leek and Stilton Casserole, and
Smoked Haddock, with mashed potatoes. After a second pint of Adnams
the crew changed to further pints of Timothy Taylors Landord ale.
- The details of their planned journey into the heart
of Birmingham on Sunday were discussed, back at the boat, while they
finished off the bulk of their cheese and biscuits supplies. The
journey would entail a torturous 17 miles, the 20 Lapworth locks and 9.5
hours of cruising. The crew, although nervous, were aware that the
Birmingham visit was achievable and greatly looked forward to the
possibility of a Chinese Dinner at Gas Street Basin. Although Rhapsody had been moored
close to a railway bridge, the tired and exhausted crew were confident of a
good night's sleep and they retired to their bunks, after
a little Wimbledon, to contemplate the successes of the day.
Sunday 29th June
(Warm with some sun in the morning with heavy rain showers in the afternoon)
- The crew awoke at 7am to devise their plans for the
ascent of the Long Laborious Lapworth Locks. They decided a surprise
dawn attack before the locals awoke. After extra portions of pleasing
porridge they set off, maintaining radio silence and with the engine in
quiet mode they stealthily attacked the first 15 locks. At
the following lock, however their luck changed when three local narrowboats,
with inexperienced crew, set off greatly slowing their progress.
However, with skill and determination, top lock was reached in an
amazing 2 hours and 20 minutes.
- The crew scoured the maps to locate a farm shop,
which had been visited on a previous adventure, where they hoped to top up
their supplies of on-board provisions. They fondly remembered the
excellent Pork Pie that was purchased previously and felt that after the
successes of the Lapworth Locks, they deserved special treats. In an
organised way Ron, knowing the shop to be located near Bridge 20, advised
that breakfast preparations would be started at precisely Bridge 24.
Alan dangerously climbed to
great heights to help locate the Pork Pie Shop
- Great disappointment assailed the crew, when after
finishing their superb breakfast and hurrying towards the farm shop they
found it closed !!! The realisation struck them of yet another lunch
without pork pie.
An obstacle in the canal
almost brought the adventure to an untimely end, had it not been for
the crew's extraordinary skills
No difficulties were
experienced as Rhapsody was navigated through the historic
lock near Kings Norton Junction
Neil prepared tunnel sustaining
"Cup-a-Soups" for the crew as they traversed the Branwood Tunnel
The perilously sharp turn into
the Birmingham and Worcester canal was handled with easy by Ron
Despite periods of heavy rain
the determined crew pushed on with their epic mission
The estimated time of arrival
in Birmingham remained on schedule,
because of the bravery of the tough crew
- On-board stocks of drinking water and provisions were
running dangerously low as the crew approached Birmingham. The mission
was becoming a race against the clock, for fear that Sainsbury's may be
- Rhapsody pulled into its moorings at Gas Street
basin, Birmingham just after 5pm. After filling with water the crew
hurried to a local Tesco Express and purchased essential provisions
including, Porridge, Bread, Milk & Coffee. However, they were
disappointed to note that there was no stock of Pork Pies. Despondent
they made their way to the Malt House, where they were looking forward to
several pints of Courage Directors on the Balcony overlooking the canal.
To their horror they discovered that no real ales of any variety were
available. They therefore left to return to their boat without Pork
Pie or Ale !!!!
- Following a recommendation, the crew looked in vain
for the Prince of Wales public house, who were alleged to stock a good
selection of real ales. After some research on Google, the pub was
located an a number of pints of Timothy Taylors and Broadside were sampled,
before heading for the now traditional Chinese at the Tin Tin restaurant in
Brindley Place. Banquet dinners, with crispy duck, were enjoyed,
followed by some more ale at the Prince of Wales.
- The crew returned to their boat, but were unable to
consider either cheese or biscuits and retired to their bunks to ponder
whether they would ever to find the elusive Pork Pie.
Monday 30th June
(Hot and Sunny all day)
- Despite revellers returning to their homes at 4am, the
crew slept soundly until 7-20am. New Tescos (smooth) porridge was
prepared while the crew made preparations for the major descent of locks
through the heart of Birmingham centre.
The13 Birmingham City Centre
locks were negotiated in a textbook manner by the competent crew
MAJOR LOCK PROBLEM - Whilst taking
a short break before the start of the Aston Flight of locks, the crew were
approached, on foot, by a person from the boat ahead, who was greatly
distressed. It transpired that the pound between locks 1 & 2 was
nearly empty and totally impassable. The experienced crew finished
their coffee and went to investigate the problem.
The distressed boat owner had already
reported the matter to British Waterways and was awaiting a call-back.
The intrepid and skilled crew, using their advanced analytical skills
quickly diagnosed the problem and set about remedial action. Both
paddles on Lock 1 were opened fully and very quickly the pound level started to
rise. Within 30 minutes the lock pound was returned to normal and both narrowboats were able to passed successfully down the flight.
The skilled crew were able to
return the lock system to full working order
Neil saved Rhapsody from certain
disaster when a train of large barges, pulled by a tug with
experienced crew, veered dangerously towards the narrowboat
After the excitement of the day, the crew took
time to fill with drinking water and prepare breakfast at the Cuckoo
Bridge mooring area
After breakfast, Neil took a walk in
search of a Pork Pie shop, but failed in his mission to locate one. In
desperation he even called at a local cafe, who were also out of stock.
The severe shortage of Pork Pies in the area, caused the crew much distress
and they resigned themselves to yet another day without one.
The Birmingham & Fazeley canal took Rhapsody
beneath "Spaghetti Junction" for some distance
The intrepid and skilled crew
of the narrowboat Rhapsody remain calm despite intolerable pressures
Later in the afternoon after making good
progress down the Birmingham and Fazeley canal, the engine overheating
warning again sounded. After a number of attempts at limping onwards
the owners were called and the emergency services scrambled. The crew had
diagnosed failure of the same hose that had been replaced earlier in the
Trevor and colleague from the "Rivers &
Canals Rescue" service arrived at 7-05pm and set about the task of repairing
the Rhapsody overheating engine. They quickly replaced the faulty hose and
set about the difficult job of purging the cooling system of air.
After completion and pressurising the system, yet another leaking hose was
found, which also had to be replaced. The competent engineers left at
8-30pm declaring the engine fixed and the crew then hurried to the White
Horse in Curdworth for belated dinners of Fish Pie, Curry and Gammon.
To the delight of the crew Alan negotiated a special half price deal on the
Everards Tiger Bitter, the taste of which
proved slightly better than the crew had expected.
After the excitement of the day the crew
felt need for cheese and biscuits on board their boat, before retiring to
their bunks relieved that all was well in the engine department.
However, they were critically aware that they has seriously fallen behind
their targets and getting Rhapsody back to its moorings in Lichfield for
Tuesday night was far from certain. A very early start would be
The completion of the adventure
remained in jeopardy
Tuesday 1st July
(Another hot and sunny day)
- The crew awoke early and after large helpings of
perfect porridge cast off at 7-45am on their mission to make up the lost
time and attempt to return Rhapsody to its home base at The Kings Bromley
Marina near Lichfield.
- The Curdworth flight of 11 locks lay before them and
although started well, a number of other craft were seen to delay the
progress of Rhapsody. However, with great skill the locks were past
and the crew settled down for the long cruise to Fazeley Junction. As
considerable energy would be needed for the difficult tasks ahead of the
crew, Ron took the opportunity to start breakfast shortly after 10am, so
that there would be time to fit in a nourishing lunch. In anticipation
of the hard work ahead, the crew awarded themselves additional breakfast
rations, with 1 1/3 sausages, 1 1/3 bacon rashers and an extra slice
of toast, much to their delight.
The very difficult Fazeley
Junction was completed with great competence, despite much other
Rhapsody pushed onwards relentlessly, through
busy waters, to get to its destination
The crew remain vigilant at all
times for a Pork Pie Shop
The journey to Fradley Junction at the
top of the Coventry Canal proved the busiest section of the whole adventure
with a constant stream of passing boats, testing the crews skills, however
this did not detract them from the difficult task in hand of getting
Rhapsody back to its home base. Telephone contact was made with the
owners and provisional meeting point and time agreed.
Fradley Junction was reached in good time
and the crew knew that completion of their adventure was within their gasp.
However, they had to remember that three more locks awaited them after the
junction and success could not be guaranteed. The difficult turn at Fradley Junction was executed with great precision,
but delays occurred at the last locks
due to a significant number of poorly crewed narrowboats.
Rhapsody pulled into her final moorings
and awaited the arrival of the owner. The jubilant crew congratulated
themselves on another successful adventure which had brought more testing
and fearful incidents than any previous trip. However, they were only
too aware that the bulk of the voyage had been completed without the benefit
of Pork Pie, but vowed to continue the search for supplies on their next
adventure starting the first week in September.
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