Nine locks in a row, 2 hours & 12 minutes, beginning in frosty mist, ending in sunshine #narrowboat #England #Audlem

There are some rather nifty moorings, sans Shroppie Shelf, betwixt locks 3 and 2, so one has bunged oneself on them for a spot of a breather after nine locks in a row this morning.

The day dawned in a rather Dickensian mood, with smoke from early-morning stoves being encouraged back to life, and a good, thick mist sitting between the boats and the trees. Volunteers for the “the CaRT” took a work-boat up, not exactly at Sparrow-Fart O’Clock, but certainly well before office hours. A couple of other boats zoomed towards the locks afterwards. I indulged in coffee and in toast with lime marmalade. Caffeine, carbohydrates and sugars so that my liver might maintain a healthy steam-pressure throughout the flight.

I am fairly sure that lock pounds are not supposed to have muddy beaches and rocky outcrops, as this one did.

The first couple of pounds were less than replete with water, and I had to – forgive my reference to the Continental habit here – I had to spit into them a couple of times to prevent the Cardinal from grounding. The lock landings, blessed with their own utterly silly version of the main Shroppie Shelf, were on the shallow side of use to neither man nor beast. The poor Cardinal’s bum got scraped a couple of times before his thicko-idiot pilot learnt his lessons.

There were a slack handful of other boats up and boats down, but I am as pleased as a pleased thing to report that those following behind me did not catch me up. I had the benefit of a couple of cross-overs with boats coming down, and for the rest, time and leisure to take my time and leisure. I began walking ahead to prepare the next lock, leaving the lower gates open so that I could just oik the Cardinal straight out of one lock and up into the next, only then going back to close the gates on the earlier lock. This allowed me to dispense with the SS-ledge and the several areas of “repair” blighting the lock landings.

The scene of a happy cross-over, spot the boat and boaters going down, away from camera… NB., distance is very much foreshortened here because of the telephotoid lens…

When Mr Sunshine began to show his face, burning off the morning frost and mist, things began to look a tad autumnal in nature.


The moral of the tales of this morning’s travels? The Audlem flight is a damned sight easier and more pleasant if you forget the (theoretical) lock landings and work out some other modus. Hard work, certainly, moving home and hearth through a Victorian system, but also oddly, peculiarly, fun, in a weird sort of a way.


For the last couple of locks the sky turned bright blue and the sun, while not as warm as summer, was at least as bright and cheerful. The scenery from these moorings is, as usual, quite decidedly not Hackney.


It is very much England though.


I will confess to being pooped enough to have moored right under some damnable power lines, and to not giving a rodent’s rectum, just this once… I just wanted to stop.


My breakfast had worn off a few locks back, and I made good use of the memorial bench that some kind soul had seen fit to provide there… right alongside the first patch of decent moorings, a respectable distance away from the lock, and with possibly the best view – although tis the Cardinal that has the view now, all anyone on the bench will see at the moment is a ruddy great dark blue boat…


I sat. Boat floated. We eyeballed one another. We gave one another meaningful looks. The Cardinal looked at me, I looked at him. I was feeling chuffed for raising us some 30 metres up in altitude or thereabouts. The Cardinal just rubbed his bum where I’d scraped it on the flaming Shroppie Shelf lock landings when we first set off. How do you rub cream on a narrowboat’s bum?

Answers on a postcard, please.

So, almost through Audlem, just two more locks ahead, then a mile and there’s five more in a row, then a few miles and another five, and then a few miles after that we will, for the moment, be ahead of CaRT’s proposed winter stoppages schedule. This is which is what it is that I had had planned, so to spoke.

Now if you’ll please to excuse me, I need to murder some veggies (spuds, carrots, cabbage and broccoli), make a thick non-meaty gravy to lather them with, and sit in front of a nice, old, familiar, mindless DVD for an hour or two…


Ian H., and nb Cardinal Wolsey. 🙂


  1. Congrats on that amazing feat! And still so many to navigate. Well, it’s good to have such mountain behind you. It makes one more confident for the future mountains.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank’ee – and it do indeed. There is one “mountain” on this cruise that I shall be going under rather than over, a rather long canal tunnel… that should be a very interesting day! Tis a while ahead yet though. 😉


  2. Ooh eck! Just read your replies to Scottie re the etiquette of lock life. I’m a polite sort of person like yourself unless riled, but refuse to be dragged into inappropriate behaviour. Same with the rage that some folk get at supermarket cash out and thought of the dear elderly ‘befurred’ lady who began to load her shopping before I had most of mine out of my trolley. “Please would you mind?” I enquired politely pointing at the rest of my shopping, “I have all this yet.” “Huh!” she growled, “you shouldn’t have so much! Why don’t you put it at the front,” she pointed at where the cash lady was running my stuff through, now stack ing up in the out bit and yet to be bagged and leaving the conveyor belt at stop to give me the space and thus I imagine avoid an all out physical fight. My response is usually the same in such instances – I slow down and kept moving her shopping backwards each time I added something new but at a leisurely pace. Gets them every time. Was pleased to hear you could progress the water at increments, I presume slowing the process if need be. I hate people who think bullying is their right and elderly people (she laughs cynically here) who think they’ve earnt the right to be rude!
    Pleased you are making such good progress.

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    1. That is my tactic too when pushed at supermarket checkouts! On one lovely occasion I scooted the whole queue back two or three yards, explaining to them that I was going nowhere until they stopped breathing down my neck and over my groceries… they all complied without fuss. These days I am happy to give folks their space and time, but I do make sure to claim my own, too. 🙂


    1. Ah, now there’s a piece of string. 🙂 Some locks have three paddles and could be filled in a minute or two (75′ long(ish) x 7′ wide(ish) by 7′ deep(ish))… but you’d bounce your boat around so much that there wouldn’t be an unbroken pot anywhere aboard… I usually begin with just half a paddle, let the boat settle, open the rest incrementally and averaged something between ten and fifteen minutes for the whole manoeuvre (up to the lock, open the gates, move boat in, close gates, open paddles, fill, close all paddles, begin removing boat…) As with cars, it depends a lot on whether you own the boat and it’s your home, or whether it is a hired boat!

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      1. Sounds complicated for just one person. Do you ever get a situation where boats going in opposite directions both want the same lock at the same time? Do you run into jeers wanting you to do things fast than is good for your boat / home? Hugs

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        1. The custom is that the water level in the lock rules, whichever boat can use the lock without filling it or draining it gets to use it first. That way less water is used. Similarly at bridges, most of which are one boat-width wide, whichever is convincingly closest gets to use it first and the other boat waits. Of course, with some folks’ manners being the same on a boat as when they are driving a car… it can get confused.

          If anyone isn’t happy with the speed at which I am using the lock then they are offered the option of being quiet and waiting somewhere else until I’ve finished! 😉 My boat; my lock… That said, you can often tell who is going to be trouble, and if anyone looks impatient then I let them past (to get them out of the way).

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