Entertained by owls and tricked by the weather,Trustee John Dodwell reflects on the last two days of his fulfilling winter cruise.
I'd thought it might freeze last night and so there'd be ice. I was wrong - heavy rain instead which continued into the morning with more forecast. Usually we cruise in some kind of circle and so winding holes are not a key part of our planning. This was different and we now faced the option of turning at Hinksford about a mile away or going onto near The Bratch - six locks away and then back.
It stopped raining and so I began with the intention of going to the further winding hole but then the rain came down heavy again and so I chickened out and turned at Hinksford. Of course, no sooner had we tied near Hinksford Bridge (conveniently near The Hinksford Arms) then the rain stopped for the rest of the day - Ah well....... That night we were entertained by local owls.
As we reckoned Hinksford winding hole needed dredging, I added that to my list to report. This is significant as a £1m dredging programme is planned this year covering the Staffs & Worcs from Baswich in the north to Falling Sands Lock in the south.
For those able to get to it, there's a consultation meeting on January 20 at 10am at The Bonded Warehouse in Stourbridge. If you want to attend, then can you email email@example.com so she has some ideas of the numbers coming? Or if you can't get there but want her to know where you think dredging is needed, then send her an email.
The imminent dredging around Colwich on the T&M is being done partly because of feedback from users so you can see such comments have an effect.
You can go on the Trust's website to see if dredging is planned in the next three years on your local canal. If it is and you want to draw attention to specific areas, then email both Victoria Taylor and the local waterways manager. If your waterway isn't on the list, then email the waterway manager as this helps him build up the case for action.
There was a heavy frost overnight, leaving mooring ropes very stiff - but little ice on the Canal. Richard steered all the way back to base, warmed by the back cabin fire - one of the advantages of a traditional stern.
At Gothersley we saw the odd sight of a paddle boater - standing up on a surfing
type board and using a long paddle. "You're a brave man", I told him. "Or a foolish one," he replied.
At Stourton Junction, we saw some anglers, well dressed up for the weather. After a little over 3 hours, we were back at base above Stourton Locks. We'd had a good and restful four days. Seen some old boating chums, seen the country in wintertime. Who knows? - we might do it again. But now my thoughts are turning to planning the summer's cruising
John Dodwell is one of our 10 volunteer trustees, who carry responsibility for the charity’s policies and strategies. He owns Helen, a 51ft old BCN tug/icebreaker which draws 3ft and is based near Stourbridge, West Midlands. His waterways interest goes back to the early 1960s.
John’s been involved in the waterways since the early 1960s and he enjoys all aspects of the waterways. To pick out one oddity, he was pleased and surprised to see about a dozen herons this June around the BCN Main Line, including two under the M6 motorway!See more blogs from John Dodwell