Langley Mill to Trent Lock 12 miles, 15 locks and 2 canals.
Dylan was due on the 7th September and arrived on the 7th, at 1.39pm weighing in at a respectable 7lb 6oz. Mother and baby doing fine. They were in and out on the same day, wonderful.
In the couple of days from our arrival to his birth we kept ourselves busy, when the 3 other boats left the basin we moved across and into the sunshine, much better for keeping our batteries topped up.
We heard that the Cromford Canal Society were working on the bit of the canal just past the end of the boatyard, so we took a walk to see what was occurring. On this stretch there will be 2 new locks which will take the canal up and over a culvert, and then under the A610 towards Ironville. It is the start of trying to connect the two ends of Cromford canal to each other, but they have many obstacles ahead.
The first being the Butterley tunnel, which used to take the canal under Butterley reservoir and into the Butterley iron works. Then it is on towards another, the Bull Bridge Viaduct at Ambergate.
We chattered to the volunteers working there and they were happy to explain what they had done, and were doing. It was really interesting, but I doubt I will see the project completed in my boating lifetime.
It was a lovely day so we headed of to the pub, The Great Northern. The Captain was very happy as they had Gorilla Stout by Blue Monkey brewery on, and we were joined by a couple of the volunteers, so our chat continued, and the same next day.
Over these couple of days the news from CRT about water levels got no better, but on the 7th they said things were looking up, so our plan was to see Dylan, Adam and Julie over the weekend (letting Mum and baby have some quiet time together first) and then head off either Monday or Tuesday. We also had my sisters party to attend on the Saturday.
Things of course didn’t go to plan. The news from CRT next day was that, once again blaming ‘vandalism’, the water had dropped and the canal remained shut.
On the upside Adam invited us to visit Dylan that day and came and picked us up. We had offered to get the bus as far as Clay Cross, which is only a couple of miles from were he lives, but he insisted, so we spent a wonderful afternoon with them. Julie is a great Mum, and Dylan is just perfect. He stayed fast a sleep in my arms the whole of the time we were there. I know I am gushing, and its not really a boaty story, but you will have to forgive me.
So we were stuck in the basin, the weekend came and went, the party was fun, and Sunday was quiet, but the update on Monday didn’t make happy reading, the canal remained closed. Although CRT did say there had been significant improvement of water levels, and were optimistic the canal would open next day. However it was not to be, and the next update said water levels had fallen and for once they didn’t blame vandalism, but said they would be ‘undertaking remedial work’, whatever that meant.
So we were stuck for another day, one good thing, it meant we could catch up with our friends Chris and Sue. They came up to Langley Mill for a few pints, a curry at the Royal Ghurka, and a reet good chin wag.
The food was excellent but the service a little strange, but it didn’t matter, we had a great time.
We had hoped the canal would reopen next day and got up early (9am) to do some final bits of shopping, but again the news wasn’t good, so we are stuck for another day.
I know in one of my earlier blogs I was accused of CRT bashing, after I questioned if they knew what they were doing in relation to structural breakdowns, which seem so much more prevalent this year. They seemed to have moved away from pro-active maintenance to reactive. So things are only being repaired when they break, rather than being checked and maintained to ensure the canals stay open. The Captain has a notification app on his phone, which alerts him to stoppages on the canals for what ever reason, and it has been going off continually this summer. And one of the main reason CRT gives when something breaks is ‘Vandalism’. Now I know on some occasions this will be the case, but CRT seem to be using it as their go to excuse, rather than admitting that their lack of maintenance is to blame. I have, in the past, done my best to support CRT, but I am getting to the end of my tether, and I am starting to question if they have their priorities right, as money seems to being spent on everything apart from properly maintaining the canals. As proof of this I have a few examples of what I consider to be a waste of money. Firstly, unnecessary consultations to fix things that aren’t broken, ie the mooring time limits in Birmingham, or the way they calculate how much we pay for our license, the second such consultation for this in a couple of years. 3 CRT employees painting lines in a car park that is hardly used, 2 were waiting for the 3rd to bring the paint, and then it took all 3 of them to paint half a dozen white lines, and a few yellow lines to identify the parking bays. Finally the number of directors on over £100,000 a year, (12), 2 of whom were appointed this year. CRT is meant to be a charity, so money should be spent more wisely in my opinion.
Right back to our journey. The next day we were hoping for an early update, but of course we didn’t receive anything until mid afternoon, the good news was they were reopening the canal, but only between 9am and 4pm for the next 3 weeks, so this meant it was too late for us to get past the affected lock that day, but the Captain took the decision to get as far as the Gallows in Ilkeston, and continue our journey to Trent Lock the next day. There was plenty of water on both days, and we met a number of boats travelling up the canal who had been stuck for nearly 2 weeks waiting to return to their home moorings in the basin. Everyone was in high spirits and happy to be on the move again.
We got to Trent Lock without any issues, but harping back to my rant, I have been doing this stretch of canal every year for the last 9, and the lack of maintenance on the locks is starting to show badly. Extremely stiff paddles, and heavy gates that simply don’t want to move, due I believe, to the amount of weed in the canal and a build up of silt in the locks, and I will say it again, the lack of pro-active maintenance.
A couple of pints in the Steam Boat of course, and we saw 2 beautiful kingfishers on our way down which helped brighten the day.
Homeward bound now, but that’s for the next instalment.