Friday, 17 June 2011

Stockton

We waited for a boat to share Calcutt Locks and then later pulled in for lunch while they carried on. A couple of hours later we arrived at Stockton Locks which is the start of virgin territory for us.

Stockton Top Lock

We waited for a short while hoping to pair up again for the 8 locks but no-one came, so when a boat came up out of the first lock we set off down alone. At the second lock we could see down the flight and 3 locks down there was a pair of boats just going into the lock, coming up. One of their crew had seen us coming down yet she still emptied the 2 locks between us making us either wait 20 minutes or start refilling the locks again and waste the water, again. When they finally arrived up the lock it was obvious why they’d done what they had. They were travelling together, the women being a real sour faced pair and the men pretending to be “real” boatmen. You know the ones, fairly new boats with shiny put-put engines, overalls, flat caps, pony tails and the total effect spoiled when they open their mouths and speak with a “posh university” accent. One of the men couldn’t be bothered winding down the paddles so just got back on his boat and left it to me. We've found before that these types look down their noses at any boat that doesn't have vintage engine and seem to think they have priority at moorings and locks! I just keep my mouth shut and let them get on with it.

The lock ratchets are totally different to any we’ve come across before but the mechanisms themselves are fairly easy as they’re hydraulic. The gates are large, steel and quite heavy but I enjoyed the work.


looking back up the flight, lock bye-wash waterfall on the right

Just as we started down the last lock the heavens opened but luckily there’s a pub at the bottom and we moored right outside ready for a pint or two when it opens at 6.00.


According to the guide book, Stockton Locks are set in blue lias limestone in which the fossils of giant reptiles have been found.  No doubt that’s why the Blue Lias pub sign has a dinosaur on it.


There’s a caravan park and several fishing pools & a lake behind the pub and if it hadn’t been raining as much as it is, we might have walked round them. Maybe tomorrow, right now there’s a pint calling.


no sign of a frog prince

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