The other boat set off before us so we waited over an hour longer before setting off down the Thorpe Flight. The day soon perked up from the overcast start and there were still plenty of walkers and cyclists asking questions as we went down the locks. Every one had to be turned round so it was slower than coming up. Fred, the retired canal employee who we had met had told us that grey wagtails had nested in one of the gates for years but he hadn't seen them this year. On the way down we saw the adults feeding in one of the gates in the bottom gates of the top treble. They are such pretty birds.
Grey wagtail on Thorpe top treble locks.
Fred had told us about Graham who lived at a small holding at the top of the flight so it was nice to have a chat with him at a lower lock. He had found some photos of the locks in 1895 that a descendant of those that had lived there had sent him to see if they could identify the location. It was amazing to see that although the house had been demolished the canal and lock seemed to be just the same.
The Thorpe Locks have many by washes that are not hard engineered but are just a channel with plants growing up the side and a few stones in the bottom. They aren't really found anywhere else on the canal system.
By-wash running down into the pound between locks.
The sun over the weekend seems to have brought more of the leaves out and the green is vivid. The wild garlic is really getting into bloom and the smell is everywhere in this section.
Limehouse Lock in green. There were lime kilns in the area and the footings on the lock island may be the remains of a lime storage shed.
After the Thorpe flight we had a short interlude when we stopped for an ice cream just after the bottom double staircase locks. The ice cream was made by Traymer's of Nottingham and it was gorgeous. So nice we had two each instead of lunch, and they were very cheap too.
A very small shop with a very big tasting ice cream.
After a couple of ice creams and a cup of tea we set off again and the sun made it very pleasant. The locks are nicely spaced so that I could open one of the bottom paddles, walk to the next lock and fill it using both paddles and open the top gate so that by the time I walked back to the other lock it was just about empty and I could let Helen out to move into the now open lock.
The locks are quite easy to work. The paddles have ratchets on that you don't need to hold. One of time delays is that there are no walkways on the bottom gates so that you have to walk all round the lock, or step over the roof of the boat if it is there!
It was very pleasant just going down each lock slowly and with passing chat to the walkers. Those that come up the Chesterfield and get as far as Shireoaks and are put off by the number of locks to get to the locks are really missing one of the best lengths of canal that we have been on, especially on a day like today. I would make sure that I got extra crew rather than miss this.
Green and pleasant land.
On the way down we had run a load of washing so as soon as we turned in to Shireoaks basin we had the clothes line up and the washing pegged out. I then started to fill the water and wash off the mud from the side of the boat and the calling cards of some of the flying wildlife. I then dumped the rubbish and then put my feet up until tea. Helen excelled her self and to celebrate another great day we cracked a bottle of wine. To make things even better we got the washing in just before it started to drizzle!