Having thoroughly researched it the day before we were well aware of what was waiting for us on our ascent up the Caen Hill Locks. A bloody hard day’s work! Still, the weather was lovely and the scenery is wonderful so all that effort did have its compensations.
This is what the 16 main locks in the flight look like from the bottom. Pretty but rather daunting.
Unfortunately there was no other boat going up so there was no-one to share the work but we soon got into a fairly smooth rhythm. When the lock below was filling I would nip up to the next lock and empty it, open the gates ready for Gordon to bring the boat in after he had opened the top gates of the lock below which I would go back and close. I then nipped back up to shut the gate of the lock above. There was a whole lot of nipping going on and it did prove a touch tiring. Still, there were orchids, amazing views and an unexpected meeting with an old school friend of Gordon’s to keep us amused along the way.
Half way up the flight I came across a boat flying a Cornish flag. A speedy bit of conversation established that he was a fisherman who had worked out of Newlyn. “Do you know Gordon Campbell?”, I asked. “I went to school with him” was his reply. He and Gordon had all of 30 seconds to catch up and exchange greetings in the pound between the locks. It’s a small world!
About six locks from the top a CRT volunteer put in an appearance. Apparently we were unlucky as they had been on their lunch break while we were working our way through the bottom part of the flight. Still, better late than never and she helped us through the following four locks.
We started out at 10am and managed to reach the top of the flight at 4.30 quite knackered! A visit to The Crown Inn beside the Wadworth Brewery for a restorative pint of Corvus Stout was definitely called for….