The Ship’s Boy was on breakfast duty this morning, so whilst he prepared his signature dish (Eggs Washington à la Harry), the Captain, the SSO, and I took a walk in the nearby nature reserve.
Not only did this give us a chance to stretch our legs, it also gave me a chance to fly our drone. I’m still getting to grips with how this little device works, so I appreciated the opportunity to practice.
You’ll know by now that we don’t hang around, when we’re on one of these canal adventures. So it’ll be no surprise to learn that we were eating breakfast at 7:00 and underway by 7:15.
What may surprise you, and certainly caught me off guard was that it was Pimm’s o’clock by 08:30!
Although to be fair, during that first hour of travelling we’d dealt with a long bout of torrential rain, followed by sun, then more heavy rain, the sun again. So it felt like we’d had a day’s worth of weather already.
The 2021 update to our continuing scientific research paper known simply as The Duck Study, began in earnest this morning. Having tried so many various items of food on ducks around the country to identify what they like to eat versus what they really don’t, we were scratching around for what to try next. The answer came when the Ship’s Boy confessed to burning one of the Eggs Washington muffins.
Yes. Yes, they do.
We spotted one of the 9 chalk White Horses, up on a distant hill. I’m not sure which one exactly (as there are several in the area), but it could’ve been the Cherhill White Horse. When we’re back on the mainland I will research it and report back.
Our main target for today was to get through the Caen Hill locks, and given how keen we were to get there, it wasn’t a surprise when Trevor and the Ship’s Boy were told off for speeding, by a very grumpy old man. Though, in their defence they weren’t going as fast as the boat passing the other way. The grumpy man didn’t say a word to the other boat, most probably because it didn’t have the words “hire boat” written on the side, unlike ours. Ah well.
Anyway, we made it to the top of the Caen Hill lock flight. 29 locks from start to finish, with a height difference of 237 feet from top to bottom, spread across about 2 miles. It’s one of the wonders of the inland waterways, and I’m pleased to report that we can now tick it off as done.
Shortly after we started our descent Trevor purchased everyone ice cream, including the SSO who lapped his up in no time.
The Captain drove most of the locks (though she would like me to point out that she did get off the boat and operate some of them), whilst the rest of the crew prepped and completed the locks. Having four people to operate the locks meant that the whole process was quite slick. We were only delayed in one lock, as we had to pass two boats heading in the opposite direction (they were heading up as we were going down).
It took about 3.5 hours (which is half the time the guide book suggests), and we were all tired but happy at the end.
We were also incredibly thankful that the rain, which had followed us around for most of the day, stayed away for the entire time we were passing through the locks.
The swans of Caen Hill were particularly troublesome today, either they were aggressively protecting their cygnets or they were doing their best to swim into the locks alongside the boat. Not very helpful, in either case.
After Caen Hill we passed through a few more locks, slightly more spread out this time. We ended up sharing 3 of these locks with another hire boat, who were finding their way to the pub.
Elaine expertly drove the boat, showing our temporary companions exactly how to do it.
The same couldn’t be said when it came to Trevor‘s next turn on the tiller, however.
There was a significant bump as Trevor steered the boat into the side of a disused bridge: “I didn’t see it” was his only defence.
The rain came back, and I drove us on whilst everyone else stayed inside and had showers. We were 9 bridges, or about 40 minutes, from our intended destination.
The rain eased up at around 3 bridges to go, and it actually turned into a pleasant, if a little chilly evening.
We passed beneath the final bridge and our mooring spot appeared, someone had even cut the grass on the towpath. Perfect.
There was just enough light left in the day for another drone flight, before settling down and calling it a night.