Sunday, 24 May 2009

Calf Heath to Dimmingsdale Lock

Calf Heath to Dimmingsdale Lock
24th May 2009

9 Miles
5 Locks
4 Hours

Nine times out of ten a bank holiday means rain. In stark contrast to last weekend's wintry weather, this bank holiday weekend offered the prospect of wall to wall sunshine on Saturday and Sunday, with a possibility of showers on Monday.

We had no particular plans to go boating, but as our commitments evaporated, we thought why not? So, after church on Sunday morning we chucked all our stuff onto the car and set out for a family boating trip down the Staff and Worcester.

The sun shone from a clear blue sky, turning us red and causing us to reach for the sunscreen for the first time this year. We were not alone, as the fishermen, cyclists and walkers were out in force, enjoying the weather. Whilst there were a lot of boats out from the marina, most seemed to have reached their various destinations and were tied up and just idling in the late afternoon warmth. We passed Dave and Pam, moored up in their favourite spot above Compton Lock, and then passed nb Eliza Rose near Wightwick lock, probably visiting Wightwick Manor, a National Trust property near the canal.

It was great to see such pleasure being taken from the canal, and possibly the most surreal was a couple sharing a champagne picnic, complete with mood music and a wicker basket, on the spit of land which extents into the lock pool above Wightwick Mill Lock. I don't know what they were celebrating, but it certainly looked memorable.

This stretch of the Staffs and Worsceser is very pretty, skirting Wombourne and Tettenall and features some unusual round weirs.

Our target was the offside mooring just above Dimmingsdale Lock. The absence of a winding hole meant a descent of the lock was necessary, turning where one of the Dimmingsdale Reservoirs feeds into the canal and then back up the lock.

We whiled away the dying rays of the day with a spot of fishing, but in spite of a couple of big bites, failed to catch anything. I took a stroll across to the reservoirs, over the gate marked Sankey Angling Club, No Trespassers (I am sure they don't mean me!) and had a look at the lower of the two lakes. It is clearly a well stocked fishery and the scene looked idyllic. There has been a lot of work done on the dam and its associated water spillway.

As we settled in to watch Memphis Belle (fitting given today's clear blue skies) when Eliza Rose puttered up and slipped into the mooring between us and the lock.

Not a long day, but bettered by few.

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