Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Short Trip through a Lot of Locks

Snow topped Ben Nevis as the backdrop for our lochs

[Kyle]Our morning started with steady rain that had been snow just a couple thousand feet higher, dashing Maryanne’s fantasies of going for a brisk morning run. We had a late parcel coming to Dunstaffnage that we eventually needed to retrieve, so we didn’t want to stray too far into the boonies from Fort William, where we figured it would be easier to get a bus. We decided to get Footprint to the top of Neptune’s Staircase just under a mile away.

From Corpach Basin, we went through the Corpach double lock and then had a quick motor to the two swing bridges that mark the beginning of the Neptune’s Staircase complex. Footprint was the only boat going through that morning. We had the whole place and all of the lock staff to ourselves and were able to get through the eight lock series in about an hour and a half. Britain’s longest set of locks is a bit of a tourist attraction and, even in the cold rain, there were a handful of onlookers on hand to watch us go through. Running engines in the locks is not permitted, so the boat is pulled from lock to lock by lines. For some reason, people seemed to get the most entertainment by watching me leaning into it as I strained to pull Footprint into the next lock.

As we slowly climbed the staircase, everything got better. The rain stopped and blue sky started peeking through. The incremental increase in height with each lift gave us longer and longer views of Loch Linnhe in the distance. The clouds cleared away from Ben Nevis to reveal a top capped with fresh snow. By the time we exited the last lock, the sun was shining brilliantly. Everybody was all smiles about the weather. Scots never take nice weather for granted. At the beginning of the morning, I had put on all of the layers I could and then covered them with new rain gear. All the strain of pulling Footprint and the new sunshine was making it quite clammy in there, indeed.

We tied up at the top and were pleased to find a wireless connection. Maryanne did some checking and found that we could rent a car from a place about a block away that would cost us less than the bus tickets to Dunstaffnage and would save us about six hours as well. They’re open seven days a week, but when Maryanne called the guy, he asked if we could wait a couple of hours because he’d been to a wedding the night before and was “just a wee bit hung over”. No problem, laddie.


Trotty said...

Hi guys. Lovely to hear of your adventures.
Sorry to have missed you in Oban. We arrived back while you were in the US and now you are moving eastwards away from us. Cirrus Cat is afloat, currently at Tobermory. We are moving slowly, trying to persuade the weather to get warmer, and likely to be sailing south when it does.
Keep on posting as we'll be following...

Anonymous said...

Beautiful writing. Beautiful photos. Beautiful country. Beautiful adventure, and two beautiful people.

Bob------- Nova Scotia