Sunday, 15 September 2013

A long week

Sunday 8th September to Saturday 14th September 2013
a stutue commemorating the old horse-drawn boats of the canals

All of us had our own schedules that we needed to meet, but all of which meant travelling in the same direction and at least for the present time at about the same speed, save for Mike who had some friends coming to see him – and so it was that Ferndale and Mary H left the top of the Foxton Locks on Sunday morning heading south.

one of each flavour - dark, white and milk chocolate

their own boat to travel along in
the village of Husbands Bosworth

and the tunnel

Linda and Richard needing an Elsan station and as for us, well we really had no immediate needs of much consequence – we all agreed that we would travel the short distance of the Welford arm and allow Mary H to benefit from the services block at the end – all of us being able to partake in the lunchtime delights of The Wharf Inn.

The meals were all very good.

Diane, of course, needed her Sunday paper, so it was a short journey uphill to fetch it for her – why is it that these shops tend to have the serving counter right at the rear of the premises – I would imagine that there would be some who would see an opportunity to walk in and walk out with a bundle under their arms.

Later after everything had been attended to, we exited from the arm to moorings just around from the junction – complete with rings – and a very pleasant and quiet evening.

Without any locks for some miles, we just gently cruised along towards Crick. We had only ever been there by car.

We have to say that there are quite a few areas where either the width of the canal or the depth meant the power was eased off and the speed put to slow – fortunately we didn’t encounter too many boats going the other way.
such a cute fellow is Muffin

Good moorings at Crick, followed by a stroll up into Crick to the local co-op for just a couple of things.

Mike had left Foxton that morning after saying goodbye to his friends and “steamed” all of the way through (no locks helping of course) and arrived latish in the afternoon, so we were all back together.

Not too early the following morning we all headed off with the intention of getting to Braunston (at least) – firstly there was Crick Tunnel – no problems and then the Watford locks.

Linda and Richard were in the lead with Ferndale next and Isobel bringing up the rear – although we weren’t all immediately one after the other.

Just before the locks we spied a familiar boat moored up – nb Moon Shadow with Peter and Meagan – they had seen us coming so we were chatting a bit as we went by – when all of a sudden Ferndale was heading towards the side – she didn’t respond to the tiller – Diane had put it in neutral and so an unplanned mooring occurred and we had a longer chat.

Pretty soon Mike arrived – he had met them also up on the Erewash canal –so a slightly bigger group chatting away; luckily we spotted a message that came through from Linda – they were at the locks and had booked us in with the lockies to go down – who promptly informed other boaters who came in that the locks were closing for 3 hours – her message was telling us to get a move on – with that we were quickly away and waving goodbye to Peter and Meagan.

Fortunately the locks were less than half a mile away; Mike had moored up; Linda and Richard were just exiting the top lock; and we prepared ourselves to go in – in the course of which we passed two boats who had missed the bookings prior to the closure – but as it says, the boats go in order of booking.

By the time we were through the bottom lock there were about a dozen boats waiting there as well as at least 3 at the top – we heard later that the 3 hour delay turned into about 4-5 by the time people got through after reopening.

How lucky was that?

Meagan and Peter from nb Moon Shadow

Diane proving that she still knows how to do the locks

nb Isobel above in the previous lock - a
bit scary having her way up their looking down

I must remember not to wear that blue jumper when there are
CaRT volunteers - this lady came to me to book her boat in
for the trip up the locks - sorry that I had to disappoint her

a few lucky escapes here

just part of the queue for the bottom of the Watford locks - around the bend

Anyway we cruised the remaining couple of miles to the junction, rounded there and just before the tunnel we moored up for a bit of lunch and a break. With a tunnel, 6 locks and a few miles to go we would definitely be at Braunston for the evening.
Braunston tunnel

I cannot recall what was ahead but the look suggests a bit of
concern about it
Whilst going down the Braunston locks we passed the narrowboat Mickey Jay – Diane keen to ask had they had any improvement in their new composting toilet – we do think of the weirdest things to start a conversation.

Whilst we had been cruising for the last few days, Mike had been in contact with his ex, Stella, whom we knew very well and wanted to catch up with – she was at Braunston as well; so after completing the journey to there and with Linda and Richard fuelling up and deciding to go a few miles further along, we were all moored up and plans in hand to give a surprise visit to Stella at The Plough.

It is always so good to see old friends and she did get a bit of a surprise seeing us, but especially seeing Banjo to whom she was guilty of overindulging the treats with last year whilst we were cruising altogether.

A few drinks followed by a tour of her recently purchased boat and then dinner and we had enjoyed their company yet again – slightly different circumstances to previously but very good all the same.

We had agreed with Linda and Richard on a place to regroup in the morning and a time – although it later changed and we went through a bit early but we caught up to each other at Calcutt Locks.

Down those OK and then we hit the Stockton Locks – after the first one we tied the two boats together and Richard drove both boats into and out of the locks whilst the three of us with windlasses, prepared and worked him through. One going ahead to set the next lock and the other 2 doing the paddles and gates.

It went very well indeed and we were able to moor up at Long Itchington just on 2 o’clock and just before the rains came.

The Boat Inn, which is right on the canal, was where we met for some lunch and a few drinks and to chat with a couple of single-handers who were also a bit of a laugh.

our daughter is named Sam(antha) and of course the obligatory
Banjo photo

We had had a tough couple of days and an early night was in order for everyone – especially as we knew that Friday would be our last together, at least on this trip.

The weather over the last 4 or 5 days had not been what you would call especially great but hadn’t reached the really crap stage, but as though by a bit of magic it brightened up as the morning progressed and the afternoon saw a bit of the sun as we were going through Leamington Spa. We both moored at Tesco (bridge 46) for a few supplies (I declined the invitation to lug the trolley back to the boat in favour of getting some work done – good choice on my part) – we managed a bit of lunch as well.

With just a mile and a couple of locks to go to Warwick (our intended destination) for the night, it took no time at all – we both found moorings near the Cape – and later we wandered down to the Cape of Good Hope for a few drinks and meal to celebrate our time together and to say goodbye.

Linda and Richard, we will certainly catch up again sometime very soon and it has been a pleasure to meet you both and to enjoy your company for the time that we have had together.

Relatively early the next morning we set off to the bottom of the Hatton flight and hoping that we would pair up with another boat, to conquer this mountain of a flight.

Virtually no sooner had we turned the corner by the arm, than there was a boat leaving it to head our way.

Diane prepared the first lock and we entered it with nb Ursula (Bill and Christine) – whilst in the second lock Bill suggested to tie the two boats together and he would go ahead to prepare the next in the series of locks in the flight; so as we had done with Linda and Richard on the Stockton flight, we had one driver for two boats and three on the locks.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t driven two breasted boats before, but it was the constant starting from stop, lining up the lock, entering the lock, stopping both boats that was all new – and quite mentally draining.

We all got into a fairly good rhythm; boats were coming down at fairly regular intervals and we got through the flight in a touch over 3 hours – not that anything with cruising is really measured in speed terms (well really we do like to know how quickly we can do these types of flights).

up the Hatton flight - some of the locks didn't need too much
work with the paddles - they were filling by themselves

We moored at the top and filled with water; Bill and Christine also mooring up for a visit to the café – we joined them once the water tank was filled.

They own a one-sixth share in the boat and Bill has been boating for over 25 years – we have a fair way to go to match that – not sure we will make it.

After all of this chatting and not moving we all headed off again – for us we were mooring up about a half-mile from the junction – for Bill and Christine it was a bit closer to bridge 63.

The passing through Shrewley Tunnel was accomplished with Diane at the helm – we both believe that this is the first tunnel where she has steered the boat – and not even a hint of being near the side.

not that sort of Toe

The rain appeared not long after mooring up – ever thankful for a correct weather forecast.

Saturday : Objective no 1 – buying the Saturday paper for she who must be obeyed – with no local shop from which to make that purchase (and with a wind and rain forecast for Sunday) we left to make our way around the junction and up the Lapworth flight – back to single locks – the one problem that we ignored was the drizzling rain, which was coming down when we headed off – it would stop soon enough (we hoped).

It seems to be that the hoping the rain to stop side of things happens as soon as we become a bit wet under the coats that we have on; after the rain on the ground has found that hole in one of the boots you are wearing and the socks are soaked; and generally at the point you are too wet to go inside to get a cup of something hot whilst you are moving.

But all in all it was a pleasant day.

We managed to get a pumpout at Swallow Cruisers (at 12:15pm – they were due to close at 1pm – so maybe the start in the rain was meant to be to get the tank emptied).

Moored up by 1pm and off to visit the pub for lunch – as you do.

Not too far behind us were Bill and Christine – who were doing exactly the same thing – so we chatted some more – mainly about the different canals that we had visited – we were able to compare some notes on some of them but there is still many more for us to visit.

The evening was spent catching up on programs that we had recorded but not got around to seeing yet – we now have much more space on the USB to record some more programs.

61 Miles, 80 Locks, 4 Tunnels, 2 Lift Bridges 

Totals: 2123 Miles, 1590 Locks, 68 Tunnels, 31 Lift Bridges, 145 Swing Bridges


  1. mmm dark milk and white chocolate - now what does that remind me of Diane? Do you still have your dodgy Belgian Chocolates? xxxxx

  2. Hi Ray & Diane,
    We plan to be in Gas Street Basin in about a week. First we are likely to go up to Anglsey Basin followed by the Rushall Canal and then the Tame Valley Canal back to the Old Main Line.

    Tom & Jan