|This Month's Totals and Average|
|197.59 miles||180 locks||116.53 hrs||3.24 lmph|
Very pleasant run down past the meres around Harefield. Water a lot clearer than usual canal water, which may explain why this section of canal has dangerous animals lurking.
Moored up just before Denham Deep Lock for late lunch and decided to stay there for night. Another sunny day; looks like summer has come back again for a short while.
|4.91 miles||5 locks||2.82 hrs||3.52 lmph|
Once again a nice sunny start, but we were all slow to get moving. Stood chatting at the mooring for some time before getting on the move. Once going, moved up to the watering point above Cassio Bridge Lock 78 to find a boat that had passed us over 15 minutes previously, still on the mooring using a pressure washer. When we arrived, they then had the cheek to insist they filled their tank before relinquishing the single tap. Lost about 40 mins.
Once watered, we both dropped down through the lock and we said our farewells to "Serena". They had family joining them. Hope to catch up with them again on our return journey. We continued down through the next two locks and stopped for lunch. On resuming, we went down through Batchworth Lock 81 and managed to squeeze into the facilities berth at "Rickie" (Rickmansworth) for 5 minutes. After that, we moved round the corner to Tesco's - no berth available at their mooring so dropped a raiding party and "parked" the boat on the towpath side.
Had a good laugh with a moored boat about the discourtesy of a boat passing the mooring and not slowing down for manoeuvring boats (you have to laugh to keep your sanity!). Having recovered the raiding party, we continued round the corner and got a mooring for the night under the trees next to the picnic area by the lake. Day clouding over by mid-afternoon, with occasional showers.
|3.09 miles||4 locks||2.34 hrs||3.04 lmph|
Another brilliantly sunny morning. "Serena" and "Paws" ready to go just before 10:00 for the next leg. The stretch below Lady Capel's Lock is particularly nice where the canal winds through a golf course, with fancy bridges (particularly at Grove Bridge ). Stopped for lunch above Lock 78, with the intention of moving on for water then continuing for another hour. Didn't happen! Got together after lunch to discuss tactics but ended up chatting; decided to have tea/coffee aboard "Serena" and not move. By 16:00 nothing done, but great afternoon chatting over tea and putting the world to rights. Agreed to revisit plans tomorrow morning, and repaired to our own boats to prepare dinner.
|3.15 miles||6 locks||2.43 hrs||3.77 lmph|
Nice morning with a good forecast until late afternoon, then showers possible. Used facilities and popped to the shop again before leaving. "Serena" had slight technical problems on departure with high cooling water temperature, so we pulled up just after our first lock, but easily solved and away again quickly.
Stopped for lunch just by Home Park Bridge, then descended North Grove Lock 71 before mooring for the day. John & Judith from "Serena" came aboard for tea/coffee. Great few days running south with them. Hope to meet up again in the future.
|3.16 miles||7 locks||2.94 hrs||3.46 lmph|
Beautiful sunny morning. Took our time getting going. Moved up to water berth with "Serena", took water, then we both continued descent through Winkwell and Hemel Hempstead. Apart from one ill-mannered gentleman at a lock, it was a generally uneventful trip.
Stopped just below Winkwell Lock 61 for lunch, then continued again down through Boxmoor and Apsley Locks, mooring up just above Lock 66. Trip to Sainsbury's for provisions. (Sainsbury's is on the site of the old Dickinson Paper Mill, formerly a flour mill)
|4.33 miles||10 locks||4.44 hrs||3.23 lmph|
Up fairly prompt (nature calling!). Checked weather forecast again; rain then drizzle till about lunch then clearing. Decided to leave it until it started to clear.
Appeared to be clearing by mid-morning so got under way. Then it came on heavier!
Apart from the rain and a "bad road", a pleasant drop down through the north end of Berko (Berkhamsted). Stopped below "Gas 2" for a shop (to buy the bread for lunch!) then had (very late) lunch. Debated whether to continue or not.
Sky clearing a bit, and another boat heading south, so decided to continue. Descended the next three locks in company with "Serena" then we both stopped for the night.
|3.43 miles||10 locks||3.75 hrs||3.58 lmph|
Weather as per forecast; another wet English Bank Holiday (Scotland does not have a public holiday today and has lovely weather forecast!). Staying put!
"Vagabond" departed back north and we got some clearing and cleaning done. Heavy drizzle became moderate rain by mid-morning and continued most of the rest of the day.
(Heard from daughter that it had been raining in Kirkcaldy - poetic justice)
Another slow start (well, its Sunday morning!). Had a look at the weather forecast; rain for tomorrow; don't feel like getting wet. Had a look at the map again; no facilities on the Aylesbury Arm; don't want to get trapped with no loo. Changed plans, decided to go up the Arm on the way back, so continuing along Tring Summit. Moved along to the facilities berth at Marsworth Junction and did the necessaries; met up with "Vagabond" again so held back until they were ready and chummed them up the flight. Beautiful sunny day although cool.
On completing the flight, continued under the arch of trees of the Tring Cutting on the summit pound till we were just short of Cowroast, then moored up. "Vagabond" carried on to the winding hole, turned and joined us again at the mooring. They were heading back within the next couple of days. A big thank-you to Bob, Nicola and Bentley for the company over the past few days.
|4.39 miles||7 locks||2.91 hrs||3.91 lmph|
Slow start, cool and mostly cloudy, but cloud clearing quickly. Agreed with "Vagabond" when we were leaving so that we could accompany each other through the locks. They stopped at the top of Grove Lock for facilities (we waited for them), then we both continued the climb to Maffers (Marsworth). Steady climb up the eleven locks, with lunch on the move, but arriving just short of the junction by mid-afternoon. Clouding over again, with threatened rain. A very pleasant day with very pleasant company. ("Vagabond" continued when we stopped but we may see them tomorrow.)
|5.98 miles||11 locks||5.08 hrs||3.34 lmph|
On the move again today. Just getting ready when we saw another boat moving off. Got a move on in order to share the lock, but someone else (whom we couldn't see) had got there first so ended up doing Fenny Lock on our own. Intended to pull in immediately right for the facilities berth, but were beaten to it by another boat coming the other way. They said they could be an hour - we thought that was a long time to top up water, but decided not to wait and continued towards Leighton Buzzard. The cloudy start cleared during the morning, and it was a very pleasant run up through "Soulbury Three" to the mooring at Tesco where we stopped for lunch then stores (there is a special shoppers' mooring (2 hours only) right at the shop).
On returning from the shopping expedition, we moved round to the facilities berth (right under a bridge, on a bend; brilliant choice of spot!) before continuing the short distance to Grove Lock where we moored up for the night next to "Vagabond". There is an excellent pub, The Grove Lock , right at the lock. Didn't eat there tonight but have had excellent meals there in the past.
|9.05 miles||6 locks||4.91 hrs||3.07 lmph|
Took the train from Fenny Stratford station to Bletchley for a visit to Bletchley Park , the home of the Codebreakers from WW2. A fascinating insight into their origins and work during the war, and the technology advances they made to permit them to carry out the task. One can just walk round the grounds and Huts, but (human) guided tours of the museum are available as well as electronic audiovisual guides (these have video presentations as well as the usual audio commentary).
One of the Huts at Bletchley is now home to The National Museum of Computing . One word of warning, though; a separate entry fee is payable for this museum. If you wish to get more information about Colossus (possibly seeing it working), this is a necessity, but does also give a history of computing from the start made by the Codebreakers (a replica of the first true 'computer' can also be seen running).
Away promptly again, headed through Milton Keynes for Bletchley. "Vagabond", moored behind us overnight, was also leaving so we paired them down the lock. Stopped at Trevithik Court wharf for a visit to shops and "Vagabond" continued ahead. Resumed and had lunch on the move.
Very pleasant, if slow, run through Milton Keynes. A lot of on-line moorings requiring slower passage, but it was difficult to remember that we were passing through a large town due to the amount of parkland and woodland around the canalside. Moored up for the night just short of Fenny Stratford Lock. Went for a walk into town for the exercise.
|11.60 miles||1 locks||4.37 hrs||2.88 lmph|
Prompt departure from Stoke Bruerne to get down the locks before too many gongoozlers were out. At the first lock, we were asked if we were going down as there was another boat waiting at the second lock. They would wait for us and pair us down. It was an exceptionally pleasant trip through the locks with "Lyric", not dampened by the fiasco further down where a hire boat was asked by "Indefatigable" to leave gates open for them two locks down, when we were approaching the previous lock.
Stopped at the facilities at the bottom of the flight then moved on towards Cosgrove. Slow run as said hire boat from earlier was going very slow (they were first-timers, but so were we all at some point - no rush). Got a good mooring just opposite the The Barley Mow where we met Bill and Shirley for dinner. Fantastic company, great evening. They came back to "Paws" for a quick look round before heading home.
|6.66 miles||7 locks||4.10 hrs||3.33 lmph|
After a quick trip to the shop, we got away and headed through the Blisworth Tunnel . It was very wet in places but we had a clear run through with no boats coming the other direction. Moored up at the southern end and had a very pleasant chat with a couple out walking the towpath (hope their dog's routine health-check didn't reveal any problems).
After lunch, we visited the CRT Museum at the top lock. Stopped at the Cheese Boat on the way back (they sell Welsh cheeses and home-made chutney). Once back at the boat, we decided we didn't want to move again today. Had fun with our teddies waving to the trip-boat "Charlie" each time it went past, and with the "small people" passing with their parents.
|2.52 miles||0 locks||0.97 hrs||2.60 lmph|
Very lazy start to the day. Forecast rain hadn't yet arrived (it arrived about 09:30, and cleared by 10:30!). Set off about 11:00 headed for Blisworth. The first 45 mins were quite noisy as we were sandwiched between the main east coast railway line and the M1, but it eventually quietened down back to a pastoral landscape. Lunch on the move. The going was slow due long-term moorings along the line and slightly shallower water. It was generally busier than we have been used to further north, but only to be expected as this is the main route from London to the north.
Between Weedon and Nether Heyford, the avenue of trees had all but disappeared leaving a more open landscape and an increased wind. We were lucky and saw the Red Arrows passing overhead in transit between airshows; a lovely sight. We stopped momentarily at the facilities berth at Gayton Junction, where the wind was funnelling across onto the berth - a very difficult berthing and departure, then continued for Blisworth. We moored up just at the outskirts of the town, with shelter from the wind provided by the trees to the north, but with a SatTV signal to the southeast for the Prom jazz concert.
|11.70 miles||0 locks||4.36 hrs||2.68 lmph|
Day dawned sunny, with a forecast of cloudy spells. After routine duties, left the mooring headed for Norton Junction. Turned left (southwards) onto the Grand Union Canal. Met up with "Grumbleweed" and worked down the first lock with them. Arrived at the second and did a dirty dive into "Anchor Cottage Crafts" who have a good selection of canalware and other items. Bought a small stool in the same colour as "Paws" to use as a table. Another boat, "Fier", was also ready to go so we ended up partnering them for the remainder of the flight.
On clearing the bottom lock, we pulled over to the facilities berth at Whilton Marina for fuel, then crossed over to the towpath side and walked back for chandlery , and lunch at Lockgate Café . Skipper assisted a crew of first-timers who asked for help up the first two locks while admiral went to the 'farm shop' nearby. Cleared a few small jobs out of the way during the rest of the afternoon. A few clouds during the day, but no rain.
|3.70 miles||7 locks||2.93 hrs||3.66 lmph|
Another leisurely start; couldn't be bothered. Checked with Bill that Tuesday was all right to "visit", and set our plans for the next few days to suit that. Let go and headed for Crick.
About 30 mins after leaving, we noticed a boat rapidly catching up (we were doing 3+ mph). They eventually got so close it was obvious they thought we were going too slow. I pulled over to let them through but the steerer ended up grounding on the far bank and canting in to hit us amidships. He said it was "my bowthrust that caused it", and that "he hadn't touched me anyway". (Considering the missing paint and the noise of steel hitting steel, I think he may be wrong on that score!) They disappeared off into the distance.
We moored up at Crick for lunch (boats still passing too fast) then moved forward to the facilities berth. Unfortunately, there were two boats already on. One was just taking its time getting coffee and photographs before starting water, the other had taken water but remained on the berth for lunch at the café. We pulled onto the other side until one moved, then did the necessaries before continuing to Watford.
On arriving at the locks, we checked in with the 'lockie' to be told there were four coming up before we got down. Had a nice chat with other waiting crews. Asked to be remembered to 'Lockie' John (who we had seen at Audlem at the beginning of July (nb "Empire"). On reaching the bottom, we decided that the delay had put us behind plan so we would just moor at the bottom of the flight and catch up later.
One of those days where all the inconsiderate boaters happened to be in the same vicinity - oh well, that's life.
|9.82 miles||7 locks||4.69 hrs||3.59 lmph|
Had a leisurely start. The showers overnight continued after breakfast, through to lunchtime. No locks today so it was just the steerer getting wet! (the other member of the crew did the ironing)
Found a good mooring just before Bridge 32 and pulled in for lunch. Sun came out.
Consulted the maps after lunch and decided to just stay put. Clouded over by teatime, but no real showers to speak of.
|6.88 miles||0 locks||2.54 hrs||2.71 lmph|
Reversed back into the basin to avail ourselves of facilities before heading back towards Foxton. The mooring had been very busy last evening and more boats were coming in during the morning. We noted later that several others had also left today. Arrived at Foxton to be told there was a queue with a delay of about two hours, but we were first of the next batch up. Moored outside the "Bridge 61" pub to await passage.
Had just finished lunch when the owner of the tripboat "Vagabond II" told us to shift as he needed in. There were no notices to say this was a reserved mooring so reported the incident to CRT who advised that he had a mooring there but would investigate the lack of signage. We moved across to the official one-day mooring at the "Locks Inn" opposite. "Vagabond II" subsequently managed to hit us while moving onto 'his' berth.
After 2.5 hours, we were called to start the ascent of the flight. As usual, there was the plethora of gongoozlers, but we must thank two young ladies, Lucy and Ellie, for helping the Teddies up the flight . At the top, we treated them to ice-cream, and had some ourselves before continuing towards Watford Locks. We found a good mooring west of Sheepwash Bridge (47) with a TV signal (for Bake-Off) and stopped for the night.
|9.34 miles||10 locks||4.63 hrs||4.18 lmph|
Headed off after breakfast for the short run into Market Harborough. A quiet, lock-free section in a leafy corridor through the agricultural farmland. Winded at Union Wharf (named after the old Union Canal which had Market Harborough as its terminus) then moored up at the visitor moorings just outside the basin. Facilities are available in the basin, with plenty of waterpoints spread along the visitor moorings.
Took a walk down into the town for stores and to visit the "Kitchen Range Cookshop". The Cookshop has also opened a coffee shop opposite, where we had lunch. Stopped in the Italian Deli chatting for some time before returning to "Paws". Quiet afternoon.
|5.18 miles||0 locks||1.86 hrs||2.78 lmph|
Normal departure after using the facilities, and continued to climb through Kibworth. At the third lock, we noted that there was a boat a lock behind so we waited (to save water, and share the work). We partnered "Fanfare" from Rose Narrowboats, hired by a family from Austria, up the remainder of the locks to Saddington Tunnel. As we were stopping, and they were going on to Market Harborough, we let them go ahead. We decided that, since we had worked through the locks quicker than expected, we would continue to Foxton before stopping.
Had lunch on the move, and arrived at Foxton mid-afternoon. We turned onto the Market Harborough Arm, and moored up at the visitor moorings. Dinner at The Locks Inn .
|9.96 miles||12 locks||6.29 hrs||3.49 lmph|
Heavy rain overnight continued into the morning so decided to have a quiet (and dry) day not moving. Pottered around, generally doing very little. Rain eventually cleared mid-afternoon, but wind increasing.
Early start for the long run through Leicester as we had been warned not to stop in the centre due socially-challenged youth. Found we had a second unexpected guest aboard. Continued the climb up the Soar and onto the Leicester Section of the Grand Union. Once again we had a bad road (all locks against us); even when we had just passed a boat going the other way, the next lock was still against us - someone must be only a short distance ahead!
We had no problems, and there were no signs of anyone acting "suspiciously", except the kingfisher sitting on one of the brackets in a factory wall (a most unexpected find!). It was far better than we remembered from our holiday of 2000 . Arrived at the last lock for the day to see the boat in front pulling away; we had finally caught up just as we were finishing. Stopped at the facilities at Kilby Bridge, then moved across to the mooring opposite for the night. Decided we needed a pint and food so repaired to The Navigation .
|13.97 miles||17 locks||8.95 hrs||3.46 lmph|
Great night, very quiet moorings. Prompt start for trip up towards Leicester. Mostly cloudy, but with a few spells of sunshine. Once again no other boats going our way and most of the locks were against us, but the paddle gear was slightly better than up the Erewash. Got to Bridge 18 outside the Hope & Anchor pub and decided to moor up. Unfortunately, there were large chunks of rubble from the refurbishment of the towpath still lying in the water. We couldn't see them and ended up running over one, lifting the stern two inches out of the water. Left perched on the top, it took 20 mins of poles, engine, bowthrust and the help of a passing cyclist to get off again! Reported to CRT; hopefully they will at least mark it before someone else gets more stuck. Moved forward and tied up for the night before any of the forecast rain arrived. (It arrived mid-afternoon, with thunder!)
|9.58 miles||6 locks||4.68 hrs||3.33 lmph|
Had a look at the weather forecast and in view of the possibility of ex-hurricane Bertha giving us heavy rain and high winds on Sunday we decided to forego the visit into Nottingham and push on through the river section before any potential for flooding. We also hoped to stop off at Loughborough and visit the Great Central Railway.
Got away promptly after using the facilities, dropped back down Trent Lock and headed across to the entrance to the River Soar. Very helpful CRT staff eased our passage through the first lock, then we started the climb up to Loughborough. A very pleasant run through the wider and deeper river section allowed slightly better speed. Lunch on the move got us to Loughborough Basin for 14:20, but it is very small and had no free moorings. There wasn't even room to turn round so we reversed back to the junction and headed round the outskirts. There are good moorings just east of the junction, with an easy walk back and into town for shops, so we stopped there. Checked the train times for the Great Central for Friday only to find they were not open. Oh well; that will have to wait for another time.
|9.72 miles||8 locks||5.39 hrs||3.29 lmph|
Very heavy rain overnight, but only a few light showers during the day. Decided to have a lazy day doing very little - worked on an update of daughter's website, worked on a few website updates for ourselves, got some ironing done, adjusted mooring position to get TV for evening, got some pre-planning done for the next few days.
Actually managed the early start, and headed back south. Most of the locks were with us until lunchtime, with some having their top gates open. It felt as though we were going far faster than the trip north. We have noticed greater numbers of coots in this part of the world compared with what we are used to; not sure of the reason, but they seem to be doing well this year.
Stopped again at Padmore Moorings in Sandiacre for lunch and a quick run to the shop; and the rain came on! We were just getting ready to resume when we saw "Beech" coming round the corner (she had been moored up at the basin as well). We made a fast getaway and tailed them to the locks, accompanying them for the remaining three to Trent Lock where we both moored up. The rain had ceased again, but the forecast is for more overnight and most of tomorrow.
|11.14 miles||14 locks||7.83 hrs||3.21 lmph|
Long lie this morning.
Leisurely start, and moved the remaining short distance to the head of navigation, locking up into Great Northern Basin . A small basin, with facilities and shops very near, but with very few moorings. We were lucky and got the last one, used the facilities, then elected to stop over for the night (quiet day after yesterday). Chatted with John & Jane on "Ichthus". There is a bigger basin after passing the drydock, but we could not get through due to moored boats. The plan is to get away early tomorrow (we'll see).
|0.34 miles||1 locks||0.68 hrs||1.98 lmph|
Possibly dawdled a little too much (came back to haunt us later in the day), but got away after a lazy breakfast, heading northwards "into the unknown".
A lovely run out from Trent Lock and into Long Eaton. The water was clear with long weed at the sides, but it didn't impede passage. Everyone seemed to be pleased to see a boat on the move. Most of the old mills have been cleaned up and now have other uses whilst retaining their original architecture. The locks, however, were very difficult to work. The lack of usage has made them stiff. A gentleman was out his back gate as we passed and offered us some courgettes from his garden (for free, or at least the price was a chat!). We got assistance through a couple of the locks from a group of volunteers out picking litter with CRT staff. Very friendly and helpful. We stopped at Padmore Moorings in Sandiacre for stores and lunch. Excellent moorings on both sides, and shops within a couple of minutes.
Resuming after lunch, we continued north, hoping to get to the head of navigation for a late tea, but the locks continued very stiff and we fell further behind running into Ilkeston. Very friendly group at Gallows Inn Lock, chatted as we came up the lock. The scenery became less rural and the canal became a little dirtier, but nothing like other towns we've been through. We came across a group of kids swimming in Green's Lock, but they accepted that we had to go through and moved aside for us. The trainee driver took over at Stenson's (to get a rest from the heavy paddle-gear (and got mental exertion instead!)). At this stage we wondered whether to just stop, but still clung to the hope of getting to the basin, and continued.
By the time we reached Anchor Bridge (27) we had had enough and moored up at nearly eight o'clock. Nice mooring under the trees within a short hop of the basin in the morning. A very heavy day, but worth the trip for the different scenery and the friendly reception.
|10.71 miles||12 locks||9.48 hrs||2.40 lmph|
Fantastic night's sleep. We may have been next to a railway but there were only about three trains all night.
Got away promptly and continued our journey towards the end of the Trent & Mersey Canal. The 'L'-plates were put up as "Her Ladyship" decided that she had better get some steering practice in. At the first lock, "Matanouska" caught up and we continued in company. A "good road" for a change with us meeting boats coming up at each of the locks. On arriving at Sawley, we stopped for lunch at the "Plank & Leggit", before a quick walk through the chandlery at Sawley Marina.
When we resumed, we continued on through Sawley Locks and turned left onto the Erewash Canal; new territory for us. Having locked up through Trent Lock (with lots of gongoozlers watching our every move), we stopped for facilities at the old BW yard, intending to continue on for about another hour. We ended up chatting with the family from "Misty" who are in the process of buying a narrowboat, so decided to just move up to the visitor moorings above the lock. We hope they get their dream boat and enjoy the cut as much as we do.
|9.71 miles||8 locks||5.10 hrs||3.47 lmph|
Were awake early so got going. Bright but cloudy. Continued our drop down through Burton-Upon-Trent. Good moorings noted at Branston Water Park, and at Shobnall Fields just NE of Bridge 33. Nice to see the area clean and tidy, with the residents and council making it welcoming to visitors. Continued through and moored up in Willington for lunch.
With the weather initially getting hotter, we continued after lunch towards Stenson with the intention of stopping just below the lock. We arrived to find a queue, and an emergency stoppage . The contractors doing the dredging had overfilled one of their barges and it was stuck on the lower cill. After 2 hours of flushing, and pushing with their tug, it finally came free. Once we were on the move again, we found that there were no suitable moorings below the lock so we continued on.
Then the rain came down! It eventually cleared just as we found a mooring between the sections of overgrown bank and the sections of derelict bank. Nice little spot, though, just short of Lowes Bridge (15).
|13.57 miles||4 locks||6.08 hrs||2.89 lmph|