|This Month's Totals and Average|
|200.64 miles||160 locks||110.95 hrs||3.25 lmph|
Lovely warm morning, although threat of thick mist patches (which never came to anything). Certainly not what one would expect for the last day of September!
Under way promptly and headed for the top of the Atherstone Flight. Commenced the drop down to Tamworth. Descended the first 5 locks then moored to go into Atherstone town. Had lunch at "The Larder", a café having a 1940's theme with old documents and historical artifacts on the walls and tables, 1940's music, and austerity-style food (Spam, corned beef and Camp coffee are all on the menu). Most enjoyable, and very inexpensive.
After lunch, and a quick stop at the supermarket, we continued down the remainder of the flight. Moored at the facilities berth, then continued out to Polesworth to a mooring we've used before.
|5.86 miles||11 locks||4.53 hrs||3.72 lmph|
Slow start this morning. Lethargic mood, routine chores, and phone calls delayed departure, then moved to facilities as planned. Finally left Sutton's late morning, dropped down through the stop-lock and turned right at the junction onto the Coventry Canal, headed north.
Lunch on the move again as we wound our way through Bedworth and Nuneaton. Ended up behind a CRT dredging barge headed for the Hartshill Yard so had a slow run for about 45 mins. Once clear of Hartshill, we picked a mooring just past the winding hole (turning area) between bridges 33 and 34. Nice quiet evening.
|9.46 miles||1 locks||3.87 hrs||2.71 lmph|
Another great morning. Headed off for the Hillmorton Flight and descended quite quickly. There was repair work going on and the pairs of locks were limited to one of each. Didn't hold us up though. Continued on towards Rugby.
Stopped at the visitors' moorings for Tesco, then continued, with lunch on the move, for Hawkesbury Junction (Sutton's Stop). Met up with Mick & Crystal again - nice to have a quick chat (they used to be the lock-keepers at Foxton, and we helped Crystal back in 2000 when she broke her ankle).
Moored up just short of the facilities berth at Sutton's (we can avail ourselves in the morning).
|15.49 miles||3 locks||6.31 hrs||2.93 lmph|
A warm morning with no prospect of rain. Ascended the last of the Buckby flight onto the summit pound and headed for Braunston. Passed through the Braunston Tunnel in a convoy of three boats, but didn't meet anything coming the other way. The tunnel has a kink in it between 300m and 400m from the south portal where those digging from both ends didn't quite meet up! Descended the six locks of the Braunston Flight in company with "Bear Necessities". The pounds were very low, and we frequently grounded. Several boats coming up were not being too careful with water either; they didn't ensure no boats were coming down before emptying locks for their use. Stopped by the marina for a trip to shops in Braunston Village , and to have lunch.
On resuming, we continued to the Junction where we left the Grand Union (and wide locks) to head north on the Oxford Canal. Stopped for the night about 10 mins short of Hillmorton Locks.
|11.16 miles||7 locks||5.44 hrs||3.34 lmph|
An early start today, a lot warmer again but the wind stronger. Headed to Stowe Hill Wharf for fuel, then continued through Weedon Bec for Whilton. Stopped below the bottom lock to go to the farm shop, and had lunch at the "Lockgate Café".
Moved off again with another boat; first-timers who had just bought their boat. Accompanied them up the first six of the Buckby Flight then wished them the best as we stopped to visit "Anchor Cottage Crafts" again. Decided not to go on so stowed everything for the night.
|7.51 miles||6 locks||4.12 hrs||3.28 lmph|
On the go promptly, and moved up to the facilities berth with "Serena". Told that the pounds were empty in the flight and there would be a delay until refilled. After 1 hr lost, managed to get on the go, but only up two locks before we were held again as there was still not enough water in the long pound. Had lunch sitting in Lock 19. After a further 1.5 hrs, we finally got on through the remainder of the flight.
Said our goodbyes to John & Judith - hope to meet up again some time; great working with you. Continued into Blisworth Tunnel . Second time in a row, got a clear run through. Continued on with a view to getting as far as possible, but with a sensible stop time. Eventually called it a day after clearing Bugbrooke.
|9.02 miles||7 locks||4.67 hrs||3.43 lmph|
Headed off promptly this morning - had txt from "Serena" that they were just ahead of us and would look out. Met up with them at Giffard Park facilities so joined up and continued through Milton Keynes to Wolverton. Stopped at the moorings by the railway bridge for a trip to Tesco for shopping and lunch.
After lunch, continued out of Milton Keynes, back into the countryside. Ascended Cosgrove Lock 21 and continued to the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne flight where we moored for the night. Sat chatting until dinner was ready.
|17.04 miles||1 locks||6.23 hrs||2.90 lmph|
Another chilly morning, with sun rising over misty water. Swans silhouetted against the water, and the sky streaked with high cloud. Checked the water level in the bilge again; just a small amount. Ran our small pump to bring the level down again. Said our thanks once again to Don & Les, then moved off. Decided that Cosgrove was too far and resolved for Fenny Stratford. Dropped down the Soulbury Three assisting a crew of complete rookies, then down Stoke Hammond Lock with a hire boat. Assisted a boat aground in the approaches to Bletchley. Stopped at the facilities before Fenny Lock, then descended it as well, mooring for the night just below the lock (got it wrong for TV, a tree in the way at the only space available!).
|6.70 miles||5 locks||3.42 hrs||3.42 lmph|
Very cold morning (in comparison to the summer) - actually put the heating on for an hour. Got under way fairly promptly and steamed round to the services berth at Leighton Buzzard Bridge, then moved forward to the shopping berth for Tesco. On departure, we continued to Leighton Lock 27 where someone (Les) commented on the list we had and thought they may be able to help. We descended the lock and moored up beside "Gilly". Don (Les' other half) agreed that it was probably water in the bilge but we can't find the inspection hatch - phoned the builder. Eventually they replied and said that there should be an inspection hatch at the foot of the aft steps (none to be seen!) so they suggested boring a hole in the floor. This we did in a place obviously visible afterwards, and found the water. Don and Les allowed us to use their 'aquavax' to remove it and the list slowly went away. Our sincere thanks for the help, we couldn't have done it without you.
|2.50 miles||1 locks||1.36 hrs||2.31 lmph|
Back on the move again today. Weather brighter but colder. Wind risen slightly overnight. Started the long decent towards (eventually) Fenny Stratford. A generally uneventful day, and moored up below Grove Lock 28.
|5.95 miles||11 locks||4.94 hrs||3.43 lmph|
Long lie this morning. Thunderstorms overnight, and day dawned damp and misty. Decided to take a day off and chill out (it would also give Pat's pulled muscle an extra chance to recover).
Late departure while taking in the analysis of the Scottish referendum vote. Pat driving today to rest her back after pulling a muscle yesterday. L-plates out again, but the back is improving. Once on the move, ascended two locks and stopped off for the village shop at Wilstone - very friendly community shop run by volunteers. Clocked up our 500th lock since getting the boat, then climbed the remainder of the way back up to Maffers junction. Quick stop at the services berth, then moved round to the next lock before mooring for the day.
|2.22 miles||10 locks||2.75 hrs||4.44 lmph|
Another misty start, but burned off quickly to become a very hot day. Took it easy on getting up, planning if there was anything we wanted to do in Aylesbury. There were a couple, but not that we could do without better planning and more time available - we'll come back some other time. Got a call from daughter and boyfriend - they are getting engaged. Many congrats to them. Headed off and dropped through the remaining 6 locks to the basin - very nice, almost new, with work still going on. Plenty of visitor moorings with rings, new pontoons in the process of being created, and a new services berth in-build as well. Waitrose right on the doorstep.
Moored up for a wander round town (very pleasant, and clean) and a call for stores. Had lunch in town. Once back, departed for the climb back up the six, planning to stop again where we were last night. A couple of minor hiccups, but got moored up as planned.
|8.58 miles||12 locks||6.04 hrs||3.41 lmph|
Very light mist, but burning off quickly. Wind a little stronger. Very quiet night, so ready to go. Left the basin and headed back towards the main line. Water levels were down on an already shallow section so going was very slow.
Back at Marsworth Junction, we again turned left, back onto the main line, continuing north. Dropped down through the first seven of the "Maffers" flight, with the help of some CRT workforce trying to rectify the lack of water. Clearing Lock 39, we moored up for lunch at "Bluebells Tearoom". Excellent as always.
After lunch, we moved "Paws" up to the facilities berth before backing up to head onto the Aylesbury Arm . Onto narrow canal here so locks a lot easier to work, although you start with a staircase of two! From the dark background at the junction, you emerge immediately into open countryside, looking out over the fields. We quickly dropped down through the first 10 locks then moored up.
|4.13 miles||17 locks||5.11 hrs||4.13 lmph|
Slight mist, but lovely start to morning. Another kingfisher sighted in the low trees opposite. Took fuel from Jules' Fuels ("Towcester" & "Bideford") as they passed. Routine chores this morning, including 'piggy clean'.
Moved off after lunch headed northwest along Tring Summit. At Bulbourne junction, just past the old 'Waterways' yard , we turned left onto the Wendover Arm . Unfortunately, a fisherman did not get his gear out of the way and it wrapped around our prop. Fortunately, his mate offered to go down the weed-hatch and cut it all free. Once clear again, the Arm is a very pleasant run from the junction to the current head of navigation - somewhat shallow most of the way, but a beautiful rural landscape (with the possible exception of Heygates Flour Mill). Well worth the slow daunder. Winded at the large winding hole (saw yet another kingfisher, fishing from the bank), and moored at the designated visitor moorings. Very peaceful night.
|4.30 miles||0 locks||1.93 hrs||2.23 lmph|
Damp morning (not sure if it was low cloud, mist or very light drizzle - but it was damp!) but made an early start (to make up for the early finish yesterday). Continued the last leg up the hill towards the Tring Summit. Fairly easy going as some of the locks require to be left empty. This means they will be ready for us, and only require a bottom paddle to be drawn on departure (you don't need to wait for it to fill). Although we were on our own all day, it didn't seem as heavy work. The dampness slowly cleared to just cloudy. Stopped at the visitor moorings below "Gas 2" for lunch and Waitrose (they have the best spinach packs - very roughly cut, and unwashed - just how missy likes it!).
Continued up the remainder of the locks, again some must be left empty, and we met other boats coming down. Several squiggles seen around a few of the locks. Arrived at the summit to find it very busy. A boat coming off the water-point headed west, a boat coming east, and our boat, took the last three spaces between the lock and Bridge 136. The cloud had become patchy over the afternoon, leaving a pleasant evening.
|6.57 miles||18 locks||6.86 hrs||3.58 lmph|
Continued the climb again this morning. Came up the last three locks before Apsley with "Moon on a Stick", then both stopped at Sainsbury's for stores.
After lunch, went up through Apsley Lock 66 and stopped at the facilities berth before continuing up a further two locks. Intelligence suggested that mooring may be difficult over the next stretch so moored up early.
|3.69 miles||8 locks||3.62 hrs||3.23 lmph|
Despite not wanting to get up (no particular reason), we got on the move fairly promptly. Climbed up the locks through Rickmansworth and Croxley Green, then stopped for lunch on the west side of Watford, above Iron Bridge Lock 77. Had a laugh with "Islonian" as she passed - we both said to each other at the same time "I've seen you on the GPS". We both use the same tracker software.
After lunch continued through Cassio Park and up through the locks to the west of Abbots Langley. Having gone under the M25 (just at junction 20), we stopped for the night below Home Park Mill Lock 70.
|3.69 miles||8 locks||3.62 hrs||3.23 lmph|
On the road promptly this morning. Started up the hill from Cowley. Stopped above Cowley Lock 89 for facilities then continued.
Lunch on the move between locks 87 and 86. Saw another kingfisher today. A lot of dragonflies and damselflies around as well.
Stopped for night above Stockers Lock 82 alongside the Stockers Lake wildlife reserve. Watched a squiggle burying nuts at the side of the towpath. The boat acts as a very good 'hide' for watching wildlife through the windows.
|8.50 miles||8 locks||5.01 hrs||3.30 lmph|
Got under way quickly this morning and headed up the Slough Arm again to Iver to get the engine serviced. Our morning made by sighting of kingfisher. The yard were very thorough, doing other inspections that were not on the Barrus checklist, but which highlighted a few problems that we'll have to take up with Top Notch.
Left Iver mid-afternoon, turned at the second winding hole, and returned to Cowley Peachey. Time starting to get on so decided to stop there and walk back to Tesco's for the small amount of stores needed (rather than keep going north and have a late finish). Even better day, a second kingfisher sighting!
Summer definitely on the wane - noted a form of ivy was changing from green to a stunning shade of red, and some of the ferns are starting to yellow. Oh well, its been a good summer.
|7.07 miles||0 locks||2.79 hrs||2.54 lmph|
Well, 10:30 came and went! The engineer turned up at 11:30 with the news that he hadn't been able to locate an oil filter, but would continue trying. We said we would move to Cowley Peachey for tonight (and on to Iver if necessary if he got a filter), and got under way after lunch.
Leisurely run to Bull's Bridge and north again to Cowley Peachey. No word by arrival so moored up for night.
Phonecall at 16:30 - they've located the part and will do the job tomorrow. We've agreed to head up to Iver to save them travel time.
|7.54 miles||0 locks||2.31 hrs||3.27 lmph|
Difficult to get going after the late night, but eventually on the way. Goodbye to London for this time, headed back to base. Left the basin and stopped off at the facilities berth and office at Little Venice, then moved on to Kensal Green for stores at Sainsbury's.
Lunch on the move and headed out of town towards Bull's Bridge, with the intention of going to Cowley Peachey overnight and getting an engine service at Uxbridge Boat Centre tomorrow. Rang them but they couldn't do the job. Decided to stop at High Line Yachting at Northolt to see if they could, or if their Cowley Peachey branch could do tomorrow. They said they could do it at Northolt 10:30 tomorrow, and we could moor at their berth overnight - done! A generally uneventful day, with only one exception - a boat which discourteously decided to wind immediately in front of us, then immediately pulled in to the side to moor at a pub; another minute to let us past and he could have had all the time in the world to do his manoeuvres (but it takes all sorts!...). A beautifully quiet, fresh evening, with a full moon rising just before bedtime.
Another hot day throughout - how long will it last? .....and will we suffer this winter?
|9.50 miles||0 locks||3.54 hrs||2.68 lmph|
Walked round to the facilities with the loo cassette, while Pat did a small batch of shopping for tonight. Headed off out again, to visit "HQS Wellington" (owned by the Wellington Trust and affiliated to the National Museum of the Royal Navy as a heritage ship, she is also the headquarters of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners). They had an exhibition about hospital ships during World War I. Exceptionally interesting, but only open Sundays and Mondays until December 2014, and again March to May 2015.
Found some lunch, then visited the memorial at Green Park to Bomber Command during World War II. Headed back to prepare for David and Betty coming in the evening.
Hilarious night, and late to bed. Thanks for a great time.
The main reason for us being in London this weekend - the annual national Remembrance Parade for the Merchant Navy, at the memorial at Tower Hill . Form up for 12:30; service at 13:00. Met up with Pat's cousin Freddie at the memorial; went for lunch with him afterwards. Returned to "Paws" for a look round; quiet evening chatting. Hope to see you again soon, possibly for a trip out....?
Another slow start, but back on the tourist trail, took the tube round to Aldgate to go to Leadenhall Market. Very disappointed - architecture great, but the shops were all up-market rather than market-stalls, and they were all closed anyway (on a Saturday?)
Walked across London Bridge to the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret . A small but fascinating museum showing operating techniques and an apothecary dating back to 1700.
Headed back to "Paws" for late lunch, then a little shopping and baking in the afternoon.
Very slow start today, but eventually took the tube to London Bridge to visit HMS Belfast . Absolutely fascinating (particularly for an ex-merchant seafarer). Well worth the visit. On-board café wasn't open so lunched at the entrance café and returned aboard to finish the visit.
When we were finally finished, we headed the short distance past the Golden Hinde sailing ship to The Clink Museum .
Early start - moved back one berth to the facilities. Had a chat with Sam Thomas (CRT London Area Manager?) who introduced himself while we were watering. Useful discussion - he was ready to listen to both good and bad. Got away and headed back up the bottom two locks, the Hanwell Flight and Norwood Top Lock, before continuing to Bull's Bridge. Generally uneventful trip. Lunch on the move.
At Bull's Bridge, we turned right onto the Paddington Arm and the lock-free 13.5 mile run in to Paddington Basin. We topped up again with water at Little Venice before heading into the Basin. We found the basin very busy indeed, but managed to breast up to another boat on the St Mary's Hospital section. Should be a quiet night - we'll look again in the morning.
|18.39 miles||10 locks||9.11 hrs||3.12 lmph|
The national day of remembrance for merchant seafarers who, in the course of their trade, lost their lives as a result of armed conflict. During WW1 and WW2, British Merchant Fleets lost 52,000 men, women and boys to the sea, and that is their only grave. September 3rd was chosen as the memorial day for two reasons -
1. it was the day WW2 was declared,
2. SS Athena was sunk by a German submarine on the first day of war, with the loss of 117 civilian crew and passengers - the first merchant ship sunk in the war.
Headed into town today for a walk round shops. Took the bus (237 or 267) to Gunnersbury Station, then the tube to High Street Kensington to seek out a recommended food shop, The Whole Foods Market . Fantastic stock of everyday, indulgent, and ethnic foodstuffs. They have other branches.
Decided on eating place for lunch and took the tube to Baker Street then walked round to Moxon Street to La Fromagerie . Apart from their 'standard' menu, they do taster-platters from each of three countries. Each platter has five cheeses, with biscuits and fruit, and also a recommendation of a wine or beer to complement it.
A walk back down Oxford Street and Regent Street (with the obligatory visit to Hamleys) brought us back to Piccadilly Circus for the tube/bus journey back to "Paws". A tiring day, but gave us some exercise and we found a new food shop (thanks Judith).
For those looking for other things to go to based around Brentford, the above buses also stop at Kew Bridge, giving access to The Musical Museum (self-playing musical instruments), and London Museum of Water and Steam (steam-powered water and sewage pumping engines). We did not go this time, but have been to both in the past and enjoyed the visits.
Moved off the berth at 09:00 to go the short distance to High Line's Quay. Took fuel (considerably more expensive than at base; 95p instead of 79p), then winded and set off once again for Brentford. A lock-free couple of hours on the run past Bull's Bridge junction (a major mooring point for the working boats while they awaited orders) and down to Hanwell. Police discreetly evident as a result of the Alice Gross murder.
Stopped after the first lock for a bite of lunch then attacked the main 6 locks of the flight. The first 3 of these pass the site of the old Hanwell Asylum .
Clearing the flight, we continued towards Brentford with two further locks to descend. After Hanwell, the water gets murkier and the whole feel is more run-down. On approaching Brentford, we noted the new buildings from last time we were here, and that there were far more boats moored - a lot look as though they have not moved for some time. The visitors' moorings were full of similar boats and we had to breast-up to get a berth. It is such a shame when people overstay their welcome. We hope the same has not happened in Paddington.
|9.31 miles||10 locks||5.66 hrs||3.41 lmph|
Beautiful morning at 05:30. Cloudy by breakfast. Drizzle by departure. --- and it got worse!
Despite the rain, a good run down through Denham Deep and Uxbridge Locks with the intention of taking fuel at Uxbridge Boat Centre. Found they are closed on Mondays. Continued to Cowley Lock where we made use of the facilities before dropping down with the aid of two CRT volunteer staff. They suggested High Line Yachting just before the junction; also found to be closed on Mondays. Turned right up the Slough Arm for their other suggestion; yet again found to be closed on Mondays. Don't run short of fuel on Mondays!
Had lunch on the move whilst trying to protect it from the rain showers (it was alternating between rain, drizzle and just damp!), and decided to go to the end of the Arm before turning back. Recently dredged, it was a very pleasant run from junction to terminus and back, although the towpath bank is in need of a haircut in places. On returning to Cowley Peachey Junction, we turned back north and moored at High Line ready for fuelling tomorrow.
|13.47 miles||3 locks||5.61 hrs||2.93 lmph|