Wednesday 16 April 2003
We arrived at the boat around 2 this afternoon and moved down to the lock to load up, we then dropped through the lock to clear the lock moorings so that Diana and her mum could go shopping. I set to and carried out a few modifications to the diesel system. I connected the spill-line into the Cooker diesel day tank with a T so I could also pump it in, I found with the pump we used more diesel in a day than the pump put back, but there is more than sufficient diesel coming from the spill-rail and filters to keep it topped up. I had to replace a pair of copper washers on the top of one of the injectors which were leaking. I also made a divider to fit under the cross bed to separate the dogs at night; this worked well for the first night and then Rolo just bulldozed it away. Then I cleaned the cooker burner out which was a bit over due. I had almost finished when the ladies returned and we set off at about 5pm. We had a good run down the Napton flight with most of the locks in our favour. The tatty old boats are still moored on the visitor moorings and opposite the winding hole below the locks. As we passed Napton marina Michael and Angela were loading their boat also heading to Foxton. I saw my first pair of Swallows today, which was a bit disappointing because Nigel has been watching the nest for well over a week in Ambridge. The moorings outside the Napton Bridge pub were full with one boat right across the winding hole. We carried on to the Grand Union watching the sun set and the new moon rise to moor at about 8-30 for the night just through bridge 103
Thursday 17 April Napton to Yelverton
Set off at about 10am for Braunston. The first job was to fill with diesel from Ivor, today's price was 31p /lt. this was followed by a stop at the water point to fill the tank and then on to the Marina to empty the other tank.
The cut at Braunston was quite busy and as we approached the bottom lock there was a call of "Hi Brian" it was a gent on Narrowboat "Lincoln" who recognised me from my postings. We paired up with another boat and had an uneventful journey up the flight. This boat was so shiny I enquired if it was new or just repainted, the owner informed me that he had painted it last May and had used Leyland Paint, The finish was very impressive and a lot cheaper than the Narrowboat paints on the market. As we passed Welton Marina a boat was about to come out and had to wait for me, again another cry of "Hi Brian" this time it was Tony Brooks heading out for Easter, hopefully we will see him over the weekend. We were most surprised not to find a queue at Watford locks and Mick told Diana that we would be the last boat up before he brought the next lot down. The Crick tunnel was very wet at the Crick end. luckily a boater coming the other way warned me so I was able to put the brolly up. Just after the tunnel we saw Michael and Angela moored for the night, it seemed they had a bit of a wait to come up the flight. We carried on past the marina and winding hole, mooring just before bridge 18 and had a BBQ that's the third this year.
Friday 18 April Yelverton to Foxton Locks
We set off from Yelverton just before 10am. The morning was very bright but the wind had a bit of a chill to it. We carried on up the GU and turned right into the Welford arm mooring quite close to the end bow to bow with Michael and Angela on Laura. By now it was almost quarter to 2 and we went to the Welford Wharf for lunch which we thought was good value. As we left the Welford arm we came across Tony Brooks washing his boat down so we stopped for a few words before continuing on to Foxton Locks for the night. We moored at 7pm just through the bridge and walked down to the locks, moored just at the top was Jonathon on Osprey.
Saturday 19 April Foxton Top Lock to Market Harborough
They say a single Swallow doesn't make a summer, nether do a pair. We woke to a dull overcast day and as I write this at 6.30 pm it's just 6 deg. C outside. Just on 8 o'clock I walked the dogs down towards the top of the locks and the queue was not as long as I thought, one boat was all shut up and another was reversing back to turn round. I spoke to the man off the boat in front of us who had just had a word with the lock keeper; the three of us were cleared to carry on down the flight. The two new lock keepers seem well up to the job and had everyone moving smoothly, one coming up from the bottom and the 4 of us going gown from the top, passing in the centre pound. We cleared the bottom lock at 9 30 and turned down the Market Harborough arm and moored for breakfast. By now it was drizzling and 7 deg. C. Following a leisurely breakfast we headed for Market Harborough. At the swing bridge, which not only works very well but also has mooring bollards on the Offside for single-handed boaters, is a small plaque with the name of the waterway manager. If I were him I would be ashamed to let anyone know I was responsible for this length of canal. In places itís down to half its original width with reed growths and large rafts of floating reeds. At one point a tree on the offside had branches more than halfway across the cut in the water. There were places where trees are growing in the canal bed, as for the overall depth in places; well Iíll leave it to your imagination. This was the first time we had visited the terminus since the redevelopment had taken place and it looked much better than I expected. There is a very nice sanitary station with self-pump out, a disabled toilet, Ladies and Gents toilet and a large shower room. The only problem is that itís at least a quarter mile walk from the 48 hour moorings as you have to walk all the way round the basin. There are several water points as you approach the basin, unfortunately they are all on the 48 hour moorings and have boats moored there. Itís a shame they couldn't have one mooring for water point use. We moored for lunch on the end of these moorings and Diana walked into town to do some shopping. We left at about 4 pm. and moored opposite the end of Foxton Boat Services for the night.
Sunday 20 April Foxton Bottom Lock to Welford Junction
We woke a little late to a bit better day and I took the dogs for a walk, I then wandered down to see what was happening at the foot of the locks, nothing, not a boat in sight. I went back for breakfast and 4 boats came past to go up the flight. By the time we arrived we were number 5 and I was none too hopeful as I went to speak to Fernlee, the S African lock keeper and his dog Lou. "Just tag on the end mate" as he called Derrick, the lock keeper at the top to tell him there were now 5 coming up, We had just entered lock 2 when the owner of a Steve Hudson tug walked up to get the same ttreatment "Just tag on the end mate". I felt this treatment deserved a cup of tea for both keepers. We moored at the top and walked back to the museum as Diana's mother wanted to visit. As Diana passed the SH boat she called me to look, it was the other "Harnser" which has just been sold and was on her way to her new home at Tring. After a bit of lunch we moved off and stopped for diesel at Kilworth Wharf at 30p per lt. Better still they were selling Frogisland Bitter at £7.50 for a 4 pint take a way flagon, it went down well with dinner which we had onboard a couple of miles further along the cut just short of the Welford Arm.
Monday 21 April Welford Junction to Watford
Quite an uneventful day today, the weather was overcast and misty but brightened as time went on. We met Neil and Co on Ernest opposite Crick marina and the Glen with Mandy on Badger between the tunnel and Watford flight. We arrived at Watford just after 4 pm and we were 5th in the queue to go down, we cleared the flight at 5.35 and there were still 6 to go up, that made a total of 59 boat movements through the flight for the day. We filled the water tank at the bottom of the flight after hanging around on the offside for the boat behind to leave the lock and the boat waiting to go up to vacate the water point. We then carried on for another mile or so to moor for the night well clear of the A5, M1 and railway.
Tuesday 22 April Watford to Hillmorton
The weather was much better today and there was very little traffic coming down from Watford. We set off back towards Braunston. Diana decided that she wanted to drive through the tunnel. This was the first time she had ever driven through a tunnel in all the years we had been boating, but she did OK, we met about 4 boats with no problem at all. We arrived at the top lock just as a pair of boats were leaving so all was in our favour and we carried on down the flight meeting boats at 3 locks. We moored at the bottom of the flight just through the bridge and walked back to the Bottom Lock shop. When we returned to Harnser there was a boat mooring close to our bows, it was "Midnight Diamond" With Peter and Jill onboard. After a bit of shopping they were on their way to Foxton. As we didn't want to get back to Napton until Thursday morning we took a trip up the North Oxford. The moorings on the Oxford in Braunston were solid as were the ones below Hillmorton. At the Hillmorton moorings there was a chap in the water trying to clear his prop, he had already removed a tyre and was still beavering away when we left him. We moored for the night by the golf course between Hillmorton and Rugby.
Wednesday 23 April Hillmorton to Napton via Brownsover
We woke to a lovely sunny morning and several boats were on the move before we were up. We took the dogs up the path and on the way back at 9 35 AM I heard the cuckoo for the first time this year. After a leisurely breakfast we set off towards Brownsover. As we passed Cliffton Cruisers I noticed that the old channel of the canal has been piled where it joins the main canal and a road is being laid along from behind the boatyard. I don't know if this will be offline moorings for Cliffton Cruisers of just more moorings. Shortly after this a spotted a water rat swimming along by the bank, this was a rat and not a vole. We winded at Brownsover and headed back towards the GU. We struck lucky with boats coming the other way at Hillmorton. The Cast Iron gates from the top offside lock are still away for repair and BW have taken the opportunity to close and paint one of each of the other pairs. We stopped at the Royal Oak for lunch eating it in the garden. The food was good and came quickly but I didn't care for the Speckled Hen Bitter. What did take me back was the comment from the bar staff when I asked for a non-alcohol beer for Diana's Mother, "It's company policy not to sell itĒ. We had a pleasant run back to the GU at Braunston with Diana driving and then on to Napton Junction. Just pasted "The Bridge" 2 of the old boats that were moored in the Winding hole at the Folly moorings were tied up, I cant say moored as they had ropes across the towpath and round bushes. The Folly moorings were pretty full but by getting a boat to move back about 3 feet we were able to get in for the night. The next morning we filled the water tank and travelled up the locks, which were all in our favour, meeting several boats in the flight. We had just finished packing up the boat when the it started to rain which lead to a miserable journey along the M40 and back to Mother in Lawís