Thursday 19 May 2005
When we arrived at the moorings around 3-15 the canal was surprisingly quiet. On the strength of this we only took the boat keys and the dog down the moorings to the boat. We then let go and motored down into the top lock and unloaded the car into the boat. We had just finished when a boat came down from Marston Doles so we set off down the flight. At the next lock I couldn't remember whether I had locked the car so we moored and I walked back up the flight to check. By now there was a steady stream of boats coming down. I returned to Harnser and we set off. There was nothing coming up and all the locks were against us, with a boat in front and a boat following. At the bottom of the flight all the moorings by the Folly were full and we pressed on to The Bridge at Napton. Here there were a couple of spaces with mooring ring. Luxury, we moored for the night, took the dog out and had a glass of red wine. Shortly we will be going to The Napton Bridge to eat.
Fri 20 May
Well last night was everything we expected it to be. Good food, good service and a friendly atmosphere. They had two real ales on, a rather fruity bitter and a mild. I think I have only had mild once before but I found it quite pleasant.
We woke quite early this morning, but as it was raining we decided to stay put until things improved. We finally set off at 9-30 with a leisurely run into Braunston, I went into the Stop House to buy a new BW key to replace the one that went missing at Easter (see my trip report May 2005) and while I was there I made a point of filling in the visitors book to show the place is in fact being used.
As we walked back to the boat a Canaltime boat came along and the young lady hopped off to go ahead and set the lock. We decided that instead of stopping for lunch we would join them up the flight. They told me that this was their third narrowboat holiday with Canaltime and they loved it. They had to be back to Market Harborough for first thing Monday morning. Shortly after clearing the tunnel the skies opened and when we arrived at Buckby top lock we decided to moor up. We were quite prepared to call it a day but shortly after 3 the sun was out and we pushed on. The first two locks were in our favour but both of them had a BW work boat moored on the lock moorings. After the first two all the rest of the locks were against us until we met a pair in the second but last pound. We moored for the night in one of our favourite moorings a short way beyond Stow Hill opposite the CL caravan site.
Saturday 21 May
We waited until the rain had stopped at 9-30 before moving off, but we hadn't gone far before it started again and I put the mamby pamby steerer's shelter up. We stopped at Fred Tarry's at Nether Heyford to fill up with diesel at 41p per Lt. and pushed on. Between Gayton junction and Blisworth Tunnel BW are busy dredging the cut. There are notices telling you that you may be delayed for up to half an hour, but being Saturday there was no sign of any activity. All the spoil is being graded on the canal bank and then spread on adjacent fields. The tunnel at Blisworth was surprisingly dry, warm at the north end but cold at the south. This led to a fog cloud about half way through. As we left the tunnel it was chucking it down again so we pulled over for lunch. When things improved we pushed off for the locks, a boat had just come up and a Concoform boat was entering to go down. Talking to the couple on the hire boat I found out they were only out for the weekend, they had to be back first thing Monday and it cost £500 for the two days. It also turned out that the chap’s grandfather was a boatman and he had taken munitions to Weedon and some member of the family had married the daughter of the landlord at The Boat.
Just for a change we met a pair of boats in the first pound and they had left every gate open in the flight, it was truly heart warming, I normally follow people like this, so we had a very easy run. We said goodbye to our new friends and stopped for water. We will wave to them tomorrow as they head back to Weedon.
As the afternoon progressed it started to thunder so we pulled over and moored, I don't mind the rain but I wont stand on a boat in a thunderstorm if I can avoid it. From this point the weather was strange. We were in brilliant sunshine; it was poring with rain and thundering. I've never seen it like that before. When the weather improved we set off again in bright sunshine with a slight drizzle throwing up a full rainbow. We have moored for the night at Cosgrove. Just through the bridge, a few boats along, opposite the pub there is an Ownerships boat called "Solace" with the biggest TV aerial I have ever seen on a boat, it’s bigger than the one on our house.
Sunday 22 May
Again we waited until the rain stopped before setting off. We arrived at Cosgrove lock just as a boat was leaving. By the time they were out another boat was coming up and two Wyvern Hire boats had joined us above the locks. As they were travelling together, celebrating a 50 birthday we let them go ahead and lock down together. By now another boat had arrived at the top to join us going down. It was a brand new Liverpool Boat from Hanbury Wharf and the people were taking it home to their moorings on the River Wey. This entailed them buying a BW Explorer licence to get to Brentford, An Environment Agency licence for the Thames and a National Trust one for the Wey. They were considering one for the Basingstoke to have a look there as well.
Just before Great Linford we passed the working boat Ascot on the Black Horse moorings selling diesel for 39p per Lt, shame we filled up Friday. When we reached Great Linford we found there were 48 hour mooring spaces beside the park on the off side, this has always been full when we have passed this way before so we decided to stop. We walked through the park to the village pub, The Nags Head for Sunday lunch and a pint of Adnams bitter. As its such a pleasant mooring we have decided to stay here over night.
Monday 23 May
After bit of a slack day yesterday I thought we should get through a few more locks today. After a peaceful night on a very pleasant mooring at Great Linford last night we slipped away at 9-30 this morning. Overnight the glass had risen to 1005 and it looked as if it would be a nice day as we set off in the morning sun.
I read a stoppage notice yesterday advertising a two day stoppage while they put a new bridge in at Water Eaton. There was not much sign of the bridge when we passed and they were still concreting the footings, but then maybe I read the notice wrong.
We passed through Leighton Buzzard just as the first Wyvern hire boat was about to leave base, I think there were 19 there waiting to go and we had met a couple the day before. Some how we managed to pass Tescos without stopping, this is a first for us. Has anyone else managed it? As we passed a fellow Cutweber hailed me with a red Cutweb sticker in his window, unfortunately I didn't catch his name. Just beyond the bridge at Leighton Buzzard they are re surfacing the towpath with what looks like crushed concrete followed by tar spray and pea shingle. It wouldn't look out of place on my drive, I hate to think what it's costing, but it does mean the cyclists can go twice as fast. As we approached Grove lock a Wyvern boat was following us so we set the lock went in and waited for them. The young couple had hired from Wyvern before but it was mum and dads first trip. Dad was over the moon to spot a "Lobster" creep out of the cill as the lock filled. It was quite a large Crayfish. I showed them how easy it is for two boats to hover in the mouth of a lock for their crews to step aboard rather than going forward one at a time and pulling over to the tow path.
At the next lock they pulled in behind and put 4 fenders down, I asked if they were stopping for the night but they replied no the were going as far as possible in the 5 days, so I suggested that they should come into the lock in that case instead of tying up. After that lock I didn't see them again and we carried on alone.
There were three working boats moored at Pitsone by the railway bridge, Raymond and Corona but I didn't catch the name of the other. By now it was very overcast with black clouds and a few spots of rain and we could see heavy rain falling around us, so much for the rise in pressure. We passed a smart boat with no name on it but with a large German Shepherd on the back deck. As we passed Sue shouted a welcome to us, it was “Nackered Navvy” and said she would see us at Wendover. We moored for the night between Marsworth Lock No 38 and he junction at about quarter to eight, just before it started to rain.
Tuesday 24 May
As we were going to bed last night I noticed that the circulating pump was running but the radiator was cold. This pump is to sink excess heat from the hot water system when the stove is on. I checked all the obvious things, like squeezing the rubber hose to make sure there was no air in the line, topping up the header tank but it made no difference.
This morning I removed the pump and found that the magnetic drive had broken into 3 parts. We looked in The First Mates Guide that we had bought earlier this trip at Braunston and found there was a telephone box behind the cafe at Marsworth Bottom. We stopped to fill with water at the Marsworth BW yard and just as we were leaving Sue, Roger and dog on Nackered Navvy turned up. We carried on to Marsworth Bottom and I went to find the phone box. I didn't know this, but now a minimum call charge from a call box is 30p but for that you are connected for 15 minutes, which was long enough for me to ring ASAP and order a new pump. We finally set off up the locks at about 11 am. We were able to share the first lock but the people were mooring beside the reservoir for a couple of days. About 3 from the top we waited for a following boat to catch up and did the rest with them. As we had time in hand we decided to go down and see Julian and Caro. I also wanted to inspect the work on the barge and it does look good. We wandered round to see them and have a couple of glasses of wine and some feta cheese before wandering down to the pub to eat.
Wednesday 25 May
Julian gave a toot toot as he went to work, well someone has to do it, but it was some time before we were ready to go. We then had to go down the flight to wind and it was almost 12 o’clock before we were back where we started from.
As we filled the bottom lock we saw a boat coming round the bend. As he was single-handing we set the lock and waited for him by the swing bridge, we then kept each other company until he stopped just below Berkhamsted bottom and we stopped just above the top. He stopped for coffee and I was trying to find a free Wifi spot, hit 2 secure ones and one open, by the totem pole but that required me to register so it’s back to 9.6 on the mobile.
We moored outside Waitrose's and walked into town for a stroll up and down the high street before spending the rest of the afternoon in Waitrose. We left there with a boat we had seen below Winkwell, it was an elderly boat called Ellesmere in a private share scheme of 6 owners. They moored for the night about 4 locks above Berkhamsted but it was a bit exposed to the railway for us so we carried on until just below Cowroast where we have stopped at 7 pm. for a BBQ.
Thursday 26 May
We woke to a beautiful sunny morning, but by the time we set of at 10 o'clock it was a steady but warm drizzle, far too warm to put a coat on. It stayed like this until we were about half way along the Tring summit. When the rain stopped it was still overcast but warm, the sun finally poked through just as we pulled in to fill with water before going down the Wendover Arm. We had heard some horrendous tales about the congestion down the arm but it was very similar to last year and we are moored in almost the exact same spot just passed the sewer outfall. Thank goodness they don't smell these days. We winded in the feeder arm and collected our bag of goodies, which included a very good quality plaque. After mooring I set to erecting the bunting etc so we look festive. We then wandered up the arm to see who else we could find.
The first sight that greeted us was a full length working boat jammed at right angles across the cut and half its length up the feeder arm trying to wind. After a few minutes watching his unsafe actions we walked on passed Narrowboat Arun but no sign of life, then we came across Nackered Navvy with Sue and Roger so we stopped for coffee before returning to Harnser to eat. By now they had managed to turn the boat that was trying to wind in the feeder and was stuck across the cut as we walked up and she was now breasted against another boat pointing in the direction from which she had come.
Monday 30 May
Following a very successful festival we are now on our way home. We left the site at 1845 hrs. and just as I let the ropes go another boat also set off behind us so we worked through all the Marsworth locks together, We made good time with all the locks against us. Diana walked ahead setting the locks and the chap with us had his grandsons with him so they worked the lock we were in and closed up. We stopped at the junction to replenish our water stocks and then moored just before bridge 129
Tuesday 31 May
It was nice not to be woken by the dawn chorus at 5 this morning, as we have been every day while moored at Wendover.
Boats started passing a little after 8 but we didn't set off until 10 am sharing the first 2 locks with Tiara who moors at the Dunstable boat club. After that we were on our own for a bit until we caught up with another boat, Schisandra at Ivinghoe Top Lock No 33 who we shared with until we reached their home mooring at Leighton Lock No 27. At Leighton lock we shared with a Wyvern hire boat getting instruction at their first lock and we then moored at the Globe Lindslade around 4 pm. and booked a table for dinner.
Wednesday June 1
We had a good meal in the Globe last night and came out feeling rather full, the sound of the train was only just audible inside the boat but the dawn choirs had found us again so we were awake a little before 5-30 am.
We set off around 10 in warm sunny weather, by the time we had reached Soulbury Top Lock No 26 it had cooled down dramatically and I had to put the jumper on. It was here that we caught up with "Roman Lady" a boat that had moored outside the Globe last night so we were able to work down together. Coming up was a tug and an empty barge that are in use resurfacing the towpath. They had a crew of 3 with the pair and we had 3 lots of different instructions on what they wanted us to do, we ended up splitting to allow the tug with breasted barge pass between us. I stopped at Willowbridge to top up with diesel at 39p per Lt and the other boat stopped to get some bits from the chandlery. We continued together through Fenny Stratford Lock No 22 in slight drizzle. Just beyond the lock we spotted live aboard friends from Suffolk so we stopped for coffee, Roman Lady was mooring here for a few days so we were parting company anyway. After wishing our friends on "Dragon Lady" farewell we pushed on only to meet a boat in the next bridge hole, I sounded the horn but he was too far on by then to stop so we passed his bow to our stern in the bridge hole, but we got through OK without touching. By now the rain was getting heavier and for a short time I put the shelter up. We carried on until ten to five when we moored at Great Linford Manor for the night.
Thursday 2 June.
The first boat "Scyeffe" pronounced CF went past early, but not as early as the birds were about. The morning was cool with threats of rain. We set off just after 10. We had a good run to Cosgrove where we met the steam narrowboat "President" with her butty "Kildare" I'm glad we met them and were not following them, you couldn't describe their lock working as a well oiled and rehearsed operation, plus which they only make about 3 mph on the open cut. We had met lots of Wyvern boats on their way back to base; those on a short hire have to be back tomorrow. Once President was out of the way we locked up and trundled on our way. We decided to stop at Grafton Regis and walk up to have a look at the village doing a circular route along the main road and back to the boat. We continued on to the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne flight where we teamed up with a hire boat from Braunston. They had hired before several times and were a joy to work with, unfortunately there was a single boat going up in front of us with a crew of two who were a bit slower than us, so Diana worked ahead setting the locks for them to keep them going at a reasonable pace. At the top lock as we locked up we saw that Sue and Roger on "Durham Dawdler" were waiting to enter on their way to the Thames. We filled with water outside The Boat Inn and Diana nipped over to The Boat Museum and bought ice creams. We decided to moor for the night just short of Blisworth tunnel and pulled in in front of "Scyeffe". It turned out that she had been up at 5 this morning to be able to spend the afternoon in Stoke Bruerne. We had only just moored when I received a text asking where we would be tomorrow night and could they join us for a meal as it was my birthday, so we up untied and moved just north of Blisworth to make tomorrow a bit of an easier day.
Friday June 3 (My birthday)
Well the dawn chorus around here starts about 30 minutes earlier than at Wendover but they don't have so many members so to make up for it they employ a couple of professionals i.e. Cockerels from the local farm.
We set off a little after 9 am. there had been several boats passed by then. They were still dredging just beyond Gayton Junction and we were held up for several minutes whilst the dredger completed filling one of the pans before pushing it round to be emptied by a second digger on the bank. As you can see from the picture he didn't wait for it to come alongside the bank but reached out to empty it. Just after Stowe Hill we tagged on to the end of a 4-boat convoy that were moving at a steady but slow pace. As we approached Whilton the boat directly in front of us moored up which left us as number 4. Number 3 was the same boat that we had shared with yesterday but with a different driver. In front of them was "Scyeffe" single-handing and another Braunston hire boat. The chap who had been driving the boat we were sharing with yesterday accompanied the first pair of boats to try to keep them moving ahead. We met boats at most locks all the way up the flight, which saved a lot of gate closing, and a little opening. At the top of the flight the boat we were sharing with stopped for water and we continued on alone. As we approached the junction a boat from Crick turned towards Braunston in front of us and then proceeded very slowly so I soon caught them up and asked to pass. As I passed I could see the boat was called "Poppy" and had an umbrella holder on the hatch. Talking to the owners it was Jack and Shirley's old boat and they had bought it about three and a half years ago. We only met one boat in the tunnel and that was early on, but we caught a Stowe Hill boat up just before the exit, he moored just prior to Braunston top lock but left enough space for us to get in behind him "Scyeffe" was also mooring there for the night. By now it was about 4.30 pm and starting to rain steadily so I was pleased we didn't start the flight.
Saturday June 4
We had a very enjoyable meal last night in The Admiral Nelson at Braunston with Guy and Connie to celebrate my birthday.
We had a very late start today not getting away until 11 am. We were just about to cast off to go into the top lock when a boat called "Hatton" came down so we were able to share with them. Not only did we meet boats in most of the pounds but they were in the locks as well, so the journey was not fast but easy.
We called at Braunston Marina for a pump out and then stopped outside the Stop House for water. While we were there Peter and Mary came by from “Gillaroo” on their way to buy a new fender. Just after leaving the water point we passed "Sanity" busily cleaning brass. We continued on to the South Oxford canal and found the area of The Bridge pub very busy with the vintage engine rally on. Moored there were "Albion" and "Joanna" We arrived at Napton bottom lock just as the skies opened with a Black Prince hire boat in front of us and as they locked up a boat came down. As we travelled along the first pound "Scyeffe" was moored and she pulled out behind us to work her way up the flight. We met very few boats in the flight and the going was quite slow with "Scyeffe" catching us up. We moored for the night just below the top lock, Napton, as it's easier to unload the boat into the car.
My son and Daughter in Law came over to take us out for a meal and we went by car to The Wharf at Fenny. The food was quite good but the service left a lot to be desired and when we had to point out one of the sweets was incorrect, there was no apology or replacement sweet. This was not the only failing in the service. When the shortcomings were pointed out when we paid the bill the only recompense was not to be charged for the incorrect sweet, still no apology.