After a couple of easy days, we knew we had quite a lot to do today. Consequently, we were up early and set off at 7.30. It had rained in the night and was a bit murky when we set off, but it soon cheered up. As the commuters of Berkhamsted made their way to the station (3 trains an hour from £14 return), we slipped past the attractions of the town, and down the three locks.
Many of the next locks have to be left empty -- which meant that we had to fill them all. Lots also have very leaky gates, so that you wonder whether they'll ever reach a level. Then we started meeting boats coming the other way: at one lock there was Black Swan, and ex-OwnerShips boat which also moors at Brinklow; at another we met Black Bess, and we were both able to say that we read each others blogs. Along this stretch, the Winkwell Swing Bridge added a bit of excitement, and at the boat yard next door they were about to use a very large crane to lift a very small boat.
At Boxmoor Lock in Hemel Hempstead, we wondered if the lock was ever going to empty, thanks to the water weiring over the top gates.
Apsley I recognised, as I did a boat test there a couple of years ago, and we made good use of the modern footbridge as a backdrop. In fact, the wide beam boat that was the subject of the review was still moored outside the marina.
At Nash Mills, the paper mill has been replaced by a huge building site.
After the two Nash Mills Locks, we stopped for lunch. At King's Langley Lock, a boat was just going in, so we joined them. Andante turned out to be good lock partners, a retired couple who spend about six months a year on board. It's their first time down the southern GU too. We shared a couple of locks with them (including one where they waited while I went down the weed hatch to remove a length of rope from the prop shaft), then passed under the M25, which means London must be really close now.
At the nexy lock, a single boat was waiting, and our locking partners suggested that we go ahead as they have no schedule to keep. The boat turned out to be crewed by an elderly man who was on his own. I wish I could say that his boatmanship as a single hander was to be admired; unfortunately, I can't. We were somewhat relieved when he moored after Lady Capel's Lock, and we could wait for Andante again.
The section through The Grove is lovely, with fine bridges, views of the mansion, and a former water mill.
We continued through the Cassiobury Park Locks with Andante and moored above Iron Bridge Lock. It's felt like a long day. We've done 25 locks -- but they've felt like hard work mostly because they're all evenly spaced out, which means a lot of walking. 25 in a flight doesn't seem anything like such a chore. We needed to do more washing, but all the locks meant there was no opportunity to run the Travel Power; so once we were moored up, we changed the bed and put the washing machine on.
11 miles, 25 locks. (86 miles, 80 locks)