It was another bright but slightly misty morning when we woke up, and we were under way just a couple of minutes after 8am. We were soon at the top of the Watford Locks, and I went to find the lock keeper. Two boats were already on their way down the staircase, and he said we should follow.
At Watford there's a single lock at the top, a staircase of four, and two single locks at the bottom. It was 8.25 when the lock keeper wrote our name in his book, and 9.10 when we exited the bottom lock -- which means we did the seven locks pretty fast. We even caught up the boat in front.
It's a couple of miles between the locks and Norton Junction. In passing through the junction, we completed the Leicester Ring -- albeit in two very distinct halves. The first half, from Norton Junction to Fradley Junction via Braunston and Fazeley was Day 2 to Day 6 of the trip; the second half, from Fradley to Norton Junction began on Day 26.
We got to the top of Buckby Locks at 10am, where we were due to meet family. We thought we'd top up the water tank while waiting for them to arrive, but then we spotted a boat also heading for the locks so decided we'd go straight down, and have them as lock partners. I went to fill the top lock, which was empty, during which time my second-cousin, Catherine, her husband, Nigel, and their son Matthew, arrived; their daughter Grace is away for the weekend. It was really great to see them again; they're having a boating holiday themselves in the October half term, so we'll look forward to hearing how they get on.
We shared the locks with a Calcutt hire boat. Matthew wanted to ride on Briar Rose, but also helped with the lock work. We got into a good rhythm where the chap from the Calcutt boat would go ahead to set the next lock, while Catherine and I looked after the one the boats were in.
We got to the bottom in about an hour and half, which is pretty good going. There were plenty of boats coming up, and it was sunny and warm which helped everyone's mood.
We moored up at the bottom for tea, cake, and chat, during which time numerous boats arrived at the bottom of the locks, including our neighbour at Thrupp Wharf, as the boat is for sale and they were moving it up to ABNB. When Catherine and co were ready to go, I walked with them back to the road and went to the Canal Turn Farm Shop by the second lock up, to get some bacon and eggs for breakfast tomorrow.
We set off again at about 1pm, and had lunch on the move. Adrian started making a chili for dinner tonight. This section is so familiar that I didn't take even a single photo! We stopped to top up the diesel tank at Rugby Boats at Stowe Hill Wharf; they were having a busy day, as we had to wait for a boat to move off the wharf, and another was waiting when we'd finished.
We carried on for another couple of hours. One of the boats we passed was Watermark, which I happened to notice had the registration number one on from ours! We've moored up just before Bridge 46, where we have a great view of the Virgin and London Midland trains rushing by. We're trying not to think about it being our last night on board for this trip.
15 miles, 14 locks. (428 miles, 263 locks)