Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Spring cruise - Day 5

We had a bit of excitement last night.  It was pouring with rain about 8 o'clock when Adrian looked out of the front of the boat -- to see the widebeam moored ahead of us across the canal.  The stern was on the towpath, and the bow on the far side.  We put on shoes and waterproofs so we could go and rescue it, when I noticed that there appeared to be lights on inside, and smoke coming from the chimney.  I knocked on the roof, and told the rather surprised owner that he'd come adrift.  It was news to him!

This morning the cutting was bathed in sunshine, in contrast to yesterday's rain.  We had a modest target for the day, so it was 9.15 before we set off.

Cowroast Lock was the first landmark, and it looked very pretty.  Like all the locks on this stretch, there are signs asking that the lock be left empty with a bottom paddle raised, so we had to fill each one before we could go down.

There was a CRT man at the second lock of the day, as the short pound below had drained overnight.  He'd been alerted by a couple on a tiny little boat, who were waiting in the lock below.

Locks came and went at regular intervals as we decended towards Berkhamsted.

At the first of the Gas Locks, we met the unpleasant boater of the day.  As I arrived on foot, there was a widebeam boat in the lock with no-one around.  The owner eventually emerged, and as it appeared he was single handed I asked if he wanted help filling the lock.  He said no, rather abruptly.  He then explained that he had a Harley Davidson on the back deck (which it later transpired he sits on to steer) so it was important the boat wasn't bumped around in the lock.  I left him to open a ground paddle, and then he opened a gate paddle on the same side.  I suggested that if he opened the gate paddle on the opposite side instead, the boat would sit nicely against the wall rather than being swept over to the other side.  At that, he said it was his lock, his time, and I should go away.  So I did, down to set the lock below.  By the time I came back he was leaving the lock, failing to shut any of the paddles behind him.

When we got to Berkhamsted, there was plenty of room to moor in the Waitrose pound.  There's a winding hole below the next lock, but Adrian was sure there was enough room to turn above it, so he did.

We went out for lunch, as we had virtually no food left on board.  A nice looking cafe had no tables and a few people waiting, so we went to Ask over the road instead.  On the way back to the boat we went to Waitrose to restock the cupboards.

As it was nice and sunny we went for a look at Berkhamsted Castle, the ruins of a motte and bailey castle just the other side of the railway lines.  Judging by what the locals were saying, it appears the moat doesn't usually have so much water in it.

Back at the boat, Adrian did some work while I washed the towpath side of the boat.  Last night's heavy rain combined with a very muddy towpath meant it was pretty filthy.

It'll be a longer day tomorrow, as we begin our journey back to base.

4 miles, 7 locks.  (40 miles, 32 locks).


Debbie said...

Hi Adam, we went to Berkhamsted Castle around July/August last year and no sign of any water in the moat then, we did wonder why there were so many life rings around. There are a couple of pictures on our blog http://www.nb-lois-jane.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/berkhamsted-heritage-walk.html
Debbie xx

Adam said...

Hi Debbie - it was the life rings that made us think there was usually at least some water -- even though we heard a local use the word 'dry'!