Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Spring cruise - Day 6

It's been a beautifully sunny day today, by far the best weather of the trip so far.  We had a quiet night in Berkhamsted; the trains are very close, but you stop noticing them after a while.  Among the ones that went past yesterday evening was a bright yellow train, a converted InterCity 125, which uses high tech equipment to check the track.

This morning we set off just after 8.30, straight into the two Gas Locks -- both of which had both bottom gates open.  A bit further along we saw our first ducklings.

There was wildlife of a different sort by the lower Dudswell Lock, a field of llamas (or are they alpacas, I'm never sure what the difference is).

The lock itself is very pretty, and a butterfly came and posed for me.

As all the locks have to be left empty along this stretch, we'd made good progress and we also started meeting boats coming down.  Once we'd gone up Cowroast Lock onto the summit, we pulled onto the water point.  We started a wash load while the tank filled, and I re-opened the lock for an approaching boat, as the water point is on the lock landing.

We crossed the summit, and the Tring Cutting looked entirely different in the sunshine compared with the rain of Monday.  At the approach to Bulbourne Junction it seemed like a tight fit between narrowboats on the offside and a massive widebeam boat on the visitor moorings.

We were making good time, so I suggested a trip down the Wendover Arm.  So we turned left under the junction bridge.  A couple from a boat which had just moored up were standing on the bridge, and complimented me on my turn!

We last did the Wendover Arm when we went to London about two and a half years ago.  It's very narrow in places, then there's the interruption of a big flour factory, then it's back out into the countryside.  The whole thing is currently only a mile and a half long.

We turned at the current terminus, and moored up in the sunshine for lunch.  The detour had taken about 45 minutes and is well worth it, particularly on a lovely day like today.

We could easily have stayed where we were, but after lunch decided to head back.  The return journey to the junction took only half an hour.  We met one boat, fortunately on one of the slightly wider sections.  Just before the junction, I got off to set the top Marsworth lock, while Adrian brought the boat round.

We had a very rapid decent of the locks.  We met a widebeam coming up at the third one, then a volunteer lock keeper helped us by setting a couple as we appraoched, and then we met a day boat coming up the bottom lock.  We did all seven locks in an hour.  There were lots of gongoozlers around, including children who wanted to help push the gates.  One retired couple marveled at the boat entering a lock through just one gate:  "It must have been designed like that," the man said to his wife.  You can see the appeal of a visit here: not only is there the canal and the locks, there's also the huge reservoirs, and an ice cream parlour near the bottom.

Today illustrates how slowly we've been taking things.  We've done today what took two days going the other way, and we were still moored up near the junction by 2.45!

10 miles, 14 locks.  (50 miles, 46 locks)

1 comment:

berth said...

We met you today at the Tring summit :-)

NB "Wanderlust",
Magda and Berth

Good sailing