Tuesday, 5 August 2014

London-bound: Day 5

We had a very quiet night in Aylesbury Basin, until 7 this morning when there were foreign voices very close to the boat.  Adrian stuck his head out the side hatch to find several Chinese people in wheelchairs.  They said they were taking photos, but Adrian told them it was a private area, and we were still trying to sleep.  The finger moorings are actually gated, but the lock wasn't being used.  It seems the hotel alongside the basin is used by people going to events at Stoke Mandeville hospital, which is nearby.

Once the work had started on the building site, we moved across the basin to one of the many water points, filled the tank, started a wash load, and had breakfast.  We set of back up the arm at 8.30.  Once we were rising in the first lock, Adrian went to the adjacent Tesco for some hayfever tablets; I finished off the lock, and started the next one.  We were soon passing the Aylesbury Canal Society's new basin at Circus Fields.  This is another mooring option on the arm -- they let visitors stay for a couple of weeks for nothing.  Apparently we were spotted passing, as we had a comment from Tony from Holderness (whose blog is on the list) saying he'd seen us.  It seems he was about to pay us a visit, so it's unfortunate that we missed out on that.

At the Aylesbury end of the arm, the locks are relatively few, but the bridges are many.  The sound of cars hooting as they approach, without showing any sign of slowing down, becomes quite familiar.  Many have clearly been hit on a regular basis. And it's not surprising that some need holding together.

Lock 12 is the one which had a wall collapse last year.  The new brickwork has the date set into it.

Most of the locks on the arm need to be left empty, which seems quite good going up, except that you then have to go back to raise a bottom paddle.  We passed a total of three boats today, which helped a bit.

We stopped for lunch in a lovely spot between locks 5 and 4.  The Hudson boat we met the other day had overnighted here, and we could see why: nice views across farmland, not near any roads, and very quiet.

Lock 4, Black Jack's Lock, has a house alongside with a beautiful garden, complete with a stream which runs under the canal.

The staircase pair at the top of the arm takes quite a while, as there's only one paddle working at the very top, and there is only one paddle between the two locks.  While we rose, I looked over the fence to find that quite a lot of bricks had been laid since yesterday on the new housing development.  They're using white bricks, which doesn't seem very Marsworth to me!

From the junction, we went straight into the seven Marsworth locks up to the summit.  At the first lock there's a cafe (which always looks closed from the canal side, but is actually usually open) and Adrian went to get a couple of little tubs of ice cream to help us on our way.  

The flight took an hour and a half -- pretty good going, particularly as people coming down seemed to be doing their best to delay us.  At one lock, a day boat was in the lock, with adults working the paddles and three teenage boys doing the steering.  They had the boat pole across-ways, and their method of steering was to use the pole against the lock walls.  When they tried to get out of one gate with the pole still across the boat, I suggested that the pole would be better on the roof and left there.  Anyway, we were at the top in reasonable time, and without it seeming like hard work.

We considered stopping at Bulbourne, and there were plenty of spaces available with a decent outlook and mooring rings.  But it was only 3.15pm so we decided to head along the summit pound, past the former BW Bulbourne workshops, which are now used by metal workers creating works of art.

It came over very dark while we were in the Tring cutting, and it even tried to rain.  It's not nearly as deep as some of the cuttings on the Shroppie, but it's still rather atmospheric.

We moored up at just gone 4pm, a little way before Cowroast marina.  The Virgin trains are just beyond the towpath hedge, and we can hear the main road between Aylesbury and Berkhamsted -- and we've had to use mooring stakes.  But it's a nice enough spot.  The towpath is also on the other side, so we washed the dirty side of the boat, which now looks a whole lot better.

With 23 locks done today, our lock count for this trip has now exceeded our miles total -- and is likely to stay that way for a while yet as we begin our descent towards London tomorrow.

10 miles, 23 locks.  (45 miles, 57 locks)

1 comment:

Carol said...

You’ll probably catch us up in the next few days - if you’ve time to stop, that would be good!