Wednesday, 6 August 2014

London-bound: Day 6

There was heavy rain in the night, but by the time we set off this morning at 8.30 the cloud was beginning to lift.  Indeed, by the time we were in Cowroast Lock about 15 minutes later, the sky looked a whole lot brighter.

Most of the locks on this stretch have to be left empty with a bottom paddle raised, which is a right pain when you're going down hill.  It means each lock has to be filled.  Even so, we got to Berkhamsted in good time, having seen the local CRT man at a couple of the locks.  At Northchurch he was fishing out weed, and also managed to scoop up a crayfish; at the same lock, Adrian saw a little mouse, which apparently lives in a crack in the brickwork.

At Berkhamsted we started meeting boats coming up.  The town was looking very nice in the sunshine, with its signature totem pole, and then three pubs very close together.  We particularly liked the look of The Boat, with colourful hanging baskets along the patio.

We stopped for lunch after the top Bourne End Lock.  We'd put the bread machine on before we left, so we had a nice fresh loaf.

After lunch, the locks kept coming.  They're not really in flights as such, but they're not far apart either, so it's not really worth getting back on board.  I reckon I must have walked at least five of the seven miles we travelled today.

At Winkwell, we passed the Three Horseshoes pub with a very busy garden, and then swung the electric bridge out of the way, stopping about four cars in the process.

There's a boat yard at the next lock, and Adrian was amused to see that a lorry with a widebeam loaded on the back was having trouble leaving the yard.  It didn't seem to be able to get round the corner, and there was much reversing and trying again.  You'd think that by that stage in the process the difficult bit would be over, but apparently not.

Below the lock, the river comes into the canal quite strongly from the right hand side, pushing the boat all over the place.  Adrian steered us through without incident, but a boat going into the lock was shoved right into the wall.

We'd been planning to stop in the Winkwell area, but the best moorings turned out to be before the swing bridge, and we didn't really fancy the look of places further on.  So we did a couple more locks, and eventually chose a nice spot immediately above Boxmoor Bottom Lock in Hemel Hempstead.  There's parkland on the towpath side, while across the canal is a cricket pitch, with a match taking place.  I wondered who had time to play cricket on a weekday, but it turns out it's the local club's cricket week, so there are special events each day.

It's felt like a bit of a slog at times today, but with eighteen locks under our belts that's not really surprising.  The upside is that the weather has been far better than forecast, and that tomorrow looks good too.

7 miles, 18 locks.  (52 miles, 75 locks)

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