Thursday, 7 August 2014

London-bound: Day 7

Another lovely sunny morning, but a slightly later start.  The clock on the cricket pavilion said 9 o'clock as we left, straight into Boxmoor Bottom Lock.

A little while later we stopped at the water point at Apsley middle lock to top up the tank, and get rid of rubbish.  At Apsley bottom lock there's a nice modern bridge which featured quite heavily in the photos when I did a boat test here a few years back.  There's a similar picture of Briar Rose (in the un-repainted state) in this post from the last time we came this way three years ago.

Three years ago they were building on the old Nash Mills paper mill site.  They still are.

We'd shared the lower Nash Mill lock with a couple on a little boat called Desdemona.  They'd bought it at Swanley Marina on the Llangollen and were taking it home to London.  They reckon it'll be their holidays for the next ten years.  I think they were hoping we could share the next few locks, but we had an appointment.  We knew Carol and George were moored just round the corner on their widebeam boat, Still Rockin'.  After a couple of attempts at getting to the side, we eventually moored up a few feet out from the edge, right in front of them, and had a great hour or so catching up over tea and biscuits.

Housing and offices line the canal over the next few miles, but there are also some unusual boats.  One has most of a Volkswagen Touran mounted on the bow, in place of a cratch cover.

Before long we were passing under the M25, which crosses the valley here on a long viaduct.  The walls are so high you can't actually see cars at all, and only the tops of lorries are visible.  I guess the drivers don't realise they're crossing a canal and a railway line.

When we got to the two Hunton Bridge locks, there was clearly some kind of problem.  Water was being run down through the first lock -- but the cause of the problem was at the lower one.  Our previous lock sharers on Desdemona were there, and had been unable to fully close the bottom gates, so the lock wouldn't fill.  They, plus the owner of a widebeam which was also above the upper lock, and I, all tried various things, including poking around on the cill with a boat pole, but we couldn't get the gates to close. With the middle pound now at a reasonable level again, the widebeam and we came down, as a CRT chap had arrived to sort out the problem.  It turned out to be the same one, Steve, who, we'd seen yesterday at Berkhamstead.  He managed to shift whatever was on the cill using his keb, although he couldn't fish it out.

When everything was back to normal, we shared the lock with Desdemona, and stayed with them for the next few locks.  Grove Bridge is an attractive spot (and there's another picture just like the one below on the post from three years ago, so you can compare how the offside vegetation has grown; the trees are so big now, they spoil the symmetry of the bridge).

There's a very impressive converted water mill just past the bridge, but we also liked a little house at the next bridge, which looks as though it's been recently modernised.

Our lock companions were aiming for Uxbridge, which is a good few hours away yet, but by around 4pm we decided we'd had enough.  Last time we stopped in Cassiobury Park just above Iron Bridge Lock; this time it was rather busy there, so we came down the lock and moored below.  Fortunately this side of the canal is shade by trees, so we're a bit protected from the heat.

Tomorrow's forecast looks dire, so we may modify our plans for the weekend.

6 miles, 15 locks.  (58 miles, 90 locks)

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