Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Home Counties Cruise: Day 19

 There was rain in the night, and just as we were thinking of getting going this morning there was another downpour.  However, fifteen minutes later it had stopped, and we set off at just after 8am.  It was still a bit misty and drizzly.

The first few locks were done in similar conditions.  Then it began to rain a bit more, and I even put my waterproof on for about half an hour.  Then we swapped with a boat at Springwell Lock, and the lady on board said it was supposed to have stopped raining by now;  within a couple of minutes it had stopped, and the sun came out.

Below Stocker's Lock I was looking out for one of the coal tax obelisks, marking the point twenty miles from central London where coal tax became due.  I'd spotted one on the Slough Arm a few weeks ago, but completely forgot to look for the ones on the Lee and the Thames.  I spotted this one, but it's not surprising I've not seen it before -- it's halfway down a long stretch of permanent moorings, hiden by a boat.  If you weren't looking for it, you wouldn't see it.

We stopped at the Tesco moorings in Rickmansworth for a quick shop, and got a wash load going at the same time.  Groups of children were being shown how locks work as we went up Batchworth Lock.  Lot Mead Lock took an age to fill, as both gate paddles are out of action.  Fortunately, it's a pretty place to wait.

Below Common Moor Lock the towpath is being improved, and the same workmen are putting in a new path on the offside, to serve the permanent moorers there.  We had to wait a long time for the lock as they were taking up a wide flat, to be filled with the aggregate that forms the base of the path. Once it was up it had to be bow hauled out; we had lunch while we waited.

The locks in Casiobury Park are all very pleasant -- even more so as it was now quite warm in the sunshine.

Just before we stopped for the day we passed a boat with a butty moored alongside, carrying a very nice store of wood.  The rest of the butty appears to be home to several birds of prey, and something of a greenhouse.

It was only about 3.15, but we'd reached our target for the day, Grove Ornamental Bridge.  We discussed carrying on, but neither of us could remember what potential moorings were ahead -- and thought we might end up having to do a lot more locks.  And as it was a day where most things seemed to have taken a long time, we decided to stop.  There was no space opposite the water mill, but we chose a spot just though the bridge.  In a field on one side a group were being put through an inflatable assault course; it appears the Grove Hotel and golf club offers a whole range of team building activities, of which this is one.

10 miles, 12 locks.  (235 miles, 155 locks)

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