Yesterday there were a couple of signs that we were getting closer to home: our first sight of the West Coast Mainline, and passing a Wyvern Shipping hire boat out of Leighton Buzzard. Today we really feel as though the end is in sight, as we're back on waters we've done in this direction.
Last night we decided to eat out in Berkhamsted. We had a voucher for Cafe Rouge, so went there. It was fine, in unremarkable. This morning we set off at 8am; the water level in the pound had dropped by a good six inches or so, and the stern was well stuck on the mud, so took a bit of shoving to get away from the side. There were seven more locks up to the Tring Summit. Between the two Dudswell Locks, the pound was very short of water, and the CRT lenghsman and his trainee were about to run water down. It meant we had a wait of twenty minutes or so at Cowroast Lock while water was sent down the hill. We used the time to start a load of washing.
Cowroast Lock is one of the many in this area which have signs asking that they are left empty; but it seems some people arriving from the north have failed to notice the raised paddle, because there's now another sign on the balance beam.
Having gone up Cowroast Lock we were on the Tring Summit. We've climbed just over 374 feet since coming off the Thames at Brentford on Monday. The weather celebrated by starting to drizzle, then there was proper rain for a little while, but it didn't last long. At the other end of the summit pound, we began dropping down the other side of the Chilterns. Adrian worked the seven locks of the Marsworth Flight. The first and second locks were empty, so he had to fill them, then we met a couple of boats coming up so the locks were full or just needed topping up. The bottom lock was empty. Even so, we completed the flight in around an hour; these always seem like fast locks. They're also very pretty, with glimpses of views across the reservoirs.
We stopped for lunch opposite the junction of the Aylesbury Arm, right next to the junction finger post which pointed out that it's 39 and a quarter miles to Brentford.
Work on the development at the junction has advanced since August, with the frames of houses now up along the waterside.
We set off again, and did the two locks below the junction, crossing with a boat in the middle pound. Adrian realised he'd never done the Pitstone Swing Bridge, so got off to swing it. A Wyvern boat was coming the other way, so they went through too.
We then did the three Seabrook Locks. At the middle one, there's one of the Northern Engine pump houses, which Adrian always thinks would make a good conversion into a house. There's no road access, of course, which could be why it hasn't been done already.
We stopped at 3pm below the bottom Seabrook Lock -- having dropped almost 77 feet from the summit. It's just a couple of hundred yards from where we stopped, almost in desperation, three years ago; they've installed a nice bit of piling since then, so mooring is much easier.
9 miles, 19 locks. (254 miles, 197 locks)