Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Home Counties Cruise: Day 4

We were moored next to the Lee Valley White Water Centre last night, but it's closed on a Monday and Tuesday, so we'll make an effort to stop there again on the way back.  Having left this morning at just before 8.30, we identified a way in to the centre from the towpath.  A little further along, by a boat club, an ice cream boat was moored up.

Shortly after setting off, we'd passed four boats from the Stort Boat Club, who'd been in front of us yesterday.  They were getting ready to set off, so may not have been best pleased that we'd got to the lock first.  The first three locks were in our favour, left with the gates open, as is the practise round these parts.  There's no-where to step off as you go into the lock, so we've got quite adept at bringing the boat to a halt, and one of us climbing the ladder.  As we knew we had boats following us, we closed the top gate after us.

The river is really very beautiful -- much prettier than I think either of us had expected (particuarly as people keep telling us the Stort is much nicer).  There are big lakes and wetlands on either side, and plenty of trees, whose leaves are beginning to change.

The next few locks were against us, so we had to close the top gates and empty the lock before we could use it.  Feilde's Weir Lock is the last before the junction with the Stort.  We turned left, keeping us on the Lee Navigation.  After all the rural feel, a huge Sainsbury's distribution centre on one side and a go kart track on the other came as a bit of a shock.

At Stansted Lock there are warnings about the gate paddles at the top of the lock being very fierce.  We had to empty the lock, and that also turned out to be a bit of a trial.  The water rushing out of the lock caught the bow, and Adrian couldn't hold the boat to the side with the centre rope.  Dropping the paddles wasn't a quick as I would have liked, as they were hydraulic ones.  With the boat back against the lock landing, Adrian tied up bow and stern while the lock emptied.  Then a swing bridge over the lock has to be swung out of the way, and then the top gate paddle on the same side of the boat needs to be raised very slowly.

We stopped for water immediately above the lock, and also began a wash load.  Amazingly, the tank was full in no time at all.  Maybe we put more in than we thought yesterday, or maybe our use at Paddington Basin and the Angel Festival was less than we'd thought.  While the tank was filling, we had lunch.

Ware was the next town we went through.  There are some quaint eighteenth century gazebos fronting on to the river.  In many cases, the houses beyond as much more modern.

Ware Lock is controlled by the Environment Agency rather than CRT, because the intake for the New River is in the pound above.  The New River is an artificial river built in 1613 to supply London with drinking water from the River Lea and other springs.  There's a Gauge House at the point where the channel heads off.

Shortly afterwards comes the last lock on the Lee Navigation, at Hertford.  Then there's a short run into town, past rows of attractive cottages.

The head of navigation for boats our length is just above Folly Bridge, by a converted warehouse.

We returned a little way to the moorings.  A space we tried to get into was a couple of feet too short.  A man who turned out to be from Alaska on the boat at the end of the moorings said he'd been considering moving, and our arrival was just the prompt he needed to actually set off.

Having moored up next to the allotments, we went shopping to stock up for the next few days.  There's a Waitrose on the other side of the river, but we decided the Sainsbury's was probably closer.  The bit of the town we've seen so far looks very pleasant, and we might go for a better look round later.

13 miles, 10 locks.  (33 miles, 27 locks)

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