It was pretty chilly when we woke up this norning, but the sun was shining again. We set off about 8.30, retracing our route back down the Lee Navigation. At the fourth lock, Stanstead, the lock was empty and there was a boat approaching, so Adrian swung the bridge out of the way, and the single-handed boater came into the lock. I knew it would take a while to fill the lock because of having to open the fierce paddles slowly, so as the water point was on the lock landing I took the opportunity to fill the tank to the brim again.
At Rye House Junction, we turned to the left, onto the Stort. If you didn't know it was there, you'd have trouble working out where to go.
The Stort is immediately different from the Lee -- much narrower, twisty, and river-like. The locks on the Stort are 13ft wide, which means only one narrowboat can use them, and both gates need to be open. The width is very deceptive, though, and you can tell why some people have thought they could get two narrowboats in.
The second lock has a lovely lock cottage alongside. It has a plaque bearing the red hand emblem of Sir George Duckett.
At some point we moved from Hertfordshire into Essex. There are some very low bridges at Roydon. Then at Parndon Mill Lock there is a large mill building, which now provides studios for artists and craftsmen. There's also an artwork celebrating the Stort, and the weir stream above the lock has an elaborately designed bridge over it.
Harlow is the next big town, but you see hardly any of it from the river (which many would say is a very good thing). All that's really visible is Harlow Town station, which is right by the moorings above Burnt Mill Lock. You could moor here and hear every station announcement.
We'd earmarked Sawbridgeworth as our planned stop for tonight, but didn't know exactly where we'd be aiming for. Sheering Mill Lock is the first in the town, and has powered bottom gates because they're completely underneath a road bridge. Above the lock, there are hundreds of yards of bollards in front of a housing development, with dozens of 'Private No Mooring' signs. Then there's a rather attractive mill building, which has been converted into business units.
The official Sawbridgeworth moorings consists of one boat length against a wall next to a road. There was already a boat on it. We carried on to Sawbridgeworth Lock, and went up. Above, there was a huge clump of floating pennywort against th gates, so I got the boat hook and moved it round to the weir stream. There was a length of piling, so we moored up, at just before 5pm. We have done 11 of the 15 Stort locks.
15 miles, 15 locks. (48 miles, 42 locks)