Saturday, 18 April 2015

Post blacking cruise: Day 2

We slept well but were still awake quite early.  After breakfast, Adrian did some work and I continued writing up yesterday's boat test.  At one point I saw a bird with a long beak walk past on the towpath.  Having taken advice and looked at the bird book, I think it was probably a snipe.  It was gone by the time I got the camera out.

We set off in bright sunshine but a chilly breeze at around 8.30.  At Gayton Junction, a Alvechurch hire boat was turning into the Northampton Arm, a Canal Boat Club boat was coming the other way to do the same, and a private boat was just coming off the water point, so it was all rather busy.

We tied up as Blisworth, both to make a quick visit to the little shop for bread, and because we'd arranged a family visit.  Catherine, Nigel, Grace, and Matthew arrived at 10 for a trip through the tunnel (except for Nigel who took the car over the top and down to the bottom of the locks).  Just before the tunnel there's a rope swing in the trees, and today two lads and their dad were making use of it.

The tunnel passage took under half an hour, and there was plenty of singing and whistling as we went through.  We did the whole thing on our own, with no other boats in either direction.  By the time we emerged, Nigel had arrived at the south portal to get on board.

At the top lock a volunteer lock keeper set the lock for us.  At the third lock a couple of boats had come up, and we paired up with another boat on its way down.  Grace and Matthew did their fair share of pushing gates.

Thanks to boats coming up, and Nigel going ahead to set or help with locks, we made very rapid progress down to the bottom, where we stopped on a water point.  We had no idea how much water we had in the tank, so thought it wise to top up.  It appears we didn't have very much, as it took a while to fill -- which gave us plenty of time for teas, coffees and cookies.

Catherine and co said their goodbyes, and we set off again, continuing to just before Bridge 57 at Grafton Regis.  It's a popular spot, but there was plenty of room today and we've got a nice straight bit of piling to moor to.  We had a late lunch, then I washed the towpath side of the boat which was very dusty from having spent time In the workshop.  Out of the wind it's really quite warm, and the view from the cratch is pretty good.

There have been loads of boats going past this afternoon.  One's just moored behind us, with the people saying they're on their way back from the Milton Keynes Canal Cleanup.  Apparently they pulled an amazing amount of stuff out of the water.

7 miles, 7 locks.  (10 miles, 7 locks)

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