A little boat that I wrote a feature about a couple of years ago came and moored in front of us last night, so this morning I went to have a chat with the owners. With the Buckby Locks still closed, we were in no rush to get going, and finally left at around 9.30. It's not far to the bottom of the locks, and we moored at the end of what looked like a very long queue. I walked up the flight to see what the situation was, and spoke to the most senior CRT person there, the aptly named Lee King. At that stage, all their efforts to put the gate back in place had failed, and they were waiting for more equipment to arrive. Lee said he'd never seen such a badly damaged gate.
Back at the bottom lock, I phoned Adrian, who'd stayed on board doing some work, and decided to have lunch at the Whilton Marina Cafe. While I waited for him to walk up the towpath, I sat on the balance beam and watched numerous birds busily fetching and carrying. A tiny wren made repeated visits to the lock, picking up things from the gate, and even disappearing inside the gaps under the coping stones to find food.
There are some nice cottages at the bottom lock, but one that's always been run down. It's now got significant work under way, with the owners appearing to be living in a caravan in the back garden.
Lunch at the cafe was so-so toasted sandwiches and rather greasy chips; I'm not sure we'd rush back there. Afterwards we went to the Canal Turn Farm Shop by the second lock, and bought some lamb chump chops for dinner tonight, plus some extra veg, butter, and milk.
The farm shop is collecting signatures on a petition, as they're having to close down at the end of the summer, because of the building of a new road. The Flore/Weedon by-pass is going right through the fields where they graze their cattle, and they'll end up having to pay rent on land they can't use. The same road is the reason for the works in the field next to our mooring last night: the road is coming right across it, and there will be a huge embankment and a bridge over the canal and the railway line. I guess that means we won't be stopping there again!
This afternoon we've washed and polished the towpath side of the boat, and talked to lots of people who are either stuck here like us, or were walking the towpath. It's not the ideal mooring, with the West Coast Mainline up on a big embankment on one side, and the M1 only about 100 metres away the other.
However, better news came this afternoon. Someone had been back up to the lock, and found that work boats have arrived, stop planks were in, the lock had been drained, and the gate wasn't as badly damaged at the bottom as had been feared. It might be possible to put it back in place tomorrow morning, so if everything goes to plan there's a chance the locks could re-open in the afternoon.
2 miles, 0 locks. (20 miles, 7 locks)