Thursday, 1 September 2016

East Mids Exploration: Day 1

After starting by going in the wrong direction, and then pausing to go to work, we're finally off no running. We left Wolverton at just before 8am, and it was an hour and a bit before we passed the entrance to our marina. When we got to the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne Locks, an Alvechurch hire boat was just in front of us, but they said they needed to top up with water, so we started up the locks alone. However, their topping up was quicker than they'd thought, so we waited for them at the next lock. The crew were a nice family from Bolton, three generations on their fourth boating holiday (including one in Belgium).

Our lock partners moored in the long pound, but we carried on. We'd started meeting moats coming down, including the widebeam hotel boat, Tranquil Rose. At the top lock we knocked on Kathryn's door, and she came out to say hello.

We headed off through Blisworth tunnel, but halfway through we caught up with a boat so the rest of the passage was on tick over. That meant it took a bit longer than usual to get through -- but not as long as another boat earlier this morning. Wide beam boats have to book a passage through the tunnel, and the crew of Tranquil Rose told us that when they came through heading south, another wide beam had been booked going north, and was allowed through first. It took them an hour and a quarter! Then the CRT guy let a narrowboat through, so TR had to wait even longer. They said by the time they arrived in Stoke Bruerne, there were seven boats waiting to go north.

At Gayton Junction, we turned onto the water point to fill the tank and start a wash load. There was a boat loitering there when we arrived, but they were just waiting to turn and reverse onto a mooring.

Setting off again, we had the long Stowe Hill Pound ahead of us. Adrian is still technically at work, so he had stuff to do, while I steered. This is very familiar water, but there were a couple of points of interest. Not long after Heyford Fields Marina, there was a bit of smoke across the canal. A fire in the offside hedge was still smouldering, but had clearly been quite fierce at one stage, because a whole fence post had all but disappeared. As we approached Furnace Lane Bridge, a fire engine went over.

After Stowe Hill Bridge, I saw a bird which flew like a kingfisher, but without the vibrant blue. It settled long enough for a photo; I think it may have been a young one.

Near Dodford Bridge, where we've moored a few times, I was eager to see what progress had been made with the new road and bridge over the canal. The field has been cleared, there's a big mound of soil, and a new temporary road.

We carried on until the bottom of the Buckby Locks, having travelled for more than 9 hours. This evening, my second cousin, Catherine, and her family are visited, and brought fish and chips with them!

23 miles, 8 locks. (37 miles, 9 locks)


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