Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Pre-Crick: Journey Day 1

Adrian arrived at a little before 10 last night. This morning we were awake early, and uo, showered and breakfasted in time to set off just before 7.30. It was a glorious morning.

We didn't see another moving boat until we were half way up Stoke Bruerne Locks. In fact, the first boat we saw was being carried. It was a pedalo, with two guys going from Birmingham to Brentford for charity. They were on the path on the offside, and Adrian pointed out that the path under the A508 is narrow and low. They decided the proper towpath was better, so put the boat in the water above the lock and pushed themselves across.

At the penultimate lock we met a confused volunteer lock keeper. A boat was coming down and the lock needed a little topping up, so he quite sensibly lifted a couple of top paddles. Then when I arrived he dropped them again. I asked why, and he said there was a boat coming up (us); I pointed out that the lock only needed a little bit of water to enable the downhill boat to use it first, at which point he shrugged and said he didn't know what to do it that situation. I opened the top paddles again and the boat went down. We did the whole flight in an hour and a half.

Blisworth Tunnel wasn't cold but it was wet, and I wished I'd put my coat on. We passed two boats. The railway bridge north of Blisworth has some lovely blue griders underneath. We've been under this bridge loads of times, but I only noticed them when I did a boat test up here a few weeks ago; actually I didn't even notice them then, it was when Andy's photos arrived. They may be making another appearance soon!

At some point after Gayton we passed Jaq moored up, and said a quick hello. We had lunch on the move, then stopped for diesel at Rugby Boats, where we met the new owner, James. Chance was moored in the little marina. At what used to be one of our favourite moorings, before Dodford Bridge, the works for the new road and bridge are in full swing. Tonnes of hardcore are being delivered and compressed

As the M1 came into view, we noticed that the traffic was down to a crawl. We were moving faster than they were. We were making good time, so decided to press on up Buckby Locks. A boat was just coming down the first lock so that was in our favour, but then we were following a rather slow pair of boats, one a single hander, and the other a couple in which the Chinese lady didn't really seem to have fully mastered steering.

We decided to stop in the long pound. We haven't stayed here for a while because the level used to drop alarmingly over night. But work has been done on the lock, and the bottom gates now look pretty water tight. The M1 is still audible, but not as bad as at the bottom. Tomorrow, assuming we don't have a huge delay at Watford, we'll overshoot Crick and spent the night somewhere out alomg the summit pound.

21 miles, 13 locks.

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