Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Rediscovery Cruise: Day 21

There was rain in the night (and I believe that’s a first for this trip), but it was dry by this morning.  The end of the Wendover Arm is a very quiet place to moor.  Yesterday evening, I took a walk to have a look at the next section of the canal, which is not yet in water.  Before setting off I had another look down the weed hatch, and removed a load of fishing line from the prop shaft, which would explain why yesterday’s journey along the arm was so juddery.  We set off at 8.30 and it it took about 40 minutes to get back to Bulbourne Junction.

The Tring Summit is the highest we’ve reached on this trip — it’s higher than the Braunston Summit and the Oxford Summit.  We had a short wait before we could start heading downhill again, as CRT were running water down the Marsworth Flight and had locked the top lock.  It was about 9.30 when the water shortages had been sorted and we could begin our decent.  It felt good to be doing a flight of locks, rather than having one every half a mile as we’ve had over the past few days.  The canal twists and turns, but is very pretty.

Half way down, a very good volunteer lock keeper joined us.  At each lock, he’d raise a bottom paddle then walk on to get the next lock ready.  He used to work for CRT, and really speeded our progress — with all seven locks taking just over an hour.  Towards the bottom of the flight is a nice mooring pound, next to the reservoirs; it always reminds me of Jaq and Les, because when Les was ill I spent a morning helping them move their boat, and that’s where Les wanted to moor, as it was one of his favourites.  Next we passed Marsworth Junction, where the newish houses look attractive.

At the next pair of locks two boats were coming up the top one, so I walked down and opened the lower one ready for us.  There’s a nice cottage with a canal outbuilding there.

At the boat club round the corner, someone is trying a novel way of selling their boat, by offering £5 tickets.  The way boat prices are at the moment, I’m sure they’d be better off doing it the conventional way.

Adrian got off to swing the bridge past Pitstone Wharf, but a woman walking a couple of dogs said she’d do it.  It turned out she wasn’t just a kind hearted dog walker, but was with a pair of boats coming up the next lock.  The middle Seabrook lock has one of the old pump engine buildings, which Adrian always thinks would make a nice house.  It would be difficult, as there appears to be no road access.

When we got to the Ivinghoe Locks, a single handed chap was just leaving the top lock.  He said he’d wait for us at the next one, although as it happened he’d also waited for a boat coming up.  We also shared the final lock of the day, Horton Lock.

It was lunchtime when we moored above Slapton Lock, and we got secure just as a shower started.  We reckoned we’d done well to get our planned day’s boating done in the dry.  No sooner had we tied up than the Jules Fuels boats came round the corner, so we flagged them down and took on 45 litres of diesel (at 70p, which is 20p less than on the Thames).

We had lunch and have spent the afternoon not doing much.  I keep meaning to pop out and look for some blackberries, as there were plenty as I was walking between locks earlier — but it keeps raining.  At times, it has hammered it down.

6 miles, 15 locks.  (278 miles, 183 locks)

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