Saturday, 8 April 2017


Today's Canals - Grand Union Main Line and Leicester Branch

The forecast was for glorious sunshine and it was not wrong! We had beautiful blue skies from the outset and by the afternoon it felt as hot as on some summer days.

It was not far to the three Calcutt Locks but as we set off a training boat from Willow Wren passed with one of its Helmsman Courses. It felt as if the students were on the 'how to steer at very slow speeds' bit of the course! However, when we caught them up to go through the first two Calcutt Locks with them they were very pleasant.

This is the same former railway that we have seen several times since it left Leamington on its way to Rugby. It will cross our path again before we reach Braunston. At one time this village had two lines each with its own station.

At Calcutt Marina we turned in - not the easiest of tasks but Alchemy performs very well in this sort of manoeuvre - we wanted to fill our fuel tank which by now was just below half. Fist task: how to open the locking cap! We did enquire about having the gearbox first service but as it was turn around day they were unable to help.

Once we had completed the re-fuel we set off up the last of the locks in the flight and then down the short distance to Napton Junction.

Having not seen much traffic until now, it suddenly got much busier - apparently it is now Easter school holidays! Negotiating the junction took some care. We met a succession of boats as we cruised the five miles to Braunston.

Just after Braunston Junction Mike dropped Christine at the net road bridge so that she could walk into the village for a newspaper, milk and anything else she that might find (in the event not a lot extra!)

Shortly afterwards, Mike pulled in to the elsan and water point. After dealing with the former and waiting for the latter, he was able to make up his lunchtime sandwiches. Then, another quick stop at the former Toll House to drop off a rubbish bag and then motored slowly to the locks.

No sign of Christine (Mike had promised not to go beyond the top lock!) he opted to single hand up the locks - there was no boat waiting to share at this stage but a steady flow coming down.

This boat calls itself Linnets' Circus - no idea why!

After completing the first two locks, he met Christine walking down from the top. Somehow she had missed seeing him further down. At this point a moored boat asked if they could join us for the remaining four. It turned out they they were not the most expert at handling their boat so progress was quite slow - further delayed by a boat coming down ending up right across the canal. In any event, we finally made it to the top and continued on to Braunston Tunnel.

By now we had investigated options for church tomorrow morning but found that there was not too much choice that was accessible, other than 9.45 at Crick which is quite close to the canal. As kit was such a glorious day we decided to make the most of it and to continue as far as we could to see if
Crick was possible.

We were doing quite well until we arrived at the bottom of the Watford Locks. Two boats were waiting but soon entered the bottom lock. Whilst Mike looked after the boat, Christine went to check in with the lock keeper (we did already know that as a very recent change, this flight is left open 24 hours even when the keeper goes off duty). We were instructed to wait until a boat called Perseverance came down and then to  follow the other two boats up through the flight.

We eventually discovered that this boat was on it first trip out from Crick Marina with a whole family (at least three generations if not four). It was a full length Dutch barge look alike and appeared to be very expensive - perhaps twice Alchemy if not more. It  had set out on a short afternoon cruise, aiming to turn around above the locks and head back to the marina. However they became stuck in the winding hole above the locks and were advised by the lock keeper to go done the flight an turn below. Even when they started down the locks their progress was not speedy! By the time they emerged from the bottom lock there was, even at this late afternoon, almost evening, a queue of four or five boats plus the two were held in the intermediate pounds, all waiting patiently!

Still, everyone was in good humour and eventually we were able to start our ascent which went smoothly (apart from Christine finding that one intermediate pound, just below the staircase, had taken lessons from Knowle Locks and sent her well off course) A little comfort was that the boat ahead of us and the one behind all had the same experience!

It was a fantastic evening a good to be cruising (even the moon gets in on the act!) but we called halt just before Crick tunnel - we will have to make an early start tomorrow to complete the couple of miles through the tunnel to Crick. Although it looked as if there were plenty of good moorings, when we finally choose a spot to stop we ended up a foot away from the piling!

15.3 miles - 16 locks

No comments:

Post a Comment