Wednesday 16 May 2018


Today's Canal - Grand Union

After the glorious sunshine of the last couple of days, it was rather a shock to the systems to awake today to the promised grey and much cooler day. Unfortunately the sky was covered with almost uniform cloud all day.

After setting off it was a short hop to Norton Junction (thanks Adam!) - in between the start of the Leicester section and the top lock there is a waterways maintenance base.

As we rounded the corner it was far from obvious that we could pass by but, of course, there was plenty of room. They seemed to be unloading stone and concrete pieces that had been removed from workings somewhere else and brought here by boat.

At the top lock we carried out the full range of services before setting off down the flight of seven locks. One of the reasons that this spot is a popular stopover for hire boats is the  New Inn which is alongside the top lock and services food. We saw far more moving boats in the first hour today than for the rest of the day. Alas,  nothing came up the flight and all of the locks were set against us.

Above the second lock the back pumps were in full flow - so much so that it makes it a bit more difficult to maintain the correct line when coming slowly into the lock.

Half way down the flight we passed under the very busy main railway line which would keep us close company all day.

We have shown in a blog several years ago this painted seat above the bottom lock but it did look to us as if it has been spruced up a bit since then.

We found the locks today to be much harder work than elsewhere - certainly harder than the Braunston flight yesterday. Certainly descending should have been easier than ascending in broad locks. We were quite pleased to see the bottom lock receding in our rear view!

It was then a long level pound to Gayton Junction. We have been this way numerous times before but it is still a pleasant cruise. This chap has been keeping watch over Bridge 21 for some time but he too seems to have a new outfit.

We saw a number of historic boats moored at various places - but we have not yet found out anything about this one.

Several years ago our blog showed a boat being worked on, on the bank beside the canal and wondered how long before it made it back into the water. We can now report that it did indeed make it back! Frieslan is listed on the Historic Ships Register as a small dutch motor barge built in 1923 and moved to the UK in 1983. It had just been acquired by a new owner for restoration when we previously saw it here.

Shortly before reaching Weedon Bec we came across this bridge construction site. We learnt later in the village that it is part of a new bypass that will enable traffic to avoid the cross roads at the edge of the village and which locals have been campaigning for twenty years.

We moored on the embankment above the church as there were just a few items we wanted to look for in the village shop. As we passed by the church we were pleased to see that it is now open daily - when we came before it was always locked.

Parts of the church date back to Norman times but the main section was re-built in the mid 19C. The Chapter House or parish hall was added not long ago. The flat ceilings to the side aisles are less common.

The windows have several stained glass panes - unusually they are a smaller inset amongst a plainer but patterned surround.

The village also has an imposing United Reformed Church, originally Congregational, that dates from 1792.

We continued into the village (with the noisy railway viaduct looming overhead). This property may be rather old but it can still sport a satellite dish! Unfortunately the One Stop shop had sold out of our newspaper but they kindly directed us to a newish Tesco Express which has opened at the cross roads.

We walked under the railway and canal embankments and eventually arrived at the supermarket and were relieved, after the effort of getting there, that a single copy remained on the stand!

To get back to the boat we walked along the canal towpath. However this brought us inconveniently on the opposite bank! Luckily there were steps down and a further aqueduct allowed us to pass under the canal and back up the steps on the opposite side.

We have not provided an entry into our unusual boats collection for some time - so this seeming floating container will have to make do for now!

Fortunately the bow lookout spotted us in time to warn the steerer who fortunately thus avoided t-boning us! We carried on until just short of Gayton Junction and moored up with a good armco bank and a tv signal.

12.4 Miles - 7 Locks

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