Monday, May 24, 2010

Sudden summer days

Enjoy it while it lasts, hot n sunny.  We had got to Braunston and stayed a day to organise some work on the boat for later and the girls stocked up with food.  That hot Friday we moved up the wide locks with several boats going up and down, mostly two by two.  We enjoyed the social atmosphere chatting with the owners as we went up with Terry, Myra and Ann working the locks.  One boat was new being delivered to Crick for sale.  Then we spotted many improvements on the approach to the tunnel.
Much dredging and at last a firm dry towpath.
Despite all the boats coming down the locks we did not see a single boat in the tunnel to pass.  There are several bends in this old tunnel built in 1794.  There is a need to move slowly through in order to get safely by the bends, some of which have sharp edges which can do some damage to the boat.  It is of course very dark inside and all you have is a front light to show the way.
A few miles on from the tunnel we turned left onto the Leicester branch of the Grand Union.  Very different with trees either side but shallow soft edges.  We eventually stopped just short of the Watford locks very near to the busy M1 service station.  “I wonder if those travellers know that a quiet waterway is so close.”  We soon got the white sheets hung outside the windows to help keep it cool inside.  What a change from only a week ago.
Got away early, almost before breakfast and approached the lock flight.  Terry went ahead to get permission from the lock keeper to proceed.
The locks are close together and called ‘staircase’, have red and white paddles and so long as you operate red before white you’ll be alright.  White before red and you’re ded.  There were no other boats waiting so we were at the top in less than half an hour.  “Is that a record I ask?”  We then stopped for a few days just short of Crick tunnel and put the sheets out again.
While Terry n Myra went off by bus to Long Buckby we intended to walk to the tunnel and back but had only gone through a bridge and round the bend when we spotted a familiar boat.  There was Del n Al on board Derwent 6, known to us due to the internet and blog writing.  They kindly invited us in for coffee and a chat about our adventures.  Next day they came to us for cool drinks.
When we went through the tunnel it proved to be cool and damp as usual despite the hot weather.  Got water at the other end found a mooring and went shopping in Crick.

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