Friday 22 September 2017

Sept 4-6 Cassiobury to Bulls Bridge Junction

Monday 4 September above Cassiobury Bridge Lock, Watford, to below Stocker's Lock, Rickmansworth Batchworth Lock (3 miles, 4 locks)
Jo with canoe over Cassio Bridge Lock 78

Jo, Mark and Liana at Cardington Lake

Jo at Cardington
After our canoe slalom weekend with Jo and Mark at Cardington, we slept in and only set off once the rain had stopped.
Metroolitan Line crossing the canal


Batchworth locks 81 and 81A

We stopped at the Tesco mooring in Rickmansworth before finding a quiet spot below Stocker's lock, before a mile of parked up boats began. With no tv reception, John missed the England soccer match, but watched a Sharpe dvd instead.

Tuesday 5 September Batchworth (Rickmansworth) to Cowley Lock, plus planning Thames trips (8 miles, 7 locks)
The sun shone through gaps in the clouds after a damp night. We set off, dodging drizzly showers, past lots of moored boats, some dilapidated and unlicensed, through Springwell and Copper Mill locks.
hanging monkey

leaving Springwell Lock 83

approaching Coppermill Lock
The Sharks have their slalom course in the strong currents below this lock.
Sharks Slalom
Passing the Coy Carp pub, on the left hide more moorings, while lakes, flooded gravel workings, can be seen through the trees to the right. Black Jack's cottage at that lock had a good veranda.

After seeing an alligator, we saw a protester's flag, against the HS2 rail track, hung near Harefield marina, close to where it should cross the canal – if it happens.

We paused for lunch on visitor moorings below the 11 feet deep Denham Deep Lock at the 24 hour Swan and Bottle visitor moorings, opposite a 1930s block of flats. The blue boat behind us looked like it had been there much longer, judging by the plants!
24 hour moorings?

John would have stopped at Uxbridge Boat Centre chandlery, but the moorings were all full. Liana carried on counting all the boats without a current CRT license visible as we cruised passed boats on both sides before mooring above Cowley Lock, the last lock before the Slough Arm and Bulls Bridge Junction, where many boats turn East for Little Venice, the Paddington Arm, the Regents Canal en route for the Lee & Stort or Limehouse Basin and the Thames. After a walk in the park and a pint at the Malt Shovel by Cowley Lock, we dashed back to avoid the rain for a night in front of the TV and a read.

We have changed our plans to accommodate our daughter, Rachel, who wants to tour London's canals and the Thames next weekend. John has phoned the duty lock keepers at Limehouse Basin (020 7308 9930) and Brentford (020 8568 2779). The Thames Barrage is down all day on Sunday 10/9, so I was asked to ring the Port of London Authority (020 8855 0315). They advised that, as this would remove the strong tidal flood, slow narrowboats would take too long to reach Brentford, so Annie should go upriver on Saturday. After more phone calls, we have arranged to go downriver from Brentford about 3pm on Thursday 7/9, reaching Limehouse Basin about 6.30pm. After a day by ourselves on Friday, Rachel should join us, maybe at Paddington, and we can tour London's canals before being let out on the Thames from Limehouse Basin at 2pm on Saturday, reaching Brentford about 5.30pm (they think it takes 2.5 hours, but we don't rush and take 3.5 hours!).

Wednesday 6 September The Slough Arm and on to Bulls Bridge (15 miles, 1 lock)
Liana at moorings above Cowley Lock

Liana and volunteer at Cowley Lock
Up late on a lovely day, we descended Cowley Lock 89 with help from a volunteer, turned right at Cowley Peachey Junction by the Packet Boat Marina and headed West five miles to Slough basin.
Cowley Peachey Junction

Slough Arm

We crossed several aqueducts and passed under trellis-type iron bridges plus the M25.
Colne Aqueduct

The canal is rather overgrown and very shallow in places, especially the last mile. Blanket weed, pennywort and other plants, plus lots of plastic bags and rubbish made John use the weed hatch at the last bridge each way. The basin was sadly neglected, but we managed to wind and moor.

Annie moored in Slough basin using pins
We walked to the town centre. Slough is being redeveloped, so we hope the basin will be part of this, eventually. We passed NBs Scotch Corner and Kaydee who were also exploring the arm, before the Slough Festival this coming weekend.
NBs Scotch Corner and Kaydee


weed machine arriving too late for us
As we need to be at Brentford tomorrow lunchtime, we enjoyed the sunny late afternoon to travel the nine miles to moor at that historic junction at Bulls Bridge, where the Paddington Arm heads to London.
leaving the Slough Arm

Bulls Bridge, the way to London

Annie moored at historic Bulls Bridge

15-29 Aug Back onto the Grand Union Canal unfinished

Tue 15 August From the Nene Washlands to Stoke Bruerne

1462 65 68
John reversed out into the very wide Nene, bordered by washlands with distant high banks. We enjoyed the lovely morning as we moved to Abington Lock, up off the washlands and through narrower bosky channels through two more locks to Becket's Park, with its fairly new marina by the lock.

1473 74 79 83 84 Ten years ago this area was neglected. Passing along the river, the riverside was fairly tidy and welcoming. Liana went walkabout while Alison and I passed upriver to the bottom lock of the Northampton flight: Seventeen narrow locks, the first we have had to use in nearly a year, remarkably!! It has been all wide canals and rivers since we were on the Trent and Mersey Canal last summer.

1486 88 94 Liana appeared as John got Annie stuck on shallows to the left of the lock, needing the long pole to push her off. Entering CRT waters, we found a cheerful Inland Waterways working party tidying up the bottom lock area, weeding and pruning: Very impressive!

1499 1500 We had a sunny journey up the flight, enjoying the easier narrow lock gates, once renowned for being stiff, we were told. The towpath was excellent and grass was pretty short. Hedges were ok, mostly, all in all much better than before.

1503 05 10 Reaching the top lock cottage, we continued past a scenic Gayton Marina to the junction, where we watered up, emptied rubbish and used the Elsan facility. Liana said “South” when asked, so we passed a pretty Blisworth Marina and working pair Bordesley and butty on our way to the village and tunnel.

1513 15 17-21 The tunnel lights seemed better than Osprey's, and this time we didn't get bumped by a hire boat, as last time in Braunston tunnel. After mooring in that amazing setting at Stoke Bruerne, Alison treated us to an excellent meal in the Indian Restaurant, Spice of Bruerne, by the lock, followed by drinks and a game or two of Settlers of Catan on Annie. 1522 23 24
Annie at Stoke Bruerne

Alison by Stoke Bruerne museum

Alison and Annie in the evening sun

Wed 16 August Stoke Bruerne southwards to Fenny Stratford with Alison
Eating breakfast, a passing boat asked us to accompany them down the seven locks, so we dropped everything and shot off to the top lock, spending a hour or so with a pleasant elderly couple and their boat.

Travelling the six country miles to Cosgrove in the sunshine, we paused and walked the Buckingham arm.
CRT towpath work

Cosgrove moorings

Buckingham Arm progress?

Buckingham Arm first bridge is still down and bed beyond is dry :(
Not much had changed in ten years: Maybe next time ?
Through Cosgrove lock, once the first of four locks down to the river, we passed over the short but impressive Iron Trunk Aqueduct over the Great Ouse, which replaced all the other locks.
Iron Trunk Aqueduct over Great Ouse near Cosgrove

1542 44 46  Liana shopped at Tesco while John checked the engine.
Arty wall near Wolverley, Milton Keynes

Lionhearts Cruising Club AWCC
A wide beam bumped us in passing,with no apology. Luckily, most folk are really nice!
Milton Keynes seems very well maintained, with asphalt cycle and walkways, new housing and parkland, We had had enough for one day, so stopped at Fenny Stratford. Our nephew Scott came to fetch Alison, and took us to a good pie restaurant in Bletchley Park, “home of the codebreakers”.

moored at Fenny Stratford

Thur 17 August Southwards with friends Norman, Angela and Kate (8 miles, 6 locks)
Friends Norman and Angela, with granddaughter Kate, got up early this sunny morning and came to Annie at Fenny Stratford Lock.
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Norman and Kate at Red Lion lock 22 Fenny Stratford

Angela and Liana at Fenny Stratford Lock 22

Friday 18 August Linslade/Leighton Buzzard to Marsworth Junction (8 miles, 11 locks)

Norman at Grove Lock, Leighton Buzzard
Dredging was in full swing.

We saw "glamping chalets" on the way to Marsworth, where we had to tempt the swans out of the lock before we entered.

Liana lured the swans out with food
A young couple with their newly acquired boat came up Marsworth flight of locks with us, before waving farewell as we moored by the unction.
young couple about to set up home on boat in Hemel Hempstead: A sign of the times

Liana at Marsworth Junction

Not a bad mooring, although close to the bins! Kate woke up at 6 am, but we managed to rest until 7. Angela looked after Kate while Norman had an hour's sleep on the bed, after a night on cushions on the floor! A walker alerted us to a boat adrift ahead, so Norman, John and Kate went with hammer to reattach it - apparently not the first time for this boat. John was able to spend time at the front of the boat while Norman steered Annie uphill towards the canal summit on the Chiltern Hills. Angela and Liana did the lions share of the lock wheeling, with some help from John and Kate.

Saturday 19 August Marsworth Junction to Aylesbury Basin (6.5 miles, 16 locks)
Up late at 9.20am, we decided to sort water and empty holding tanks at the services before descending the sixteen locks and 6.5 miles to Aylesbury. We took our time, enjoying the occasional sunshine, although strong winds blew us about. The top two locks were a staircase. After four locks, we passed decrepit wooden working boats near Bates boatyard. After eight rural locks, we stopped for lunch at Wilstone moorings. To the North we saw a grand castle-like stately home, apparently built for the Rothschild family.
We passed three boats coming up, getting good reports of Aylesbury Basin. The rural setting continued until new house building and industry appeared as we reached Aylesbury. Reversing onto a mooring pontoon in the modern basin, we chatted with the trip boat lady, who was pleased to see other boats here.

Sunday 20 August At Aylesbury
We must need sleep: After a peaceful night we awoke after 10am! Tidied up, chatted to other boaters and had a wander about the pleasant town centre, a mixture of cobbled streets, pedestrianised areas and modern shopping centres. Cinema and theatre with Costa adjoin the canal basin, which has secure moorings and looks very modern. We chilled, ate Fajitas and read.

Monday 21 August Aylesbury to Wilstone (5 miles, 8 locks)
After a rainy night the boat nearby set off. John blogged using Waitrose wifi, until the sun appeared. Afamily helped us with two locks, but a lady arrived to tell us that lock 9 had a problem due to low pounds. CRT fixed it and we passed through to moor at Wilstone. We had a walk around the village and a drink at the Half Moon pub, but as no food was being cooked we ate on Annie.

Tuesday 22 August Wilstone to Marsworth and home (1.5 miles, 8 locks)
Today, we took our time taking Annie up the top eight locks of the Aylesbury Arm to Marsworth Junction. Mooring up near the Grand Junction Arms again, we headed homewards in the car.

Wednesday 23 -29 August at home
Our home visit allowed us to visit brother-in-law Ivan, who has had a stroke and is recovering, plus see niece Jo and family. John rang bells several times, including for church and for our neighbours' Gary and Zoe at their wedding. Congratulations! Liana's friend Amanda and surrogate grandson Alby visited. We visited friends Helen and Kevin to see them and dad Bob for tea, scones, etc. Later, we enjoyed our neighbours' company at Scott and Carrie's BBQ, too. Brother Phillip and Jackie visited for Sunday lunch and a nice afternoon together. Finally, we saw friends Karen and Andrew, and had haircuts, too. Together with grass cutting, weeding and tidying, we had a busy time!