Friday, 6 October 2017

19-30 September Cruising the Lee and Stort

Sept 19-23 Away from Annie
We popped home to see John's sister, Liz and Mike, as she has a serious operation pending. We also saw friends and other family, having a lovely day in Leicester, where we left the car, on our way back to the boat. We found that there are TWO St Margarets train stations in the London area, however: Oops!

Sunday 24 September St Margarets Stanstead to Hertford (4 locks, 4.5 miles)
Up late after arriving at Annie on the last train at 11.30pm last night! Tootled along through Ware to East Hertford. John winded Annie and backed her up to the head of navigation, where 15' craft turn, which surprised onlookers! We moored by the scenic riverside cottages, by impressive allotments and very close to the town centre for East Hertford. It was a pleasant adjunct to the main town, with some nice buildings and quality shops.
Monday 25 September Hertford to Ware (2 locks, 2 miles)
The weather forecast promised a glorious day, so we walked around Hertford and had a coffee before setting off. The first lock was slow, as one paddle was broken. Liana walked along the riverside walk the 1 ¼ miles to the Hardmead Lock at Ware in the sun, spotting two dead rats on the way. This is EA maintained, as it part of their flood defence mechanism. We decided to moor on a short 40' visitor mooring next to several trip boats. Walking into town, we saw St Mary the Virgin church just as it started to rain. John lit candles for ill relatives Liz and Ivan. A gentleman explained to us about the pictures and stained glass in the style of Morris. After visiting several charity shops, we decided to stay, as the weather was worsening.

Tuesday 26 September Ware down the Lee and up the Stort to above Harlow Lock (10 locks, 11 miles 3004 Engine hours)
The upper reaches of the Lee are wide and quite pretty. Reaching Feilde Lock, we turned up the Stort and passed a large lake with a lock and marina, by Brick Lock, with loads of boats, none moving. We motored gently in the sun, finding it much narrower, very rural, quite twisty and pretty, like many a midland canal. Harlow could barely be glimpsed through the trees as we passed by. We moored ¾ mile above Harlow Lock, with pins in countryside as far from the railway as we could.

Wednesday 27 September ¾ mile above Harlow Lock to Bishop Stortford (7 locks, 7 miles, 3008 Eh)
Another lovely day saw us travelling up river. We saw canoes near Sheering Mill Lock. The river is very scenic hereabouts. We were clearly following a boat, as all the locks were set against us – hi ho, so we relaxed and enjoyed the trip, taking our time.
John left his aluminium windlass, found many years ago on a lock balance beam in Stoke, and didn't realise for a couple of locks. We live in hope! This cast a cloud, too, as the sky darkened and we approached Bishop Stortford. John picked up plastic on the propeller as he turned Annie in the shallow winding hole at the head of navigation, where we moored to have a look at the town near the other boaters on NB Rainbows End. It is pleasant enough, with plenty of charity shops to peruse. Surrounded by modern flats, tv reception was so so.

Thursday 28 September Bishop Stortford down the Stort to Lower Lock (17 locks, 14 miles,162 litres @ 69p, 3015Eh)
After a wet night we set off at 7.15 and visited the services. Rainbows End had clearly departed the night before after a quick turn round, so we had to close bottom gates and fill each lock, in the Lee Valley way … it became waterproofs and shower dodging down the first six locks. Then we passed Rainbows End and asked them if they'd found a windlass: “Yes!”, they replied. John was very grateful, as he and it have done loads of locks together! Our luck had changed, the next two locks were set for us, and the sun shone. The trip boats had gone out from above Burnt Mill Lock, so then locks were against us until we met them returning. We ate sandwiches on the go as it turned into a beautiful afternoon. After 14 locks, we entered Royston Village Marina through its own lock, crossed the large lake and filled up with diesel at 69p at the marina services. After a coffee at their cafe and a tour of the lake, we continued to below the last lock, Lower Lock, below which we moored. Apart from a weed boat and the trip boats, no other boat was moving on the Stort until three residential boats headed up later: Had the enforcement officer been about?

Friday 29 September Lower Lock, River Stort to Lee Valley White Water Centre (6 locks, 6 miles)

Saturday 30 September Lee Valley White Water Centre to Limehouse Basin (8 locks, 14 miles)

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