Monday, 30 June 2014

On to the end of the Lee navigation

Friday 27th June
In spite of the odd shower it was hot again all day.  The pub, though the food was poor, had a lovely setting; if it had been warmer last night we would have sat outside and enjoyed this lovely view.
1 lee above dobbs weir
Having finally found a water point yesterday we  found another almost straight away just below Feilde’s lock – on the lock mooring.  They are not really well placed around here!  although it has hardly been busy (apart from the moorings) with very few boats on the move.  There was an elsan point as well, so we emptied/topped right up.
Above Feilde’s lock is the mouth of the Stort.  We had already decided not to go up the Stort as we don’t have enough time on this trip.  By speaking to other boaters, we know that the Stort is beautiful, much like a winding canal with reedy edges so not a lot of mooring, but it’ll have to wait for the future.
13 stort mouth
Stort mouth was followed by an industrialised area until we got to Stanstead Lock.  As with most of the locks on the Lee so far, it was against us and with a widebeam ahead both gates were open.  At least they had left the swing bridge open – it swings across the lock and carries a small road from a private mooring area.  As we filled the lock, a chap drove up from the moorings, clearly well used to it, and kindly dealt with the bridge for himself as we left the lock.  The woman waving is from the boat waiting to come down.
4 closing swing bridge over stanstead lock  5 crossing the lock
The banks have suddenly changed to be more like ‘normal’ river banks, which is reedy and weedy with few mooring opportunities.  There were a few spots, taken of course, and one likely area which was too shallow to get in when we tried it for a lunch stop.  Meg needed to get off so we moored before Ware on chains down by the water level – not the easiest! Of course after we’d had lunch we found lovely moorings closer to the bridge.
When we entered Ware lock, a narrowboat appeared at the top and immediately came to offer help – the gates on the Lee are mostly very heavy.  I may not be being fair here, but we have only been helped on the Lee by fellow-boaters from the narrow canals.  Lee-ites, though very friendly to speak to, will happily leave the gates open (as is normal practice in these parts) even when they can see someone is coming up behind them.  This has happened a couple of times, and with widebeams, so that means both top gates have to be closed!  Probability theory says we should have the locks in our favour half the time but it’s not happened yet.  Anyway, thank you Hunter’s Moon!
We had been warned about a sharp left turn on the approach to Hertford Lock, but were still caught out – the sign is so small that by the time you can get close enough to read it you are wrongly placed and have to reverse.  Can you see the sign?  It’s just below the pointy bush to the left of centre.  Until you get this close you can’t see which way the navigation actually goes.
6 oops easy to miss the turn
Hertford lock is a difficult one as the bottom gates leak and you can’t open the top gates unless both paddles are fully open – and one frequently gets stuck and is waiting for repair.  But we got through, continued to the end of the navigation at Folly Bridge and turned in the pretty pool just above it..
8 turning at head of navigation
All the proper visitor moorings were taken but we joined another visitor on rings hung in the wall outside Starbucks and Waitrose.  As there was a damaged storm drain sticking out from the wall we could only use one ring, so we tied up with just the centre rope.  Only one more narrowboat arrived and tied up to some railings nearby with quite a climb to get off.
We went for a stroll round Hertford, which is an attractive place.  On Waitrose’s wall is a fantastic mural, ‘Wallace meets Rousseau’.  It reminded us of the famous Rousseau painting popularly known as ‘Tropical Storm with a Tiger’ and depicts the painter with Alfred Russel Wallace approaching through the jungle.  It was painted to commemorate the centenary of the death of Wallace, who was a naturalist and intrepid explorer, especially in South-east Asia and Indonesia, and arrived at the theory of evolution independently from Darwin, though Darwin published first. This link is to the Natural History Museum’s biography of Wallace:   DSC_0630
We went for a walk round the Castle Gardens which are pretty and well cared for.
9 castle gardens hertford   11 postern gate hertford castle
There is a stone commemorating the first meeting of the General Synod of the English Church in 673AD, which was held nearby.
12 commemorating first general synod 673AD
Then Dave got on with some varnishing while I went for a run, discovering an enormous parkland area on the other side of the river, stretching down to the lock and beyond.  Dave took Meg for a long walk down there later on once it had cooled down a bit.
This is a really quiet place to moor once the shoppers and strollers have gone home – unless it’s a fine Friday night! the clubbers started going by soon after 1 and didn’t all disappear till getting on for 2.  We heard a local householder ask them to be quiet and getting roundly abused so we put up and shut up – if you moor here it’s very easy to step on the roof and we didn’t fancy being jumped on!  Where’s the rain when you need it?
5 locks, 7 miles

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