Wednesday 25th June
We set off around 9 down the 3 locks of the Hertford Union canal, making a brief visit to the little shop at the top lock. We met another boat coming up, so the bottom locks were set. They had started a couple of miles up the Lee and were going all out to get to Uxbridge tonight – we went less far in two days and thought we’d done long days! At the bottom lock is an amazing graffiti wall.
As we turned onto the Lee Navigation we got a view of the Olympic Park with the stadium (currently being altered for West Ham United) and the sculpture the ‘Orbit’.
We had been warned that this section would be weedy and it was! We stuck to the middle but had to stop a few times to remove the ‘moustache’ of greenery from the bow or to put the engine into reverse to clear the prop. I was trying to recognise the Lee from when I was taken as a small child to buy cake for a treat when visiting my grandparents in the early 1950s, but there doesn’t seem to be any building older than 30 or 40 years, though a couple of likely spots offered themselves – one a cluster of tower blocks, the other a row of new terraced houses.
There are an enormous number of moored boats along Hackney Marshes. Some have coot nests in their tyre fenders and others also didn’t look as though they move much! We came up behind a weed-cutter boat which we had seen passing as we came down the bottom Hertford Union lock. It was extremely noisy but as we approached Tottenham Lock it arrived at its mooring (coffee-time) and let us pass. Not a good background for contrast I am afraid.
Above Tottenham lock the weed problem diminished. We continued to Stonebridge where we moored above the lock for lunch – a long way above as there were so many moored craft. We could have stayed there for the rest of the day, but the wind was blowing directly from the chimney of the Edmonton incinerator. They tell us there is nothing toxic in the emissions but we don’t really believe that so on we went.
Tottenham and Stonebridge locks are both paired, with one lock at each being electrically operated. Pickett’s lock is manual (and the enormous Pickett’s Lock Centre is nowhere near the lock, which is quiet). Ponders End again has one of each, and Enfield, where there is only one lock, had manual top gates and manual bottom paddles, but the bottom gates were opened electrically. So I had to carry the sanitary station key and windlasses to every lock as we had no idea what was coming up. There are miles of pylons along some of this lower stretch of the Lee.
We moored a few hundred yards above Enfield lock in a quiet area by Ramney Marsh, which isn’t at all marshy but is a large mown field and a larger area of rough grass with mown paths. We walked back down to the lock as there is a Tesco Express in the ex Ordnance factory on the other side. This is where the Lee Enfield rifle and other small arms were made. It is being redeveloped into offices, housing and other businesses. It’s been another mostly hot day, but once again there was a shower in the evening.
10 miles 8 locks