Saturday, 20 August 2016

Hot Calcutt, wet Braunston and an excellent boat name

Thursday 18th and Friday 19th August; Calcutt to Norton Junction

We arrived at Calcutt on a hot and sultry afternoon and left the marina at 5 o’clock.  The locks were hard work in the heat, and once we reached Napton junction the canal was very busy, but by 7 we had moored with no trouble at Flecknoe, which was surprisingly empty.  Along the way we saw steam narrowboat Emily Anne

1 steam boat emily ann

and a boat with an unusual garden!  The owner has to put the sunflowers in the cratch when she travels.

2 sunflowers

Combine harvesters were working hard until well after dark – they must have heard the weather forecast!

3 miles, 3 locks on Thursday.

On Friday boats started passing at 6.  We were in no hurry to get up, knowing we couldn’t get much further than Norton Junction today. Watford locks are closed while a new balance beam is fitted to lock 3.  So we stayed in bed, dozing and listening to the boats going by in the rain.  There were several Napton and Calcutt hireboats moored nearby yesterday so we guessed a good proportion of the early risers were going back to base.

We didn’t leave till after 10.  It rained on and off and was misty too, so there were no views to photograph.  We passed this spot which used to be an offside private mooring – I wonder how long before Floyd goes the way of Pink?

1 overgrown mooring

At Wolfhamcote we were amused by this sign just past a private mooring.

2 sign by mooring

Further on was a boat with an unhappy bow fender and a rather more cheerful one at the stern.

3 sad fender  4 happy fender

At Braunston we made a quick stop at the elsan point, which fortunately was working today.  It has been blocked a few times recently, and CRT have put up a notice now …

5 braunston elsan notice

Perhaps the items listed are what have been extracted from it in the past?  We managed to find a space just big enough for us outside the marina, and had just tied up when the heavens opened.  So we had a cup of tea and waited for the rain to stop before I went up the hill to the village and Dave went back along the towpath to the chandlery.  It poured again while we were having lunch.  We set off again just after 2, congratulating ourselves that we had missed the worst of the weather.  Idiots. 

Only the first lock was empty.  There was a cruiser in front of us and we soon caught them up – they had only had the boat for three weeks and this was their second trip.  So they were still finding their feet as far as lock operation went, and having to do it in pouring rain too.  Their cruiser was in a bit of a state – dodgy ropes, and the engine cut out in the third lock.  I helped them pull forward onto the lock landing so that we could come up.  The farmers are clearly still harvesting in spite of the rain – those grain dryers will be going flat out today I would think.

6 grain trailer in the rain

The couple on the cruiser had got their engine going again by the time we were up the lock, but kindly waved us past.  At the next lock the top gates were open and the pound above was extremely low.  The cruiser crew had said that all the top gates had been left open, and water had been pouring over the bottom gates of the locks, which probably explains the low water level.  Dave couldn’t get anywhere near the edge until I had emptied the next lock.  As we ascended, a chap cycled down from the top lock to tell us a breasted pair was coming down, so we warned him of the low pound.  The boats coming down were deep-draughted, so he went on to warn the cruiser to stay well to the side.  Here is Dave keeping out of their way in the top pound.

7 thor and companion braunston flight

Just below the top lock was an interesting sight.  Someone going commando maybe?

8 someones going commando

In Braunston tunnel the headlamp was used for the first time since Dave replaced the bracket on our last trip, so I had to go up to adjust it – which was difficult as the tunnel appeared to be full of fog.  The fog gradually thinned as we neared the other end, but mysteriously every time I looked back towards the tunnel entrance the air was totally clear.

Once we were through the tunnel we found the rain had stopped completely, but my shorts and socks were wet so I began to get quite cold, though as we expected to be moored up before the junction I didn’t bother to get changed.  This boat was very inconsiderately moored with both ropes right across the towpath.

9 stuipd mooring

Just behind it the bank was fenced off all the way to the junction, just where we had hoped to moor.  The bank was collapsing.  So we rounded the junction and moored a few hundred yards along the Leicester Line.

In Braunston we passed a boat with an excellent name – Sloth of Uck Down.  I said, Sloth, that’s a good name for a narrowboat.  I wonder where Uck Down is? Then Dave laughed and said the name out loud – appropriate too, but in an entirely different way!  I was too slow to get a photo but it’s one for Gary (NB Inca) to look out for!

6 locks, 7 miles

Along with many other bloggers we are sad to hear the news that Elaine (formerly of nb Caxton, aka the Manley Ferry) has passed away.  We send our heartfelt condolences and best wishes to Paul and both families.

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