Sunday, 21 August 2016

Where did summer go?

Saturday 20th August;  Norton Junction to bridge 37, Leicester Section

We woke up late again – it’s much quieter on the Leicester section of the Grand Union!  Away by 9.30, we arrived at Watford Locks in an hour or so.  One boat was waiting and three coming down, with two waiting in the pounds, so we had time for a brew but not much else before we were on our way.  It was getting quite windy, so Dave waited in the second lock till I had opened the bottom gates of the staircase to avoid getting blown over to the side pond.  We had an easy passage up the flight.  Here is Dave in the first lock of the staircase ….

1 bottom of watford staircase

and the middle.

3 middle of staircase

There are two paddles at each of the staircase locks.  The rule is ‘Red before white, you’ll be all right’.  This is what happens in the side pond when you open the white paddle.

2 white paddle open

It opens the culvert from the lock to the side pond.  The red paddle takes water from the side pond to start filling the lock, and thus leaves room in the side pond to take the water from the lock when you open the white paddle. Open the white paddle first, and the side pond spills water over the overflow, wasting water and with the possibility of a breach putting neighbouring properties at risk.The system is principally for water saving.

We cleared the flight by midday and were glad we weren't in the queue of seven waiting in the roar of the M1.  On the way to Crick tunnel we passed a bridge with a shape of rope rollers we have not seen before.

4 rope roller between watford and crick

Odd colour.  Crick tunnel was dry till the last 400 yards, when it was very wet, with flowstone deposits running with water all down the walls.  Soon after rounding Crack’s Hill we were lucky to see a pair of working sheepdogs in action, though it was impossible to get them both in shot at the same time;

6 working sheepdog

There are a lot of wind turbines in this area, all working hard today.  Here is the one near Yelvertoft marina.  You can see from the weeping willow by the canal  how windy it was – luckily it was mostly from behind us.

8 yelvertoft wind turbine

We moored before Yelvertoft for lunch, just round a bend to be out of the wind which by now was very strong.  We walked down to the village for provisions, but found that the post office stores had closed at 12.30.  There was a notice in the window warning the locals that the post office couldn’t survive unless enough people used the shop as well and it sounds very much a case of ‘use it or lose it’.  We went on to Squisito’s, the deli, which is open on Saturday and Sunday but not Monday or Tuesday.  We bought some nice but expensive cheese and some free range chicken.  Squisito is Italian for dainty, delicious or exquisite!

As the weather was dry we decided to go on for a few miles to be closer to Husband’s Bosworth for tomorrow, as we will be running out of milk.  We were relieved to have the wind behind us for most of the journey and we were a lot warmer than the people going the other way, who were all bundled up in coats and hoods to keep warm.  There is a lot of Armco piling to choose a mooring spot, but the first bit we tried was too shallow!  We found a nice spot just before bridge 37, reasonably sheltered – we could hear the wind in the trees but were not getting buffeted around.

Dave walked Meg up to the reservoir but was disappointed to find no public access so retraced his steps and went up the canal till he found a footpath which cut off a loop, so they could rejoin the canal and walk back.

13 and a half miles, 6 locks

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