Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th February; Calcutt marina to Marston Doles
Not the most wonderful cruising weather …. we drove up yesterday, leaving the sunshine behind at Bristol. Calcutt was cold and grey (though with the usual warm welcome in the office). Dave’s first and most important task was to refit the Mikuni heater which he brought home after our last cruise for a clean-up. With a new mantle and thoroughly de-coked it sprang into life and with the fire lit too the boat soon warmed up.
It was jolly cold last night but no frost this morning as we set off for our first cruise of the year. By 9.30 we were approaching our first lock – whichever way you go from Calcutt you will reach a lock pretty soon but this one is just above the marina entrance.
Meg hopped off as soon as she could, happy to be pottering around as I worked the locks. Plan A had been to top up the water above the locks, as the water supply to the pontoons in the marina is turned off till next month. Although there is a tap under a manhole cover at the end of each mooring bay, our hose isn’t long enough to reach it. Anyway, the first boat we saw on the move happened to be slipping onto the water point as we came up the top lock! No problem really, we just went on towards Napton past the forlorn Bridge Inn which has been closed for a while.
It’s such a shame. We’ve had some good meals there in the past. I suppose it’s quite hard to survive when the King’s Arms up the road is so much closer to the village.
We watered up at Napton, though we didn’t fill the tank as we are only out for a few days and we’d only have to drain most of it out again if we fill it right up. Then off up the locks, with Meg ecstatically belting up and down as I lockwheeled. The work soon warmed me up in spite of the icy wind but Dave was grateful for his big jacket.
We wondered about an early lunch stop at Shut Bridge, where the moorings were empty, but decided to carry on for a while. In spite of the cold and overcast sky it was still great to be out in the countryside.
The water buffalo were nowhere to be seen on the way up – perhaps they go indoors for the winter – but we saw our first canal lambs of the season.
We pulled in above Napton Adkins lock for lunch. We didn’t stop for long and carried on to Marston Doles where this is painted on a wall by one of the locks; it says ‘Gaz Moorhouse RIP Shardlow’ so we presume he was a boater.
The visitor moorings above the top lock are designated winter moorings, and although there was just room for us on the end we went on to the stretch of piling on the way to Prior’s Hardwick, out in the country and quiet away from the road. And we saw our third moving boat of the day. Busy!
At the back end of last season, the wooden panel that was glued to the underside of the sliding hatch had rotted and was coming off. Dave had prepared a replacement at home but didn’t have the right glue when we came up last time, so got that done as soon as we had stopped. No photos – I was too busy lighting the fire and getting the kettle on.
12 locks, 5 miles