Sunday 12th February; Marston Doles to Calcutt Marina
Another dismal, freezing and sleety day. We have stuff to do at home in the week and had to get back to the marina today so, fully clad in thermals and multiple layers, off we went. In spite of my little mishap with the spinning windlass yesterday, we like the Napton flight; the locks are gentle enough on the way up as long as you get the bow right forward before opening the paddles, they are reasonably quick (unless a paddle is out, which was the case for two of the locks) and the offside bottom gates are amenable to being opened from the towpath side by pushing with one foot as you stand on the footboard of the other; even someone of my height can do it, although I have to position carefully and hold on tight to the handrail. And when it’s dry and I’m not wearing full wet-weather gear, I can take a step across the gap when closing up. I don’t jump – if I can’t get my hands on the handrail straight away as my trailing foot leaves the other gate I don’t do it. I certainly don’t do it if there are children around but we haven’t seen any gongoozlers or young holidaymakers this trip! And if I’ve got wet-weather trousers on it’s too restricting and feels unsafe, so today there was a lot of extra walking.
On the towpath I met a lady I have seen before in this area. She runs with her dogs and likes to do 20 miles on a Sunday. She has three collie-types and though the oldest one, who is 14, has to be dropped off at home after 12 miles, the others do the full distance with her. Impressive, as she is of rather mature years, especially in this weather.
I didn’t get particularly cold this morning because of the lock work, but poor Dave did. We were able to moor above the bottom Napton lock, but only just – four boats were already there. We quickly removed a few layers and changed into something a little less muddy and were in the Folly at midday.
What a wonderful sight! We had a lovely roast lunch and if we hadn’t had commitments next week we would have had a drink or two and stayed for the afternoon’s live music – but as we were were still cruising it was just orange juice and a pot of tea. We haven’t been in the Folly for some years and I was rather taken aback to meet Venus in the Ladies’ loo.
She presumably goes out into the garden in the summer!
We gritted our teeth, got togged up again and were on our way by 2. Moored nearby was Norma Jeane, who we had passed on the way to Fenny the other day. Dave had a quick chat with Stuart who popped out as he passed. I got a snap of their eye-catching artwork as I walked up to the lock.
We stopped at the services to empty the cassettes and do the rubbish – a great deal more convenient than using the marina facilities which on our mooring means dragging your trolley for over a quarter of a mile. By the time we were on our way, three boats had gone up the bottom lock, including a hire boat and a share, the crew of both with big grins and clearly enjoying themselves in spite of the dire weather. We passed another two boats as we cruised to Napton Junction, though they were rather less cheerful as the wind was blowing the icy rain right into their faces.
Last year we reported a section of collapsing towpath with holes to catch the unwary. CRT have fenced it off, but I wonder how long it will be before anything gets done. The path behind it has rather a steep camber I seem to remember.
Calcutt locks took a while to get down – the boat in front was leaving a bottom gate open, which was annoying, but to my relief they shut up the bottom lock when they saw us coming down behind them. Even though it was still before 4 the light was going and I hate locking in poor light. The wind had got up by now and was whipping across the marina – there was already a boat trying to moor which had been blown broadside across the end of their pontoon and the same happened to us. We got off again with some difficulty and went in bow first. While we still had our wet-weather gear on we removed the mooring ropes and tied up using the centre lines. We will take the mooring lines home to wash – they are green with algae and full of grit. As are the centre ropes of course, and we’ll do them next time.
10 locks, 4 miles