Saturday 15th April: Flecknoe to Braunston tunnel (east)
Boats started passing at 7.30 but acted merely as a gentle wake-up call. Less welcome was the activity at the farm, where loud clangs and bangs started at 8 am. I wonder if they are still in agriculture or just lorries now? Another time we’ll moor further away. But no matter! We didn’t move till 9.30, as there was no point in trying to stop in Braunston till some boats had moved on. But it is the Easter weekend ….. There were plenty of boats coming our way so we weren’t worried. We soon saw our first ducklings this year. They inconsiderately scattered as we approached, so no photo.
At the Wolfhampcote permanent moorings this poor thing is still languishing; when we passed a couple of years ago there was what looked like a pump nearby but it seems the owner has given up now. I wonder how long before the boat gives up the ghost?
We rounded Braunston Turn to see a line of close-moored boats stretching ahead. A boater told us there were no spaces at all and he was right. But at least we could empty a cassette – couldn’t we? A Calcutt hire boat was taking on water and, as we hovered, invited us to moor alongside, which we gratefully did. Like us, they were hoping to do some shopping, and we agreed if we couldn’t moor we’d go up the locks together. In a major stroke of luck a boat passing as we moved off had just left a mooring, and it was still free – just long enough for us – and our Calcutt companions moored up alongside. Right by the footbridge to the village! So we both got our shopping done.
The view from the bridge
After lunch we set off together to go up the locks. The mum had been on a canal holiday once, but many years before and the dad hadn’t, so they were on a steep learning curve! Fast learners, with two young daughters doing their best on the heavy gates.
There were several boats coming through the tunnel, with various loud bangs echoing through the darkness as they approached. We moored 100 yards or so after the road bridge, just before the end of the piling. Last time we tried to moor at Norton Junction a long stretch of bank was collapsing and fenced off so we had to go some way up the Leicester Arm to find a spot. This time we opted to be sure of a good mooring rather than go to the pub tonight. I went for a run up to the junction later, and yes the red plastic fence was still there. The Calcutt boat family, who were only out for a short break, passed us on their way back to moor closer to the tunnel. They didn’t want to go too far and then have to rush back to base – very sensible.
5 and a half miles, 6 locks, Braunston tunnel
Total this trip; 8 miles, 9 broad locks, 1 tunnel