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Overnight at Hunton Bridge

We had a relatively late start to the first day of our return journey and didn’t set off until half past ten. Not that we were idle, Sue did the washing and made a great cooked breakfast, one that we ate out on the back deck. I didn’t do too much beyond the daily checks and chores along with a couple of minor bits of maintenance.

The journey back is easily marked since this was originally the Grand Junction canal so the mileposts count the distance to Braunston and the locks decrease in number with number one being Braunston bottom lock. We stopped for water and emptied the bin below Copper Mill lock and then made our way back to Batchworth lock where we stopped for a short while at Tesco for a couple of bits before emptying the toilet at the sanitary station just below the lock. We had met a grey haired couple who seemed a little eccentric as they boated in the opposite direction to us and they warned us of low water levels ahead. It wasn’t until we exited lock 80 that we saw just how low the pound was there. I have no idea what had caused the problem because the level was restored once we had climbed into the next pound. Entry into Common Moor lock (79) was very difficult but Sue did a sterling job and we avoided having to run some water into the pound. Nevertheless it made the lock so deep that it was difficult to secure the boat with the centre rope so we had to take our time and fill it very carefully.

Once back in water of a normal level we progressed well enough and at Iron bridge lock we caught up with a fibreglass cruiser. It was the owners first boat, a project he said, but a narrowboat was what he wanted next. With his two friends for company we worked up through the next three locks. We explained to them the best order in which to open paddles so that the boats would not moved around in the lock too much. His ‘project’ is in the early stages and we didn’t want to damage it by banging it in the lock, Phoenix III at fifty two feet is by no means a large boat but it would make short work of a small ‘glass cruiser if it got out of control when the water rushed in to the chamber.

We parted company after Cassiobury park and wished him luck with his project. At this stage we were leaving the area depicted in both the Pearson and Nicholson guides as having vast expanses of water to the west of the canal. This has been a bit of a disappointment to us because except for the odd glimpse of water, these flooded gravel pits are well hidden by woodland. In fact the only visible landmark is the giant sewage works and believe me you don’t need to see it to know that it is there.

We made our way through some more locks until we moored near bridge 162 at Hunton Bridge. We had stopped here briefly for lunch a couple of days ago and although it is near a main road, it seems like a good place to stay the night. Once again we have had to hammer pins into the ground but that is to be expected since the banks on this canal were lined with concrete many years ago so we don’t have the easy and more modern way of mooring using piling pins.