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The final day dawned so we got up and got ready for half past eight. With thirteen locks in six miles we reckoned on a four or four and a half hour trip. We weren’t in a hurry to go but there was no point in delaying our departure either. Two boats had recently left the bottom lock so we found that chamber almost empty when we reached it. We worked up through the flight on our own, there were a couple of boats somewhere behind us but we didn’t meet anything coming down until the fifth lock. The sixth was in our favour and as we approached the top lock we could see that there was some activity there. We waited until the two boats in the lock left and then we used it, this the last of the uphill locks. As we left the lock, we saw a boat from the Ashby hire fleet pull away from the bank. He was almost out of sight by the time we reached Norton junction and within a few more minutes he was gone.

We reached Braunston tunnel half an hour later, switched the headlight on and slipped into the darkness. Immediately, we could see the headlight of an oncoming boat which would actually be the first of six that we would meet in the tunnel! There is easily enough space for two narrowboats to pass in the tunnel, unless that is, you meet them at that little kink of an ‘S’ bend that we all know and love! Naturally enough we met that first boat right at the point where the tunnel bends, where else could it have been? As usual it was a relief to get back into the daylight particularly since the tunnel traffic had been so heavy.

We joined the Ashby boat just above the top lock as they waited for a pair of boats to rise through the lock. The crew turned out to be a German couple who didn’t seem to be getting on with each other too well. They didn’t speak much english, either that or they just didn’t want to converse with us. As we worked the lock we could see that there were two boats in the pound below, heading down and two boats in the next lock coming up. With a volunteer lock keeper on the bank and the crew on one of the boats in the pound more interested in polishing their brasses than moving the boat, it looked like we had all the ingredients for a farcical end to our holiday.

With a steady stream of boats ascending, our passage down was relatively smooth but our German companions gave us a few laughs. As soon as the bottom gates were open on every lock, he was off at full speed, presumably he felt that since had arrived at the top lock first, he should remain in front to the bottom. This suited us because we watched him hit wall after wall, bank after bank all the way down the flight. Better to have someone like that in front of you where you can see them than behind you. At the bottom lock Der Kapitan picked up his wife and zoomed off down the cut, we followed on tickover leaving one gate open for an upcoming boat that was waiting for us to leave. This lock is number 1 of the old Grand Junction canal, we had been as far as number 86, Wide water lock. A few minutes later and we were passing under Butcher’s Bridge, again with the number 1, we had been as far as number 180. Our journey had taken us almost 79 miles away from Braunston, marked along the way by the black GJCCo signs, so it is fitting that our journey ended with this one, just inside the marina itself.


We shuffled our way into the berth and then had a light lunch before we packed up and cleared out the things that we needed to take home. Our long trip was over, the final one of the year, a bit of a slog in places but the weather was good. The boat worked perfectly well, we moored in all of the places that we wanted to and we had some laughs along the way.