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Braunston to Yelvertoft

We travelled to Braunston yesterday and spent the night in the marina, ready for the start of our holiday. We awoke just after six and had an early morning cup of coffee before I nipped off to the shop to pick up some last minute necessary items. Returning at half past seven, we made our final preparations including having a light breakfast before untying Phoenix III from her mooring.

The wind was still blowing across the marina as it had been last night but we used it to good effect as we nosed gently out from between the pontoons and then let mother nature steer us in the direction of the locks. We chugged slowly through the marina before emerging on to the canal and again the wind helped us as we began our journey proper. There wasn’t much happening as we passed the hire fleet at the bottom lock and so we ascended the first lock on our own. It was the same at the second lock but as the water raised Phoenix III in the chamber, another boat approached from above. Leaving that lock, we caught up with a hire boat as we neared lock number three at the Admiral Nelson pub. The crew of Canal Club “The Mad Hatter” were friendly enough if a little inexperienced and we soon found ourselves in the top lock and it wasn’t even ten o’clock. As we reached the northern portal of Braunston tunnel we met two boats emerging from the darkness that we were about to plunge into. We met another two shortly before we left the other end of the tunnel where we found ourselves under blue skies and high white clouds.

We reached Norton junction and turned left on to the Leicester section of the Grand Union about half an hour after leaving Braunston tunnel. Another half an hour or so brought us to the bottom of the flight of locks at Watford and after consulting with the lock keeper there, we knew that we were in for a bit of a wait. The first part of that wait was soon over and we entered the bottom lock after the first of the oncoming boats finished their descent. We had to wait between locks for another four narrowboats to pass through before we were able to start our climb up the hill properly. Once in the staircase, the ascent was fairly quick but as we left the last lock it started to rain. The rain turned to hail and it was all driven by a very fierce wind but we ploughed on and soon reached Crick tunnel. It had actually stopped by the time we reached the mouth of the tunnel but nevertheless it was comforting to be in there and sheltered from the elements for a while. By the time we left the tunnel behind it was back to blue skies again and within a few minutes were moored near Crick marina.

After all of the usual things that need to be done after tying the boat up, we left Phoenix III and walked into Crick itself. It was 2.30 and The Red Lion was just closing as we passed by on our way to the Wheatsheaf where we had fish and chips for lunch – very nice. There is a beer and music festival on there over the bank holiday weekend and so after we had eaten we spent a short while listening to the music of the band, “Indian Joe”.

We left the Wheatsheaf and returned to the canal and then decided to move on a bit further. The Leicester summit is a pretty desolate place but our journey was not without incident, we managed to re-float Braidbar No. 62 with our bow wave as we passed after she had become grounded in the shallows and we encountered a “learner” who ended up at 45 degrees across the canal because he thought there wasn’t enough room between us and some moored boats.

An hour after leaving Crick we moored beyond bridge 20 near Yelvertoft. It was still very windy but it was a nice place to stay for the evening.