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And so back to Braunston

Another peaceful night’s sleep before early morning coffee and then up and ready for our voyage back to the marina at Braunston. That was as exciting as it got, the weather had turned drizzly again but not so heavy as to make the trip an unpleasant one. The steerer was kept fortified with bacon sandwiches and tea being passed out from the galley by the Chief Steward, she certainly knows how to keep the crew motivated! There were a lot of boats on the move including a widebeam dutch barge that we met near bridge 107, it was absolutely massive thankfully we didn’t meet it at the bridge! The only other bit of excitement came when a dog being walked along the towpath decided to rejoin its owner on his narrowboat by jumping in and swimming over to it. A heartstopping moment for everyone (except Sue of course, who is now bionic in that respect!) as the steerer was trying to position himself near a bridge to let an oncoming boat through. It all worked out in the end with the mutt being dragged out of the cut by the scruff of his neck.

It has been the weekend of the Crick boat show and once again it seems to have had terrible weather. I have looked back through the blog to check out the weather on the spring bank holiday weekends.
2008 High winds and heavy rain, Crick show cancelled for 2 out of 3 days.
2009 Sunny and Warm
2010 No record
2011 No record, boat in paintshop
2012 Queens Diamond Jubilee, heavy rain
2013 Sunny
2014 Two days rain, one day of sun

Maybe the Crick show organisers should consider moving the show to a later date or perhaps as a nation we should move the Bank Holiday?

Birthday lunch at the Wheatsheaf in Crick

After a late night and a deep sleep, we hauled ourselves out of bed this morning and prepared for the short hop to Crick. We took the opportunity to dump rubbish and take on water near bridge 19 at Yelvertoft and then we were on our way again, braving the cold gusty wind along the way. We passed nb Cyprinus Carpio again between Yelvertoft and Crick but the same as last week there was no sign of its owner Lee, probably too early in the morning for him!

An hour after setting off we were mooring again, this time opposite Crick marina. We took a look at ‘The Moorings’ restaurant/cafe/shop before walking into the village itself and after a quick stop at the Co-op we went into the Wheatsheaf on the opposite side of the road. May 11th is Sue’s birthday and that gave us cause to celebrate so we enjoyed a bottle of wine with our delicious two course lunch. After a couple of hours spent relaxing in the Wheatsheaf we wandered back to the canal. We had already decided to move on a bit so we untied and headed for the tunnel as soon as we got back to the boat. We reached Watford locks around four-ish and after passing through the top lock, waited for the lock keepers to bring four boats up the flight. Our timing was perfect, while we sat inside with a cup of coffee each, the heavens opened and dumped rain and hail on everyone in the area. The sun came out as the last of the four boats passed out of the staircase part of the flight and we made our way down in relatively pleasant conditions. We cleared the bottom lock with a little help from the lock keepers and the crew of the next boat which was ready to ascend the flight.

We tied up for the evening outside Weltonfield Narrowboats and thus avoided the heavy rain that arrived half an hour later. With the fire lit our boat was cosy again and we settled down for the evening on this the last night of our holiday. We have left ourselves with just the tunnel and locks at Braunston to complete our journey so unless anything out of the ordinary happens, this blog entry will be the last for this trip.

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.