Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Over the Chilterns and Down the other side

I'm sorry that we have not updated the blog for a week.  This has been due to visitors, problems with the internet and areas with no signal.  But here we are again.  It seems such a long time since we were in London and now we are well North of the M25 in deepest Herts and Bucks.

Leaving Islington and climbing the Camden Locks we came across a chap called Dave with a gearbox that was not working.  We tied our boats together and helped him up the top two locks.

Ian and Dave in Camden Top Lock
 We left Dave on the visitor moorings waiting for his mate on a wide beam boat below the locks.  Through Little Venice the canal was covered with duckweed which CRT were trying to clear.  The canal looked like a lawn:

This is Leo approaching the Maida Hill Tunnel.

And here is a CRT boat fighting a losing battle in clearing the weed.

 On Thursday evening we moored in Southall near where we had moored on our way into London and on Friday we reached Bulls Bridge and the junction with the main line of the Grand Union.  From here we turned North and soon Leo was on new waters once we had passed the junction with the Slough Branch.  Here are a few sights from our journey up the Grand Union:

This is Cowley Lock, our first one since the Regent's Canal some 20 miles before.

This huge and intimidating sight was a floating classroom filling most of the canal as it made its way slowly towards us.  Needless to say we scurried out of the way!

Well we'd never seen anything like this before.  It is an old barge converted to form a floating dry dock with a narrowboat inside.

We moored on Friday evening just above Black Jack's Lock and on the Mill by the lock was this representation.  Apparently Black Jack (short for 'blackguard Jack') was a bad tempered farmhand who took out his temper on his poor donkey.

On Saturday we continued up more locks as we started the climb into the Chilterns.  This waterfall is otherwise known as Springwell Lock.

Here is a boater who obviously has a liking for old bikes.  Or perhaps he is a junk dealer?

And here are five ducks all lined up to peck off the weed growing on Leo's hull.  We wish they were more effective about this, but on the other hand being woken early in the morning by the sound of pecking on the hull is not too good.

On Saturday we were delighted to see David and Victoria who we've not seen for ages as they have been in the North and we have been way South.  They travelled with us for a few locks on Sunday too.

David at the helm of Leo with Victoria looking relaxed and happy too.

David made this tiller pin for us and so it had to come out to play for their visit to us.  The pin is of a lion with a ball held in its front right paw.

The locks become more and more frequent as the canal climbs to the summit at Tring.  Monday and Tuesday we pressed on through the locks with some diversions along the way:

There are apparently only three swing bridges on the Grand Union and this was the first we met at Winkwell.

We filled up with diesel on Monday from 'Towcester' a fuel boat which was travelling with its butty.

Here we are approaching Top Side Lock on the way to Berkhamsted.  Ian was amused that 'Sewer Lock' was followed by 'Bottom Side Lock' but then he has that strange sense of humour.

We were surprised how extensive are the ruins of the castle at Berkhamsted.  As well as the stone walls there are two enclosing ramparts of earth with moats between. The town was pretty too.

Once upon a time Berkhamsted was a canal port and the town, unlike some others we could mention, really makes the best of its canal which passes through the middle of town.

Here we are sharing locks with a boat called Georgiana.  The picture is of Dudswell Bottom Lock.

And here we've reached Cowroast Lock, which takes the canal to its summit level at about 390 feet above sea level.

We've seen quite a few Kingfishers this summer and two were flying repeatedly past us as we cruised along the cutting past Tring station.  This was the best picture we managed to take.  I think we should have used a faster shutter speed.

Once through the cutting at Tring you come to Bulbourne which marks both the start of the locks down the other side and also the junction with the Wendover Arm.  The Arm was built to bring water to the summit level of the canal and is presently navigable for a mile and a half of the six miles to Wendover.  However a restoration society are making real attempts to make the rest navigable too.  We moored at the end in the lovely tranquil place with a few other boats and cycled the rest of the way into Wendover:

Here we are approaching Bulbourne Junction with the Wendover Arm going left under the bridge you can see.

This conveys the peaceful nature of  the Arm.  It is narrow and twisty but, apart from the flour mill at Tring, it is lovely and green and quiet.

Here we are approaching the end of the Arm.  At this corner is the winding hole. We moored for the night just on the right having turned round.

This gives an idea of the work that is going on to extend the navigable part of the Arm.  Waterproof membrane is covered with blocks and you can see the shape of the canal.

Further towards Wendover the canal was full of water, but mostly not deep enough to allow navigation even if you could get your boat there.

This is the very end of the Arm and springs give a flow of water into the end of this section which still go to top up the summit level of the Grand Union.

Today we've come down 13 locks from the top and we're moored just below Ivinghoe locks.  We can see the Chilterns and Ivinghoe Beacon from the windows.

Leo is waiting beside the Bulbourne Dry Dock for the first lock of the Marsworth flight to fill with water to start our descent from the Chilterns.  We came down the first seven locks with a boat called Isabella Grace.

This is part way down the flight waiting for a boat coming up.

This must be the second swing bridge at Pitstone.  This one was opened by Helen Power.  The previous one was electric.

The Grand Union was built with an eye to expansion.  This bridge and others too was built with a second arch with the intention at a later date of adding another lock parallel with the existing one.  Sadly this never happened which is a shame as the extra one would clearly have been a narrow one which makes life easier for Leo.

Leo is moored below Ivinghoe locks and you can just make out the Chilterns behind us.

So that brings you up to date.  As for the future we've decided to make the maximum use of our Gold Licence and to cruise the East Anglia waterways enjoying the extra bits that we have not travelled with David and Victoria when their boat was moored at Ely and Huntingdon.  So we plan to continue up the Grand Union to Gayton Junction and then go down the Northampton Arm onto the River Nene.  When we eventually return to the canal system a month or so later we will look to find a marina for Leo near Northampton for the winter. 

1 comment:

  1. The boat in the floating dry dock looks like No Problem,


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