Sunday, 23 March 2008

Spring Cruise - Part One

Day 1 - Friday March 14

We arrived at Stockton Top in early afternoon, in unexpected warm spring sunshine. Debdale was on the front of the marina (with two boats outside her), making loading very easy. She was also, unusually, pointing in the right direction. When we were ready to leave, we asked a couple of the OwnerShips helpers to hold the centre line of the boat outside us, while we reversed out into the middle of the canal and set off.

We hadn't been going long when we spotted the Norwegians, Bente and Pal, on their Black Prince boat. The Calcutt Locks were shared with a Kate Boat out for the weekend, and heading for the South Oxford. At this point, we discovered there was no coal on board, so we made a quick diversion into Wigram's Turn Marina to buy a bag. Then it was a right turn onto the shared Oxford/Grand Union section. The sun had gone in and drizzle had started by the time we moored for the night in a now customary spot, just before Bridge 101.

6 miles, 3 locks.

Day 2 - Saturday 15 March

There was rain overnight, but it was dry if murky by the time we set off at about 8.45. After the Braunston Turn, at lot of work has been done on the hedges on the towpath side. They've been skillfully and beautifully laid. They're also about a third of their old height, which means that by the long term moorers, the road is far more visible and intrusive than it use to be.

We stopped at the water point by the Stop House, and while Adrian filled the tank I walked up to the village to buy meat for the next few days from the butcher. Then it was up the six locks in the company of another Kate Boat, who were planning to go only as far as Norton Junction before turning.
At the top of the locks, I spotted the bloggers One Way of Life. When we came back later in the week, the boat was moored down in Braunston.

We turned left at Norton Junction onto the Leicester Line, stopping just past Bridge 2 for lunch. Then it was on to Watford Locks. A couple of boats had just come down, so we were allowed straight up with everything set in our favour.

Halfway up the staircase, the rain started. We continued getting wet through Crick Tunnel.

We moored for the night opposite Crick Marina, on what are technically winter moorings (although there's a sign saying they don't mind people staying overnight if there's room. And there was plenty of room). Adrian and I walked up to the village shop before settling down for the evening as the rain came down hard.

11 miles, 13 locks. (17, 16).

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