Sunday, 1 April 2007

First Staircase Lock flight.

7 locks and 21/2 miles, Now moored at Bridge 8.
Total of 173 locks and 1481/2 miles and 1 Tunnel since 5th Nov 2006

Thursday 22nd was another first for us as we were about to do our first staircase lock flight, the Watford flight to be exact. Upon arrival at lock 1 we tried to find the lock keeper as movements up and down the flight are restricted and you are supposed to make contact with a BW member before entering the flight. What used to be the lock keepers cottage has a big sign on the gate stating the lock keeper does not live here? However he did have an aviary with a very interesting resident, a Long Eared Owl which had leather straps on its legs so I can only assume that the owner has trained the bird and can handle it similar to Falconers do with birds of prey like Falcons or Hawks.

Just at this point we saw a boat entering lock 2 heading up the flight with somebody who appeared to be wearing BW clothing. A quick run up the hill confirmed our thoughts and he informed us that there were 2 boats waiting to come down the flight and that we should work in with them to save water. We moved through lock 1 and waited for the first boat to exit lock 2 and then we had wait for the 2nd boat to exit the staircase (locks 3 – 6) before we took our turn. We passed another boat waiting in the pound as we exited lock 6. These locks and possibly the Foxton flight are the only locks that still use the massive side ponds to conserve water.

The couple on the last boat warned us that BW had 2 of their boats in the Crick tunnel possibly surveying the tunnel and the tunnel was full of fumes from their engines so we decided that we would only travel as far as bridge 8 for the day and take a walk into Watford for a look around. The village of Watford, Northants is a far cry from Watford, Hertfordshire where I originated from. The original housing in the village has been in existence since the early 1800”s and some buildings that have been built since have built in the same style using the same sand stone blocks. The 13th century church was showing the ravages of time with the sand stone blocks being worn away by Mother Nature. There is a warning on the church door not to linger under the clock tower due to falling masonry.

Unfortunately the church was locked but from the outside some of the stained glass windows looked magnificent. Tomorrows plan is to get moving early just in case the BW people are planning another day in the tunnel.

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