Sunday, 6 January 2008

Tricky Locking.

7 locks and 1 mile. Now moored above lock 14 Stoke Bruerne

A back drop of a beautiful sunny day saw us set off up through the Stoke Bruerne locks. Locking turned out to be slow and tricky and we soon became aware of why the locks are being closed on Monday for repairs. The first problem arose at lock 18 where the pound up to lock 17 was very, very low. Luckily another boat was coming down through lock 17 so that let some water down, however I could see that there was barely enough water over the cill to get the boat out of the lock. Sure enough the boat grounded 3 parts of the way out and only got through with some excess power.

At lock 15 the bottom gates had a huge gap between the 2 gates and were leaking badly.The same problem at lock 14 meant that we were in the lock for the best part of 30 minutes with all paddles open waiting for the lock to fill. Within an hour of leaving the lock it was empty again so there is a lot of water being wasted. BW have most of their gear and work boats on site ready to start on Monday.

We thought with the impending stoppage there would be a lot more boats on the move but surprisingly there were only another 2 boats other than the 1 we passed at lock 18. This was Les on n/b Valerie and his travelling companion Andy on n/b Ynete. We met them coming up lock 15 as we were about to go for a walk so we gave them a helping hand through both 14 and 15.

While on our walk Dot decided to go via a bridlepath which was OK to start off as it was all short grass. Once we had reached the end of the pathway we crossed a farm field which had been sown with a spring crop. We started off by following a tractors track into the next field where we then followed the path of a dis-used railway line between the 2 fields. Even though we followed the hedgerow around the edge of the field it was sooooo muddy that our boots were becoming so heavy with the mud that it was becoming hard going. The farmer came along in his little all terrain buggy saying we should have followed the tree line on the other side of the field as that is where the bridlepath went. (The trouble with some of these pathways is the signage is not always visible and it takes a bit of guesswork) Unbeknown to the farmer we had spoken to his game keeper last time we were here and we knew that probably the real reason he wanted us to walk on the other side of the field was that the old railway track bed is his pheasantry where he raises up to 500 pheasants each year for his annual pheasant shoot and he didn't want us upsetting any remaining pheasants. Must be a good little money spinner for him.

By the time we reached the track down to the towpath by the Blisworth tunnel our boots were a real mess. Back at the boat I spent a good half an hour cleaning and washing our boots so we can wear them again. I think we will leave the bridlepaths until they dry out in the spring before walking them again.

877 locks, 1186 miles, 33 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

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