Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Foxton to Norton Junction

Monday 6th October

Sitting out a wet day.  Catching up with blogs and emails

James went for a walk round Foxton Inclined Plane in the evening and saw a water vole.

Moored above Foxton Locks

Horse sculpture

 Foxton Inclined Plane

Very few boats went past

No boating today

Tuesday 7th October

Foxton to Crick

James set out to walk to Foxton Village to post a birthday card to Oliver.  At the foot of the locks he found a post box by the pub, so he came back earlier than anticipated.

Early morning at the locks

We set off straight away, and a Canal Club boat pulled out at the same time, about four boat lengths ahead.  It was probably his second day, as he would have come from Market Harborough.  He was quite slow, but thankfully he saw us and pulled over for us to pass.

There was intermittent sunshine but it was quite chilly as we travelled, although we had no rain. There were few boats moving, but we did meet another boat on a blind corner, and we had to sound the horn.  Fortunately we both had quick reactions and we churned up a lot of water in reverse gear.

 Early morning views

As we entered Husbands Bosworth tunnel, the warm moist air inside the tunnel caused James’s glasses to fog up!

Husbands Bosworth Tunnel

We passed lots of pleasant mooring places around the junction with the Welford Arm, but we pressed on as more rain was forecast for tomorrow, and we needed to get to Crick to hire a car (and buy some milk).

This section is very remote and rural, with some lovely scenery. We saw several kingfishers.

We stopped at Yelvertoft to fill the water tank and empty the rubbish, before setting off once more for the final two miles to Crick.  We pulled in to Crick Marina, where we bought some coal, and 50 litres of fuel.  We also took the opportunity to empty our cassettes.

Crick Marina

We moored a little further on and walked into the village to visit the Co-op.

Hugo brought us a live mouse as a gift.  James released it back into the hedge.

0 locks, 17 miles, 1 tunnel, 6hr00

Wednesday 8th October


Another mostly wet day today.  There were the remains of a mouse on the floor, so the first job was to clean that up.

Then James looked into the detail of the Data Protection Act and prepared a report for the BCF committee.

We made our plans for car hire the following day and decided that we needed a taxi to get us to Daventry so that we can make an early start soon after 8am, when the Enterprise office opens.

The rain paused late in the afternoon, and we went for a meal at the Wheatsheaf. It was a fairly limited menu, but the food was well prepared and very good.  They had two real ciders.

No boating today

Thursday 9th October

We had set the alarm for 6am.  We walked to the entrance to the Marina to meet our taxi to take us to Daventry.  We were there by 0750, and they had already opened their doors and were waiting for us.  We were on the road by 0803, in a Vauxhall Corsa 1.4.  Thankfully it had cruise control.

We went across through Southam on empty roads, and joined the M40 northbound, to connect with the M42 and M5.  There were no hold-ups, although there were some short 50mph sections where the lanes were narrow.

We made good time and arrived at Westerleigh Crematorium (Bristol area) with ten minutes to spare for the 1030 funeral for Jenny Mullinger.  It was a very sad occasion, because of the many unanswered questions which follow a suicide. 

We all drove to another venue for a memorial celebration followed by soft drinks and sandwiches. It was good to see Graham and Sheila, and John, who, with us, were for many years part of a very special church cell group with Jenny and her husband David.

We drove back across country without touching a motorway, and visited Tesco in Banbury to stock up, then had an Indian meal in an upstairs restaurant in Southam.  Excellent food.  BYO booze, but we didn’t know so we had water.

Back at Crick we parked in the entrance to a field as the only public parking near to the canal was locked at night. 

No boating today.

Friday 10th October

Crick to Norton Junction

James went off at 0730 to take the car from its overnight parking place (thankfully before the farmer found it) and he drove to Daventry to return the car, and was given a lift back to Crick.

We dried off the pram hood, inserted our tunnel light, and set off south through Crick Tunnel.

Leaving Crick

Emerging from Crick Tunnel

On arrival at Watford locks we found that we could go straight down, so we decided to do that, rather than use the facilities at the top of the flight.  There is a single lock, then a staircase of four, then two more singles.  By the time we had finished there was a boat coming up, and another waiting at the top.

Watford Locks

We cruised down past Watford Gap services to Norton Junction, where we turned and reversed towards Buckby locks, and we found a mooring in the sun, where we could dry our washing for a few hours.

We trundled our cassettes to the sanitary station, and disposed of our rubbish, but we decided to leave our water tank until Braunston.  We cruised to a frequent mooring of ours, just past Norton Junction and bridge 10, where there are lovely views, and a little less noise from the A5 and M1.

Norton Junction

Hugo brought a present that had died.

There was a beautiful sunset. A little later we were relaxing comfortably, when we heard a commotion in the water at the stern.  Hugo was having some swimming practice. He got himself out OK and ran along the path to the bows, where, thankfully, the doors were shut. This gave us time to grab a towel and shut the stern doors until we had dried him off a bit.

Sunset over Norton Junction

7 locks, 5 miles, 1 tunnel, 1 mouse, 2hr35

Saturday 11th October

Norton Junction to Braunston

Ottawa went past at 0755 – a BCF boat.

As we prepared to set off, two boats came past, and then a third.  We had a convoy. In Braunston Tunnel there seemed to be more bends than last time, although if there were to be any alterations, surely they would have straightened it out, not made it more crooked?  We met three boats coming the other way in the tunnel. 

At the locks we found ourselves sharing with Jim on Henrietta.  There was a fish symbol on the bows, and Jim was a regular churchgoer, but he said BCF wasn’t for him.

At the second lock there were boats 1 and 2 waiting to come up, and they left the third lock open for us.  By the time we got there, two boats 3 and 4 following them had closed the gates, emptied the lock, and were just starting to come up in the lock, which took water out of the short pound, causing the waiting boats 1 and 2 to list at their moorings.  We had to wait while boats 3 and 4 coming up emerged from the lock.  It didn’t take us long to go down in the third lock, and boats 3 and 4 were still waiting for their lock.  Because of our insignia on the boat we don’t usually moan at other boaters, but Jim had no such inhibitions.  They really should have waited.

Further down the locks we discovered that we were following a single boat. We were originally following two boats, so either one stopped halfway down, or another pulled out between the first two and us.

Locking down to Braunston with Henrietta

Jim pulled over before the marina, and we moored just past the stop house, where there were bushes for Hugo.

6 locks, 4 miles, 1 tunnel, 3hr15

Sunday 12th October

Braunston to Norton Junction

Henrietta went past, heading up the Oxford Canal
As we walked to the church this morning we discovered that the boat in front was BCF boat, Petroc.  We hadn’t realised the night before. We took a path across a field up to the church, where there was a family service. The hymns were chosen to highlight things that we can give thanks for: Creation, Jesus, the resurrection, The Holy Spirit.  Marian Thomas not there, but we met Gill and Geoff from Petroc, who were in the row behind us. We suggested they come with us for lunch at the Millhouse, but they had had a huge breakfast on board the Gongoozlers Rest floating cafe.  Lunch at the Millhouse was good value. From our table overlooking the canal we saw Petroc go past.

The path to the church

The knobbly spire

 Family service

We would have stayed for the rest of the day, but the forecast was wet for tomorrow, so we trundled a cassette to the nearest disposal point, reversed to the stop house water point, reversed further to the winding hole at the marina entrance, where we turned to face the other way.  The first part of the Marina, under the old iron bridge, is the original route of the Oxford Canal, which followed the contours towards Napton.

Braunston Marina Entrance
We went back up the six locks on our own.  At the first lock there were two community boats coming down, and they had lots of willing helpers to operate the lock.  There was a single boater going up two locks in front, so most of the locks were against us.

We had a clear run through Braunston Tunnel, which took us 16 minutes.  When we arrived at Bridge 10, there was just one space left.

Ottawa went past again, returning to their mooring in a marina just up the Leicester arm.

We had another amazing sunset.  Hugo brought us a mouse as a present. This one had a water burial.

Another sunset at Norton Junction

6 locks, 4 miles, 1 tunnel, 2hr45

Next week:  A slow weather-dependent cruise to Stoke Bruerne, where we have people to visit, and on to Wolverton, the start of Milton Keynes.

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