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Tuesday 30 September 2014

Forward planning.

It is official that this September has been the driest since records began at the start of the 20th Century. I have been trying to think back to when we last had any significant rain when we underway and I think back to a torrential downpour when we were on the Trent between Newark and Hazelford Lock. I got wet through to the skin that time, and that was back on 9th June. However I struggle to think of another time when we had to dive for cover or just didn't bother for the  day. However it did make think about our trip to the north. We will be using the Peak Forest and Macclesfield canals as well as the heavily locked and underwatered Huddersfield Narrow Canal. I had a quick lock on the reservoir watch section on the C&RT website and found the we should be okay as Peak Forest and Macclesfield reservoirs are over half full and the Huddersfield Narrow 70% full in September. The worst they have been was 30% in 2003 for the Peak and Macclesfield and 17% for the Huddersfield Narrow last year. That was because work was being carried out  on the reservoir though. If we have a dry winter there could be restrictions next year I  am thinking.

We wont be going very far if it is like this on the Huddersfield.

I understand that it is Freeky Friday at Midland Chandlers and so I am racking my brains to see if there is anything we need as we will be passing Braunston on Friday. I will have to think hard I think and then check on line to make sure that it is cheaper at Midland Chandlers even with the 20% off. I am wondering whether to get some Fuel Set fuel additive to does our tank with as we purchase fuel and for when we leave it over the winter. When we do leave it we always fill the diesel tank right to the top so there is no air gap. It is in that gap where the air may condense and the water can only go into the tank. Where there is water in the bio-diesel that  is supplied these days there is a chance that bugs can propagate and cause problems with blocked filters and needing a complete clean of the tank and a polish of the fuel. Fuel Set (other brands are available) is supposed to  kill the bugs, enclose any water so that it is burnt along with the rest of the fuel and other additives clean and condition the system. It reminds me of STP that was sold for cars a good while ago. (It seems that you can still get it). You only need 1:4000 dose so not much for a narrow boat really. I will have to see what the price is when we get there.

I have an oil change to do too as I now have the oil filter to do the job, and there are bound to be a few other jobs that I can do. I may see if they have a spare stove glass of the right size as it would be bad to be without the fire through the winter. The trouble is when you go in to purchase two items they are banking on you coming out with a few more!

Monday 29 September 2014

Flashing the ivories.

Conveniently for my visit home to see my Mum has coincided with a dental appointment made six months ago. I am with the NHS and a check up costs £18. Our Dentists is very well organised, like a well oiled machine and I wasn't there very long at all. This was the second time I have seen a young man. Before that I had a very nice Dutch female dentist and then a bit more dour Polish man. Last time the young dentist praised me on keeping my teeth so well. That was unusual as normally they just tell you if there is anything wrong. This time he was reading out scores of how clear my teeth were. I had all 0's except for the middle bottom where I had a 2. I assume the score is out of 10 and is for the build up of plaque or tartar or something. He told me that only 1 in a 1000 have properly clean teeth. He then said that I only need go for a check up every nine months now. I will have to work harder on the lower middle teeth for next time.

Not mine I hasten to add.

Whilst at my Mums I filled up her water softener with salt cubes today. We live in a very hard water area but I wouldn't bother for myself. I read on many boat details that they have filters and softners fitted, and whilst out cruising this year I came across a hire boat that had a sign by the kitchen tap saying do not drink the water unless boiled first. As we travel round the system we fill up from many taps and the water must come from many different sources and these days, companies. We do experiences differences in the water but only in the taste of the tea etc. I have never been worried about it not being drinkable. When at sea we took very questionable water occasionally and we would then does the tanks. If I remember correctly it was a 2% mixture of sodium hypochloride. I think this is like normal bleach. The taste died off quite quickly. We would also have to flush out all showers hoses and roses with the mixture to prevent Legionnaires Disease. I wonder if anybody does this on boats. I may be tempted to do it when leaving the boat for long periods. The water tanks at sea were usually painted  steel and with time the coating broke down and the water became rusty coloured. There was a chemical that you could add that with time would adhere to the steel work and seal the rust in without chipping and painting. It seems that most new water tanks on narrow boats are stainless steel. I have also seen plastic rigid and ballon like as liners, but if somebody with an old steel tank that needs sortring it could be the way to go for a minimum of effort. Not sure how much it costs though. And I'm not sure how long a stainless tank will last as It seems that it is the welds that go first with them.

This one seems a little past the chipping and painting stage!

There has been another boat caght on a sill at Kegworth on the River Soar recently. Helen usually does the driving when we are going down the locks, and drive going up. Helen is always looking backwards to check the boat is clear of the sill but it only takes a slight loss of concentration for it to all go wrong. It also strikes me as important that the person working the paddle gear should not be too far away so as to be able to respond to shouts if the boat gets into difficulties. The best thing to do would be to drop all the paddles before things get too bad and then assess the situation. If you are off setting the next lock it may not be possible to respond quick enough. C&RT said that it happens a couple of times a year so when you consider that there are four million people passing through locks in that time it is still quite rare. Make sure it doesn't happen to you.

8 hours to refloat this boat at Kegworth two days ago. Fortunately only one woman slightly hurt.

Sunday 28 September 2014

More bang for your buck.

Still at home and despite having a big comfy double bed to my self I didn't sleep so well. I reckon that tonight will be fine as I am almost nodding off now. It seems to be the usual thing with me these days, it takes a night to get used to the new situation. Mind you it was a good job that I was up early as I had a phone call from my Mum which meant a visit to the Hospital. She had day surgery yesterday and today needed to have her dressing sorted. The hospital were very quick and efficient so all in all a good experience.

When I got home on Saturday the C&RT Licence renewal form was waiting for me. My licence runs out at the end of October, so they are being very efficient. The cost  for this next licence, with a prompt payment discount for a 17.98m boat is £856-70. Not too bad if you say it quickly. When you think about it though it really isn't too bad a deal. Especially if you are on the water for a lot of the year. If you have your boat in a marina and live on land just having a couple of weeks a year away afloat it may seem a lot of money. For us who have seven months away on the boat it isn't too bad at all. £122 pounds a month for a mooring 210 nights, water when ever you want it, rubbish disposal etc etc. A caravan on a touring site will cost say £10 a night so for seven months away that would be £2100! That's about £1240 more expensive. Mind you the cost of running our boat this year is already over £4200 in total, with everything except food and drink. I'll give a complete breakdown over winter when the figures are all in. C&RT have agreed that the licence costs will onbly raise in line with inflation for the next two years I think it is.

These are the licence 'discs' that should be displayed on boats. The one withe the green stripe is the Craft Licence. You can get 3 and 6 month licences too. The green M indicates that the b oat has a mooring licence too.

Also to be displayed is the boat index number that is assigned when it is first registered, like a car number plate. As the tax discs on cars are to disappear from next month I'm not sure how long it will be before it happens on the canals too. At the moment there can be much discontent when by boaters when they see an out of date licence on a boat. However they may be licenced but not displaying. On the road police fixed and mobile number plate readers check automatically with the database whether the car is properly taxed and insured etc. On the canals there are volunteers and paid employees that go up and down the towpaths to check where boats are so as to be able to monitor whether they are complying with their licence requirement such as 'continuous cruising'. This must be linked to a database too. Therefore it could, with improvements in the technology, that the paperwork could be reduced and the twitching of curtains type of approach to it all could be done away with.

I bet this one isn't displaying his craft licence and he has found a mooring that wont get a mooring permit too.

This afternoon with my Mum we stumbled across the film 'Out of Africa' with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. I first saw this film in 1986 in a theatre in Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. It was the first time I had heard of Meryl Streep and it most be up there as my favourite film ever. At least the one to make me cry the most. It was embarrassing walking round Glasgow weeping like my 18 year old dog had died. About an hour later, still red eyed, and sitting in a Chinese restaurant I broke down again. The same happened to day, in front of my Mum. It is just the most gently paced film with stunning scenery and such a sad and romantic story, which was largely true too, about a bygone era. I also was taken back to our 25th wedding anniversary when we went to Tanzania on safari and how perfect it was. I don't think Meryl Streep has made a bad movie since then either.

Back home for a bit.

I was up before the Hurricane came on this morning. Started off okay but after it shut down the first time it gave the short alarm and said to check coolant levels. However with in a short space of time it restarted itself with out me doing anything and then ran perfectly for the rest of the morning that I had it on. I have given up and I have made a proper appointment at Calcutt for next Friday to get it all checked out.

There is a slight bend just before Clifton Cruisers Wharf and the hire boats are moored two abreast. There is therefore only room for one boat. This morning there were loads of boats and there was a bit of a queue forming to get through the pinch point. It was quite fun to watch.

This is where the pinch point is but there are now boats two abreast on the wharf. 'Holderness' is moored right outside the cafe they have on the wharf and it will be very handy for Helen.

Before I left for the station I checked that there was coal, logs etc and that the water was full and just about anything else I could think of. We had put a wash on and so we hung that up before we left for the station. I had to go home as my Mum had gone into day surgery and I was going to make sure she was okay for a few days. I had just told Helen that I had 11 minutes to change at Tamworth when there was an announcement to say my first train was delayed by about 15 minutes! Apparently there was a trespasser on the line and they couldn't proceed until they were clear.

In the end they were about 40 mins late. I got to Tamworth, which is a strange station as there is a low level and high level. I came in on the low level track which is the West Coast Main Line and went out on the cross country line.

An old aerial photo of Tamworth Station.

From Tamworth I was supposed to catch a train to Sheffield. I had missed that connection and the next one through there direct was in 1 hr 45 mins. I managed to get on a train to Derby and from there to Sheffield and got there 45 minutes earlier. In the end I got home an hour later than was scheduled. Therefore, all in all, it wasn't a bad trip as I still beat my Mum out of Hospital.

There are two job lists for me to complete here now so it will be a busy time.

Friday 26 September 2014

Finally staying in one place for a while.

We had a bit of a delayed start as it was 1030 by the time we left. It seems that the Hurricane may be working but it also may not be. We will have to wait and see what happens in the morning. The canal was busy with traffic both ways. It is like the motorway of the system round here with so many marinas and so many routes.

Braunston Church and windmill from around Wolfhampcote.

Strangely as we approached the junction at Braunston all was quiet. Just as we got to the left turn mayhem descended and there were boats all over the place,

On to the Oxford Canal proper it was still as busy as there were boats moored on both sides of the bend and up to the bridge.

Once clear of the junction the countryside returns and it is a delightful rolling view. All around this area there are signs of the the ancient field system or is it the work of Victorian farmers. In the middle ages each family under the Lord of the Manor had sections of a field to cultivate in strips. They followed a rotation system over three years. In the Victorian times the farm labourers were used to dig ditches and throw up the spoil into a bank. In this way the surface area of available land was increased. As all the fields that show this type of formation around Braunston are down to pasture I have a feeling it is the later system.

We chugged our was to Hillmorton and made a note of some good spots for the night if and when we come back this way later next week. Hillmorton is approached alongside the numerous radio aerials, some of which were made in 1926 and from where the first trans-Atlantic RT were made. Of course these days the signal wraps around the world.

Rugby Radio aerials.

These are the Oxford Canal Company's workshops that are found on a little side arm off between the middle and bottom locks at Hillmorton.

As one bloke from a boat observed, 'You don't boat round here much do you'. This was because Helen had used her long throw windlass and caught her fingers on the beam. Only short throw for this flight it seems. But hey it is good to get back to narrow locks again. I felt ten time stronger doing these size locks!

We are booked in to Clifton Cruisers for a week as I have to go home. We arrived at 1430 and sorted out a berth and electricity before heading into town to get the lie of the land, and some milk. There is a food and Drink Festival that has Helen's interest. There also several self guide walks too. We called at the Merchants Inn and found that it doesn't look anything like the outside on the inside. It was a lovely place and had several beers. I sampled Bumble Beer by Wentworth Brewery. On the way home we came across the statue of Rupert Brooke who was a poet. It was he that wrote 
' If I should die think only this of me, 
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England.

The statue of Robert Brooke who was lost in WW1.

These looked so inviting after a long walk but turned out to be carved stone and were in the little park where the Brooke statue was.

There was also a plaque explaining that on the same site, on a bit of a hill was an ancient British fort that was matched by one across the valley at Brownsover. There was also a plaque indicating that this was later the site of a 13th Century moated Manor house that was owned by the de Rokeby family and this gave the name to Rugby.

Thursday 25 September 2014

Fingers crossed for a Hurricane!

I was up early and got a cup of tea for us both and had a shower before setting off at 0800. The sun was periodically shining down and the country side looked lovely.

The view from our mooring of the night.

As I passed the line of moored boats at tick over a guy popped out onto deck and was putting on his boots. I asked him if he was setting off and he said he would in a minute or two so I said we would wait at the locks for him. I went quite slowly to give him time to catch up. It wasn't long before we arrived at Braunston Tunnel. There was nobody coming through so I could go straight down the middle as it is two way working. By the time I had been in a few minutes I could see the ligth behind  me so could speed up a bit.

The wooded east portal of Braunston Tunnel.

We arrived  at the locks together. It looked like a couple of boats  were heading down. Our lock buddy was a Willow Wren boat but the hirer had been hiring for 25 years. They were from Scarborough so we had a good chat about this and that. I made a very bad  mistake at the next lock as I thought the boats ahead of us had left  a gate open so I closed it and filled the lock. When half full I saw there was a boat coming up. I apologised for my mistake and hope I was forgiven.

The Willoow Wren boat looked very good and they told me that it is the most popular boat and there isn't a week hardly that it is  out on the cut. It was the same age as ours. I have 1100 hours on the engine and she had 9000.

Helen in front of the Lord Neslon that had been threatened with closure but has thankfully been saved. Unfortunately we wont have a chance of a stop over this time round.

As the gates of the bottom lock opened we were met  with this sight. Boats all over the cut. I'm not sure why some of them couldn't wait a little further down. All was negotiated with no trouble. 

We said Ta Ta to our lock buddies as they moored up and we took the turn down the Oxford Canal towards Wigrams Turn. I had not been able to fix the Hurricane heater so we took the opportunity  to call at Calcutt and see what the experts said. We got there just after their  lunch break and soon we had a nice many in a boiler suit looking at the system. They weren't able to fit me in for them to do any work  so I picked his brains and bought some antifreeze and set off back towards Rugby. We found  a nice spot and moored up about 1600. Straight away we started to  replace the coolant in the heating system. I followed the suggestion of not draining the system but pushing out the old coolant through the highest radiator bleed valve. It is taking a long time but I hope it works. It is recommended that it is  done every three years so it is ready for it. 

 This is the expansion tank in the warm cupboard and I have to keep the tank topped up to prevent it pulling air down. The blue is the colour of the new coolant.

This is the colour of the coolant coming out of the system.

Despite all the hassle the view from the window makes it all worth while.

Another farewell.

We were off and running before 1000 heading to the last two Stoke Bruerne locks. It had been raining earlier but was shaping up to be another nice day. We were going to share the locks and tunnel and stop at the other end, at Blisworth for tea and cake before going our separate ways. All went well and we only met one boat coming the opposite way in the tunnel and we were through in a little over 30 mins. At Blisowrth everybody and his dog seemed to be moored there. At Tunnel Boats yard there was a long boat moored athwart the cut that may have been waiting to enter the dry dock or similar. This left a gap that a narrow boat could get through. That would have been fine but a boat tried to pull out right in front of all this and then there was another moored just past the restriction that meant it was almost impossible to bend round them both. But we both managed it and after a passing most of the moorings just squeezed on before Bridge 49.

Stoke Bruerne Top Lock with the canal cottages and Canal Museum. David about to do his thing with beams.

'Waka Huia' approaching the southern portal of the Blisworth Tunnel. Note they had donned their coats in readiness for a cold and wet experience. It wasn't really either.

The tea and cakes cleared away and we are about to make our seasons farewells. Even Macy looks a little subdued.

We are on our way and looking forward to seeing Marilyn and David somewhere next year.

We hadn't been going long when we had a text that they had changed their mind and they were going to come up the Buckby Flight with us. They passed us as we took fuel at Bridge 32 Supplies. 78p domestic as we took on 165 ltrs of diesel. We then were playing catch up and literally met up with them out side Whilton Marina at the foot of the seven locks.

It was lovely and warm out of the chilly wind and the winding canal was beautiful too.

Marilyn wanted to tie the bows of the boats together as an extra to our moving into the locks together. It worked well until I needed to jump off to close the top gate after we left and my boat carried on. It was a good job I had the middle rope and that my legs are quite long!

Using these methods and with crossing with a couple of boats coming down we made good time up the locks. I was tempted to moor before the top lock as there was plenty of room but decided it would give Helen a lay in If I could get straight off for Braunston Tunnel in the morning. Above the lock the moorings were full but I tagged on the end under the bridge at the junction heading for the tunnel. Marilyn and David turned right and had a night in Weltonfields Marina. Luckily they were up for the short cold and dark walk to our boat so we could repay the compliment and feed them for the exertions in getting us speedily to Norton Junction. A curry and crumble was enjoyed, but not too much wine flowed as all were tired after a couple of long days. This time it has been a fond farewell for the season, unless we see them again that is, as we are heading off early to Calcutt to get the Hurricane serviced and they will be stopping in Braunston later. Safe Journey home both and see you next year.

Sun was just setting as we made fast on our mooring. This is a good view to wake up to in the morning.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Catch up.

By the time we had eaten last night it was dark so I didn't get to check out the heating system so whilst I was waiting for the kettle to boil I lifted the deck boards of the engine hole and cracked open the calorifier cupboard and investigated further.  I checked to see if the skin tank had an air lock and, yes, there was a bit of air trapped. Then with the radiator cap of I loosed all the hose leading to the calorifier and gave them a lift up and down to see if I could dislodge any air that may be in there. I then cleared the alarm from the panel on the Hurricane and cracked it up again. Lo and behold no alarms! Despite this we have sped along today to try and catch up with our programme of getting to Rugby for Friday and still with the option of diverting to Calcutt if required. The test for the Hurricane heater will be in the morning when it is staring from cold. Fingers crossed.

The other reason that we were speeding onwards was to catch up with Marilyn and David on 'Waka Huia'. We have made a rendezvous of the foot of Braunston Locks so the game was afoot. We passed Les and Jaq on 'Valerie' just round the corner from our overnight mooring without knowing they were there. We knew they weren't early rises and there was no sign of life when we passed so we didn't bang on their roof or anything.

We made good time through Milton Keynes despite the numerous moored boats that caused a slow down. I am still amazed on how green Milton Keynes is and how much open space has been incorporated into the place. Having passed through on the canal it seem to have an unjust bad press.

We were soon passing the long mural on the wall of the LNWR works that relates the engine works with events of the past and is well done. I wonder how often they need to repaint it. It may become a bit like painting the Forth Bridge. It is pleasing to see that despite it being alongside a footpath it hasn't been defaced.

Just round the corner is another sculpture by Martin Heron. This one is made of steel and the body is on railway lines with the outstretched arm holding a Bloomer Engine that was manufactured here in the 19th Century. On the other side of the cut is the modern equivalent in stainless steel with the arm holding cyclists and joggers. Time marched on.

We were soon on the Ouse Aqueduct. When we came this way before I was below taking photos of the boat going over. Whilst not up to Llangollen standards it is still quite impressive.

The view to the south crossing the Great Ouse Aqueduct.

We were soon at the third lock of the day, the 3'4" of Cosgrove Lock. It is a lovely setting especially on a lovely autumn day and over the wall of the lock was a nice surprise. 

This scene had me thinking of the Bethlehem Christmas Story for some reason!

The country side was quintessentially English as we closed up to Stoke Bruerne with hamlets on hill and sheep in the pastures with signs of ancient field system still in evidence. On one side was a sharp needle like steeple and on the other a squat stone tower.

Far views.

We managed to get to the foot of Stoke locks just after 1600 to find Waka Huia patiently waiting for us. They let us fill with water as there was somebody descending the locks and then we were off. Marilyn favoured the double breasted approach so we lined up and went for it. I must say they but for me keeping her in line we could have gone anywhere. (Very tongue in check and expecting a slap tomorrow). It all worked well and we seemed to speed up the locks.

Helen and David checking out what is up ahead.

Marilyn and Tony jockeying for position.

We decided to moor up in the long pound between locks five and six and were soon opening the first bottle on 'Waka Huia'. We had nibbles and then a lovely meal. Chat went this way and that and we decided that we are now talking like we are oldies! It wasn't like that in our day! So we moved on to higher plane altogether, but can't really remember what it was. I'm sure somebody will remind me in the morning.

Monday 22 September 2014

SD Card Kaput.

Sorry folks there are now photos today, or at least not our photos, as the SD card has gone bonkers. Luckily we have another one so normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

We set off from Marsworth just after 0930. It had been quite foggy early on but was set for a lovely day by the time we left. We have had an alarm on the Hurricane heater that says that it is overheating but only occasionally. I called Calcutt who are the UK distributors for them and they reckon that it is either the circulation pump or there is an air lock in the system. We have had a long day today so I didn't get round to sussing it out so we will have to see in the morning. I think that we will head for Calcutt as it is only a couple of hours from Braunston so if we crack on over the next few days we will be able to get there, get the heater sorted, and then get to Rugby so I can catch my train for home as my Mum is going into hospital for the day and I will then be there to make sure she is out and about.

We were soon at Pitstone Locks where a wide beam single hander was just leaving the bottom lock as we entered the top lock. He left both the bottom gates open and then moored right round the corner. By the time he had walked back we were in the bottom lock. I knew he was going to ask if we would get him through the swing bridge to which of course I said yes, as long as we could then over take him as we were trying to get a fair way today. I'm not sure whether he understood but eventually he said fine and wandered off to the top lock to chat to some other folk. In all the time he managed, with impeccable timing, to avoid helping with any of the gates or paddles. Whilst  we were waiting for him to appear at the bridge I picked some wild damsons. They were going a little soft but would make a good pie or crumble. We had passed an ABC hire boat just before the swing bridge and it had then caught us up by Seabrook Locks. It was good to share with a few others as the locks are spaced out and many hands make light work.

Pitstone swing bridge.

The weather was a perfect day for boating and at each lock I found something that I could forage. There were crab apples and blackberries and damson so when I get the time I will do something with them. The rose hips are looking great too so when we stopped in Leighton Buzzard i thought I would get some ginger to make rose hip and ginger jam.
The Wipsnade Chalk Lion was just about visible today but this is a much better photo than I had taken anyway. It seems that at night sometimes the outline is lit up.
Horton Lock seems to be very isolated other than the farm next door. With out the railway or aeroplanes it must have been extremely peaceful.

We lost out lock partners at Slapton Lock as they were stopping for water and then finding a spot to moor for the night. They had hired for two weeks and had been very lucky with the weather so far. We carried on as we need to purchase some ships stores and headed for Leighton Buzzard.

At Church Lock we passed a C&RT work boat ascending with gear to fill some holes in the tow path. There were three of them with one of those things with an outboard on the back.

We were going to take water at Leighton Buzzard but there was a boat on the point. and he was filling to large water butts on his bow. I can only assume that they were supplementary to his main tank but as the boat looked fairly new I would have thought that the main tank would have been large enough to not need them. Needless to say we pulled round the corner and moored at Tesco's. Mind you we went to Aldi and filled up on the baking requisites  that Helen needed and a few other bits. We then dropped that back at the boat and got other stuff from Tesco so we could take advantage of money off a £40 shop. This lot included beer and wine though. We were soon on the move again and at Soulbury Locks. It seems that despite it being 1815 the voluntary lock keeper had just gone, but there was an old boy to have a chat with and who helped to open the gates for us. At the bottom we stopped for the water we wanted after a laundry load and cracked on again.

Soulbury Three Locks
Soulbury three locks. The pub has seating right next to the middle lock and it did look tempting to stop for one. Some of the drinkers spoke to Helen saying that they were enjoying their drink in the evening sun but weren't eating as it was too expensive. £11 for fish and chips!

We went on a little further and then, as the sun had set, we decided that was it for the day and moored up in a nice spot. We have succumbed to lighting the stove though on the pretense that we neede to dry the laundry and that it was cold last night. We will have to see what the Hurricane does in the morning.

Sunday 21 September 2014

Up and over the top.

We didn't get away too early as we had to wait for the paper shop to open at 1000 and then there was the Archers on too. We compromised and set off listening to it outside. We went up the gas two locks just outside Berkhamsted and as we approached Bushes Lock a wide beam pulled out in front of us, and they weren't out to break any records. I helped them up the lock and then it was our turn. I then spent about 20 minutes getting out a mat of reeds and rushes that was blocking one the gate. I was hoping that another boat may come up the locks and we could share with them, but no such luck.

Clearing a 'floating island' from behind the gate.

In any only another lock or two we overtook her as she was having engine problems, but we never did get a lock buddy this side of the summit. The sun was trying to shine but it was a little breezy.

This lock beam had seen a few summers when it was growing. Despite its size it has well hung and it swung very easily. Dudswell Lock.

We reached Cowroast Lock and once through the lock we stopped for water and to empty the 'unmentionables' and now we are all set for another three weeks at least.

Cowroast is the summit lock from south. There is a lock keepers cottage and this building was the Control Office were all the boating movements were recorded and passed up and down the line when it was a working canal.

Tring Summit is not much more than a couple of miles long and mostly passing through a cutting that took almost five years to dig even though at its deepest it is only 30 foot deep. It can be gloomy down there as the trees block out a lot of the light.

On a day like today there is a definite touch of autumn in the air. The green of the leaves has faded and are just starting to turn now. There is a coolness to the day that just gives that edge. I am almost looking forward to the first fire of the autumn.

We thought we had a lock buddy for going down the Marsworth Locks but they stopped at the water point. We had settled in the lock when I just glimpsed a day boat on the way towards us. They had many hands, but mainly children but it did make the passage pass quickly.

Helen in one of the Marsworth pounds.

View from the cut through a natural window in the hedge to Marsworth Reservoir.

We popped out at the bottom of the seven locks after being entertained by the many gongoozlers and their children. We had a two year old from Tanzania that could push the gates on his own!

We said good bye to our help down the locks as they had to have their boat back at 1730 and found a spot for the night overlooking the start of the Aylesbury Arm. It was good to be moving again.