We headed towards Braunston locks and from a distance we could see one gate open and a boat just about to enter. As we couldn’t see any other boat heading for the lock we hoped that we might be able to go straight in. Someone on the lock top must have seen us coming because they opened the other gate.
The other boat in the lock was NB Winding Down. This was another small world moment for us as this is the boat that Pip & Mick (aka NB Lillyanne/part Wasp) used to have a share in this shared ownership boat before they became the proud owners of Lillyanne last year. Today’s crew of Paul and Aileen also know Pip & Mick, apparently having shared a breakfast together when NB Winding Down was based on the Trent & Mersey. Today they were heading back to their new base on the Grand Union Leicester Section, just north of Norton Junction.
Having introduced ourselves and talked about coincidences Aileen & I chatted when we could hear each other over the noise of the water filling the lock and Storm and Paul were also engaged in ernest chat on the back of the boats. We’d soon cleared the six locks and once safely back on board we headed towards Braunston Tunnel (2042 yards). There was a bright light heading towards us and as we got nearer we realised that it was actually the lights from four boats. We’ve never met so many boats in one tunnel before.
We then turned left at Norton Junction and managed a wave across the fields to NB Winding Down who was soon to make the turn as well. We carried on to the bottom of the six Watford Locks (beside the Watford Gap services on the M1). It is necessary to register your arrival at the locks here with the lock-keeper and having done that we filled up with water while we waited for our turn. We were No 4 in the queue today. Last time we came this way we were No 13 and had to wait over two hours for our turn. When it’s busy they let six boats up, then six boats down. Today was much quicker though as we were the only boat going up with three coming down.
The lockkeeper advised that when the first boat exited the locks, we could work our way through the first two locks and then wait. Our total wait time today was no more than 15 minutes before we could enter the staircase of three locks, followed by another single lock after that. The locks here have side pounds and there are red and white painted paddles that you have to do in the correct order – “Red then white you’ll be alright, White then Red you’re DEAD”. We got the order right and passed through without incident and the voluntary lockkeeper was extremely chatty.
We kept going and reached Crick Tunnel next (1528 yards). This was relatively dry today compared with our previous trips through and we only needed our umbrella up for the last 100 yards. We met one boat in here.
We’d hoped to moor up in Crick village but unfortunately there was no space although we did try to shoe horn ourselves into one gap that was just three feet too small. Much of the edge near the marina has been planted up recently to deter moorers and the planting is looking quite healthy.
Pip had asked that we wave at NB Panda as we went by Crick marina. There was no-one on board although she did look very nice in her shiny new paintwork. We continued on to Yelvertoft and moored up just after Skew Bridge on the 14 day visitor mooring there.
By now time was marching on and we popped into the village to order our favourite Saturday newspaper as we know from past experience that they sell out of papers quickly here. We only have nine miles to go until we reach Welford where we’re meeting up with James & Ali on Monday morning so we don’t need to rush away.