Another early start but it was cool. The mist was rising from the canal. Storm set off on foot with Max towards the three Soulbury Locks about a mile and a half ahead. I prepared the boat and followed on soon afterwards.
As Storm arrived at the locks a single hander was working his way down. Storm gave him a hand and as a result all the lock were set in our favour and when I arrived the gate was already open so I could go straight in. At wide double locks we only open one gate but open both paddles so that we reduce the physical work required but the locks still fill and empty as quickly as if there were two boats in the lock. Some of the gates on these locks are very heavy and take some moving, either that or we’re getting weaker.
We passed lots of rusting boats weighed down with peoples’ personal possessions, some of which were spilling out onto the tow path and there was a distinct lack of CRT licences on display. It’s a shame some blatantly flout the rules of the waterways while the rest of us try so hard to comply.
In Leighton Buzzard, where Tesco sits beside the canal, we stopped to fill up with fresh fruit and veg. We did manage to pop a box of Magnums into the basket as well as a case of beer! You can’t quite get your trolley to the boat which is probably just as well as I’m sure the canal would be full of runaway trolleys otherwise. While we’d been shopping the clouds had disappeared and it was hot again.
As I stowed the shopping away Storm motored on and I was back on deck in time to take my turn at the locks. We filled up with diesel at Grove Lock as there was a handy quayside pump. As we get nearer London we expect prices to rise. Today’s diesel should last us until we’re on our way back north.
As it was so hot today we kept swapping roles throughout the afternoon. The Met Office are predicting even hotter temperatures over the weekend!!
At one lock we were asked to assist an elderly couple who’d tried to moor but had then run aground and they couldn’t free themselves. We took their stern rope and looped it round our bollard before handing it back to them and then we slowly put our boat into gear and dragged their stern into deep water. They were soon floating free and were so grateful. I think they’d scared themselves as they admit they were too doddery now to walk down the side of the boat to their boat pole and so had been unable to help themselves.
We eventually married into Marsworth but as it was still mid afternoon we carried on. A new development beside the canal has appeared since we last visited in 2010 and a pub we visited with friends there is now boarded up.
As I entered the first lock of the Marsworth flight I felt a thud though the tiller and when I came to leave the lock the tiller was vibrating and no matter how much I accelerated the boat wasn’t going anywhere.
Beside most locks there is a lock-keepers cottage; most of them now are privately owned and the residents have no responsibility for the canal.
This is a sign that I’d got something caught on the propeller. Storm came and checked the weed hatch and sure enough I’d got a rope fender wrapped around. Once this was freed we were able to continue up the flight of 7 locks in half a mile. By the time we got to the top, despite sharing the locks, we both had perspiration dripping from us so we pulled in at Bulbourne Junction. After a cold shower each we visited The Grand Junction Arms for a cold beer before returning to the boat for home made quiche and salad.
A good day today and we’re now slightly ahead of our planned schedule.
(Distance today, 14 miles and 23 locks).
[No photos today. Blog site is telling me I’ve reached my limit. I will look into this.]