Our voyage is one of constant discovery and this morning we found a Morrisons supermarket just feet away from us at Camden. It gets no mention in our Canal Guide. We stocked up with fresh fruit and veg before setting off by boat for the Olympic Village (11 locks and 6 miles away).
The CRT were carrying out essential repairs to a lock ahead of us and this was scheduled to be completed by 9pm this evening so today’s journey was dependent on their progress.
We left Camden before the market opened to avoid the hoards of ‘gonzoolers’ who’d have watched our progress otherwise.
We discovered we were following the Puppet Theatre boat, normally moored at Little Venice, down the locks and due to their size and depth of draft, their progress was incredibly slow and they had to keep stopping to clear their propellor which because of its depth in the water was attracting a lot more debris than ours. They were heading for Limehouse where they planned to meet up with a tug who would take them them upstream tomorrow on the Thames’ morning tide.
Thankfully after the first three locks they pulled over to let us overtake before we reached St Pancreas Lock. CRT volunteers were manning both this lock and City Road lock and they provided us with mixed messages about the stoppage ahead; one saying the stoppage had been cancelled and the other saying it was in place until 9pm. The only way to resolve the uncertainty was to press ahead and see for ourselves.
Since we last travelled this way in 2010, the area around Kings Cross has undergone a major regeneration and is now a very smart, cosmopolitan looking area where flat rents are eye-wateringly expensive.
We continued on through Islington Tunnel (960 yards. Here it is necessary to check down the length of the tunnel before entering to make sure there are no craft heading towards you, as its one-way working only.
There are lots of 7 day mooring spots in London but these have all been taken by live-aboards who have set up a permanent home here as boat ownership is an affordable alternative for many and boats are breasted up two deep.
At Lock 6 we pulled in and Max and I set off on foot to walk to the affected lock to judge for ourselves whether the lock closure was likely to be completed today. A temporary dam had been constructed across the mouth of the lock to hold the waters of the Regents Canal back and the new lock gates had been fitted already. The men were just making final adjustments to the snug fit of the lock gates but no-one was willing to say at what time the lock would reopen. I made a mental note of the number of boats already in the queue below the lock waiting for it to re-open and then Max and I returned to the boat with the plan of staying put until one of the boats waiting below reached us, at which point we could head down.
At 5.30pm the first queuing boat came past us and we were on our way again. Five locks and two miles still to travel today.
Opening the new lock gates was not easy as they were a really snug fit but after a deep breath and an extra shove, I managed to open them a chink and then slowly open the one gate nearest to the tow path sufficiently wide for us to pass through.
The rest of our journey was uneventful, apart from the football score that Storm was following on the radio.
At Old Ford Lock we turned onto the Hertford Canal. This shortcut to the River Lee was very quiet and surprisingly there were plenty of empty moorings above the locks. We carried on in the hope that there would be plenty of moorings beyond the locks too.
We moored up just below the bottom lock on the Hertford Canal just as the football went into extra time. Not long afterwards lots of dejected footie fans walked or cycled quietly past the boat on their way home from the nearby bars. England’s coming home.
It was dark when we finally sat down to our evening meal and this was interrupted by a slight bump from another boat, followed by footsteps on our roof. We were just wondering what was going on when a girl’s voice called out ‘Hello’ and she asked if it was OK for her to breast up beside us. We agreed and helped her tie up. After that we had an undisturbed night.