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October 8th - Northampton

Thursday 8th – Cogenhoe to Northampton


Poking my nose outside just after 7.00am, I saw the year’s first thin frost clinging to the hollows in the field next to us. It was cool last night and it certainly left its mark. The creamy coloured cows who occupy the huge flood plain here had just decided to scamper by, thinking that the guy standing at the Lock was the farmer come to feed them; they all set of, as on amission, one behind the other, almost galloping across the grass until they realised, en masse, that it wasn’t him. Their disappointment was obvious - they all turned and ambled back with their heads down, right past the boat; I said hello and commiserated but they ignored me as well. All except one small calf who came up to the boat side and almost touched it’s nose against the window. I was talking to the lady on the boat moored in front of us last night and she said she had heard that cows do like to do this as they can see their reflection in the paintwork and think it’s another cow! Hmmm…not sure about that, but it certainly can’t be ruled out.


The weather, however, was fabulous – cool air but bright, bright autumn sunshine in a clear blue sky. The water was very still and reflective and also very clear – must be a fisherman’s delight to see all those fish! The light bouncing off the yellow/gold leaves was simply lovely and conspired to delay the inevitable. It was thus nearly 11.00am before we set off. In truth, today should be a relatively easy day, with easy locks and only 3-4 hours needed, so there was no rush; we wanted to have at least one easy day before tackling the Northampton Flight.


The river here meanders across the huge flood plain of the Nene, where caravan parks, Nature Reserves and boat clubs all take advantage of the open space, with lakes and pools dotted all over. It really is a very nice area and one I shall enjoy coming back to.


We had only got to the 2nd lock along when we realised that there was some sort of tug/dredger/workboat sitting inside the top lock gates. We discovered a couple of guys on contract to the Environment Agency, painting the lock gates! Can we hang on for about 20mins? What choice did we have? It actually was more like half and hour before we could get through – ho hum.


Once moving along again, we could enjoy the day –bright, clear and calm; perfect boating weather.


A couple of locks further on and we hit the first of two special locks that we remembered from when we came down the river in June; these are Barrage Gates that have traffic lights on them to warn of flood levels and in the case of rapidly rising water, automatically close to prevent Northampton from sinking! Fortunately, all was “green” and we passed through with no difficulty. To the left are vast areas of flood storage; huge open water systems that help control the levels, either up or down and it all makes for an impressive sight.


Two more locks and we are approaching Northampton and after a bit of a 360° waltz, managed to get a final, free of charge pump out and water before rounding the final curve to see a familiar site – British Waterways Lock gear!

We were back at the entrance to the Grand Union at the end of the Northampton Arm. Mel seemed almost nostalgic – I think she’s missed the old BW locks.


Tomorrow, we begin the long pull up the 17 locks to the Grand Union Main Line – poor Mel, she says she’s got all lazy whilst in East Anglia,what with electric lock gates and whatnot! She’ll be missing them soon enough!




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