Saturday Oct 10th - Long Buckby Wharf
Friday Oct 9th – Northampton to Weedon
We were delighted to see that the weather was good when we woke up in the morning – what a relief! We had a long day ahead of us and rain could have put a real damper on it, so to speak! We left our mooring at about 8.45 and headed off to start the long haul up the 17 locks of the Rothersthorpe flight! Actually in a perverse sort of way I was quite looking forward to it. I have actually missed the “proper” locks of the canals, I’ve had enough thumb exercise pressing the buttons on the electrically controlled locks of the Nene, Middle Levels and the Great Ouse and even the locks that required manual work using a windlass were just not the same somehow.
We were very lucky indeed that after only a few minutes cruising we passed another boat which had obviously come down the flight, therefore that should mean that all the locks would be in our favour - fingers crossed!
We had a bit of a cruise to the first lock, number 16 (we came through 17 last night) which was. as we had expected, set in our favour. All the locks on this flight are single locks with two gates at the bottom and one at the top. All I had to do was open one of the gates at the bottom and Clive would gently push the other gate open with the bows. I would then close one gate, trot up to the other end, cross the lock gate, sprint down the other side of the lock and shut the other gate, then trot back to the other end and open the paddles. The first three or four locks were a good distance apart so I got back on board after each one to ride to the next one. However, once we reached the bottom of the main flight, lock number 13, there was no more riding for me, it was Shank’s mare all the way to the top! But I must have walked double the distance because as each lock was filling I would walk up to the next lock and ensure that it was set for us – some of these old locks are quite leaky and can refill in a very short time, so I did have to open the paddles on some of them before I could open the gates - then I had to walk back to the previous lock to close the gate after Clive had brought the boat out. Clive did help as much as he could by dropping the paddles and opening the gate at each lock.
I forgot to mention, we had just done a couple of locks and I was setting the next one when I noticed a lot of very dry looking wood amongst the trees adjacent to the lock. When the boat had come up to the top of the lock I grabbed Clive and went foraging. There was loads of lovely dry wood so we grabbed as much as we could and piled it on the roof. We now have a very healthy looking woodpile just waiting to be sawn up into stove sized pieces!
We were both quite amazed at how soon we reached thevtop of the flight – it had only taken us four hours! That was far less than either of us had expected. So, instead of mooring at Gayton for the night as planned we decided to carry on going as it was only one o’clock in the afternoon! We finally decided to call it a day when we arrived at Weedon at about 4.00pm. It was starting to get a bit chilly and there were some very ominous clouds looming as well. We had just moored up and come inside when it started raining quite heavily – we had made it just in the nick of time!
There is an interesting bit of history relating toWeedon. Back in the days when Napolean was knocking lumps out of everybody, the government wanted somewhere safe to hide King George III so they basically got out a map and stuck a pin in it and came up with the little village of Weedon Bec! Not really a coincidence, the completion of William Jessop’s Grand Junction Canal had linked it with London! A barracks and a royal pavilion were built on an arm of the canal, which were protected by a portcullis. Fortunately Bonaparte was seen off by Wellington and the King never even got to stay in his sumptuous pavilion!
After a couple of hours of to unwind we decided to go for a meal. We remembered having a meal at a rather nice restaurant in Weedon once before but couldn’t just remember whether it was Chinese or Asian. We soon found out, it was a Bangladeshi restaurant and it was really lovely. We had a wonderful meal and our waiter even gave me a lovely long stemmed rose as we were leaving – how nice. Then we strolled back to the boat to finish off the evening with a film. Unfortunately as I don’t have any tall vases on the boat I had to cut the rose down to half its size and it is now gracing our table in a tumbler!!
A rose by any other name!
Saturday Oct 10th – Weedon to Long Buckby
We had to be up and off again this morning. We had arranged to meet Vicki, Ben, Gareth and Indy at The New Inn, which is adjacent to the top lock of the Buckby flight of seven locks, however we had quite a cruise before we even reached the bottom of the flight. Clive was up before me (as usual!) and after bringing me my morning cuppa he was ready for off – I was still in bed when we left the mooring!
After about an hour and a half cruising we arrived at Whilton Marina. Those of you who have followed our story from the beginning will know that this is where our adventure began. We actually bought Lady Arwen at Whilton and it was from there that we set off on September 1st 2009! We pulled into the bank at themarina because we needed to replace our empty gas bottle and also wanted to top up with diesel. That done we were ready for off. The first lock is immediately after the marina, in fact the chandlery is right next to it. The Buckby flight, unlike the Rothersthorpe flight, is all double locks. There were several boats queuing to go up the flight and there were two boats in the lock coming down – it was like Piccadilly Circus!
When the two boats emerged from the lock there were two boats ready to go straight in, then another two behind them. We saw another boat arriving and called out to ask them if they would like to go up the flight with us but unfortunately they were just waiting for their friends to turn up on another boat and wanted to go up the flight with them, so we were on our own – again! However a kind gentleman who was off the aforesaid boat decided that he would come up the flight with us to help – how nice. As Clive was bringing Lady Arwen into the first lock he headed off to the next one to get it set ready for us and continued to do so up the whole flight. I was very grateful for his help and told him so. He said that as he was one of twelve people crewing the two boats following us up he didn’t think they would miss his help and therefore was quite happy to help us.
We arrived at the top of the Buckby Flight at about 1.15pm, the kids were expecting to be here for 1.30pm – perfect timing - gave us chance for a quick wash and brush up! Sure enough a short while later we got a phonecall to say they had overshot slightly and were at Whilton Marina! Clive quickly gave them the directions and within a very short time we met up with them at the pub. It was lovely to see them all again – well it has been two weeks!
We had a lovely lunch at the New Inn then all troopedback to the boat for a cuppa. Gareth soon spotted my new wipe-board and insisted on leaving his trademark!
Vicki handed over all our recent mail and some candles that I had asked her to get for us from Ikea. She had also brought her hard-drive with her and managed to download a few more films and TV series for us. Then it was time to say goodbye again – don’t know when we will see them again.
We will stay here tonight and then be on our way again in the morning.