Sept 30th - Salters Lode - March
Following on from yesterday's blog, we arrived at Denver Sluice in good time and had a couple of hours to wait before our passage through the lock. However at around 3.00pm the lock keeper wandered over to tell us that it might be a bit later as the tide was being very slow. In fact he said last night it was an hour late!
At 3.30 however he opened the lock for us and told us to put the boat in. Evidently there was a narrowboat coming through Salter's Lode and they were hoping there would be enough water in the channel by now. The plan was to let the other narrowboat come down and see how he got on. Eventually the lock keeper gave us the thumbs up and set the lock for us. Whilst we were sitting in the lock I was surprised to notice that the lock walls were covered in small molluscs which from time to time squirted water! Its amazing how life manages to cling to the strangest places!
Lock dwelling molluscs!
Finally the front door opened and we headed out and immediately grounded! The bows promptly got stuck in the mud and we weren't going anywhere! However the lock keeper came to the rescue by opening the sluices and letting some water through from the other side and within a few minutes we were floating again and on our way - touch and go there for a bit though and a bit scary!
The next job was to get the boat into the Salters Lode lock - no mean feat as we were now running against the tide, with the wind blowing and to get into the lock you have to go past it and then turn into it as it is at an acute angle to the main channel! Well we managed it on the second attempt and were soon in the lock. Once through we decided it was too late to go any further as the sun was already setting. The lock keeper very kindly said we could stay overnight on the lock moorings as there wouldn't be any boats going through again until late in the afternoon. What a relief.
Tuesday September 30th - Salters Lode to March
We were up bright and early this morning and headed off straight after breakfast at around 8.30am. It was a bit grey and cool really, so much for the heatwave that was supposed to last till the weekend! There is not a great deal to see in this part of the Middle Levels as the banks are really quite high to avoid flooding and therefore you can't see over the top of them! However we were just passing some moored boats when we saw the strangest thing - a mobile missile launcher, just parked at the top of the bank! How bizarre is that!
Mobile missile launcher - how bizarre!
A short while later and we arrived at the outskirts of a village called Nordelph. The channel is quite narrow here and it meanders down the middle of the village, with a road and houses on each side. We spotted a bridge ahead which looked quite low but Clive had checked in the mapbook and it said the bridges were all 2.3 metres which should be fine for us. We went under the first one with several inches to spare above our chimney's coolie hat, we had to duck though! Then came the second bridge andit was the same again. Finally we arrived at the third bridge and both of us realised that this was actually lower than the other two! Clive quickly put the boat into reverse to slow us right down but you can't just stop a narrowboat, it's a bit like an oil tanker! The bridge just caught the coolie hat and gently knocked it off and it landed on the roof! However, what we hadn't bargained for was the wind!! A side draught just caught the bows and pushed us straight over into the right hand pillar of the bridge, which had concrete buttresses sticking out horizontally with no barrier or other protection for boats whatsoever. There was the most horrible grinding, crunching noise as we hit it, then the bows bounced off as we passed under the bridge and we both had to crouch down to avoid being decapitated! Once through I shot inside to inspect the damage and our worst fears were realised! DISASTER! The concrete buttress had caught the A frame of the cratch and given it a real thump. It was fractured at the bottom right hand side and the glass window was shattered! Fortunately it is toughened glass so behaved a bit like a car windscreen and the glass had mainly stayed in the frame other than a few splinters. The other casualty was the cratch cover which had been ripped in a couple of places too. Oh dear what a mess! I went back to the stern to report the damage to Clive and then took the tiller so he could go and inspect it for himself.
Fortunately we are insured and we have already set the wheels in motion to get the cratch board and glass replaced and the cover repaired. As it happens we are going to be passing through Braunston in just over a week's time, which is where the cover was made. Also Dave Bassett, the guy who made the cratchboard itself lives near Coventry and we are heading his way too. So it should work out very well, with everything sorted in a reasonably short time. However we could really have done without this!
The rest of our day was pretty uneventful. We eventually arrived in March and once moored up I got all the laundry packed up into two bags and headed off to the launderette. It wasn't long before I was back on board with lots of lovely clean clothes, towels and bedlinen - such a good feeling!
We went for a little walk around March then headed back to the boat. We noticed a sandwich board outside the little pub opposite the boat, The Ship, where we had spent a great evening back in June with three other boating couples, all of whom were musicians! The landlord, Clive, had said at the time that he would really like to start a regular folk club. Well on closer inspection of the sandwich board we noticed it said "Folk Club Thursday Night - Musicians Welcome"! Unfortunately we just don't have time to stay another day so we won't be able to attend. However if any of our folkie friends are reading this, here's your opportunity! The Ship public house, March. It's right alongside the river,just by the bridge. Clive the landlord is a great guy and will most probably join in with a few of the songs!
We did actually pop over and have a quick drink with Clive after dinner this evening but we didn't stay long, an early night is on the cards!