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Friday, November 07, 2008

Braunston to Weedon.

Thursday 6th November.

Braunston to the top of the Buckby Locks at Norton Junction. 4.2 miles and 6 locks.


Our morning got off to a noisy beginning, when at 6.45am all we could hear was a man standing outside our boat calling his dog Barney. Obviously Barney was deaf, because this guy’s voice got louder and louder, as he got crosser with Barney for not coming when he called. Why the heck he did not just go and get his dog I will never know. Anyway having listened to the calling for a few seconds, Keith got out of bed, opened the back cabin door and said to the guy “Do you mind, there are people trying to sleep”. I guess he got no response, because he was soon back inside, closing the door behind him. I lay there and thought “I wonder if the guy would like us to stand outside his bedroom window calling for Paddy at 6.45am” I bet not. It is all about a little common courtesy, which I know I have gone on about before, but it is not rocket science. When we are walking Paddy past moored boats he is always on his lead, we don’t just let him run amuck, I would hate for him to wee over other boaters ropes. We always walk past quietly if it is early. Others should show a little consideration, that is how we feel. Heck I sound annoyed now, whooooppppsss. So having been woken up we got up. I tried to stoke some life into an almost dead fire. Whilst Keith put the kettle on the gas stove and set up breakfast. Having had breakfast Paddy then got his walk on his lead. Both he and Marmite then had their breakfast. The back stove was not for stoking, it was determined not to kick in to life, so I remade the fire and hoped that it would light. We were ready to head off at 8.25am on a very overcast and damp morning.

It was really murky with heavy drizzle, supplied by the very low cloud and no wind. With no one else up and about, we had no one to share the locks with us on the way up. At lock one there is The Boat Shop, which began its life on a boat moored at Braunston Turn, it then moved into the shop. You can buy basic groceries there, canal ware and gifts, oh and not forgetting ice cream and post cards. If you leave the post cards with them, they will even post them for you, but you have to add the stamp first. Going up through lock two we did have a boat coming down alone, so left the gates open to the lock ready. I had forgotten how heavy the gates are on the Braunston Locks, so I had to really put my back into it.Once through the locks we were then heading for the tunnel, which still has the landslide piled outside the entrance. The last time we came through the tunnel, we had problems getting Hadar past the land slide, thankfully there was no problem this time. Braunston Tunnel, was opened in 1796 and is 2042 yds long. When the tunnel was being built, the builders made a mistake with the direction it was going, so now the tunnel has a slight S bend in it. Whilst going through the tunnel N.B Pilgrim passed us coming through in the opposite direction. Once we were back out into the open again, the autumn leaves were showing off their glorious colours, and despite the murky weather conditions, the canal still looked beautiful. We made our way to Norton Junction and turned right along the Grand Union Canal Main line, where we moored up by the British Waterways Yard, with the first of the Buckby Flight in front of us. The back stove fire had finally kicked into life, and we had heat at last. I do wonder if the weather conditions have had something to do with the fact that it would not light.

After our lunch of toasted crumpets, I made a chicken curry for dinner and a vegetable soup, which we will have tomorrow for lunch, these were then put in the oven of the back stove and on top of the stove to cook, whilst we took a walk down to Whilton Marina, below Lock 8 we passed Anchor Cottage, which sells canal ware and gifts etc, but was closing up for the winter as we walked by. The cottage is one of a group of lovely red brick cottages. Once at the marina we took a look around the chandlery, in the marina there were a lot of boats up for sale. Like with housing, selling a boat at the moment is not an easy task. On our way back to Hadar, the one thing that really struck me was the noise from the M1. The constant droning of the vehicles would drive me crazy if I had to live beside it. Keith remembers when he and his parents had their first summer trip on his parents boat in 1969, whilst moored below the bottom lock, they walked up to the motorway bridge and stood watching the traffic rush by underneath. Back then there was no speed limit and no where near as much traffic. Back on Hadar, Marmite and Paddy sat on the stern watching the world go by. Keith got chatting to the local British Waterways men, who are getting ready to do the winter maintenance on the Watford Locks up the Leicester Arm.

Friday 7th November.

The Buckby Locks at Norton Junction to Weedon 4.4 miles and 7 locks.


We woke up to brilliant sunshine, which was such a nice surprise after the last couple of mornings. With there being no hurry for us to move, we got up at our leisure. Paddy enjoyed a walk up the Leicester Arm of the canal at Norton Junction, and when we arrived back onboard Hadar, Keith was already preparing mushrooms on toast for breakfast. Whilst he was doing the breakfast, I relit the back stove fire, as it had gone out yet again. My thought is that I am over dosing on the damping down at night, so tonight I will be a little lighter on the ash I lay on top of the fire and see if that works. At this rate I will need to buy a new box of fire lighters sooner than I thought. Before we descended the Buckby Locks, we filled up with water and got rid of more rubbish. By 10.30am we were on our way down through the first lock, which is crossed by the Old Roman Road, Watling Street. The Buckby Flight, follows the M1 with its roaring fast traffic, a piece of 20th Century road, is joined by the London-Midland Railway. It really is quite scary to see how fast some of the cars are going. I am so pleased we no longer have a car or a need to travel on busy roads. We only met 3 boats coming in the opposite direction and they were all together. The last lock of the day was beside Whilton Marina. The canal along this stretch is really stunning at this time of year.The leaves on the trees were vibrant colours of yellow, gold, bronze, red and green. With the sunshine shining through the branches, it felt really magical, the only thing that spoilt the moment was the noise of the M1. We saw N.B Adrastea, but neither Margaret nor John was onboard. We first met them at the Shackerstone Festival this year. I am sure we will see them again at some point.Our day of cruising ended at 1.25pm, with a mooring at Weedon above the church. Although we do have the railway beside us, it still seems quiet. We had a late lunch of home made vegetable soup and crusty bread before taking a walk in to Weedon. Weedon has the River Nene, Grand Union Canal and West Coast Main Line railway all travelling through it. To get in to the village, you need to walk down the steps and through the church yard. The village of Weedon is a real contrast of styles in housing. Some of the older cottages are built out of a honey coloured stone, like the church, which is beautiful. Some of the cottages are thatched and others are newer and built in brick. There is a One Stop convenience store for all provisions, there is also a Post Office, Chemists, Hair dressers, a gift shop and the quilting store Bramble Patch. I know this store from using them online a few years ago, but never connected that they were in Weedon. Keith and I also took a walk up to the old Royal Ordnance Depot, which was once connected to the canal. Now if you have read our diary before you will know we have an interest in history of these old canalside villages, and we like to look around the cemeteries, where we can learn a lot about the village itself and those who lived there. Weedon is no exception; there are groups of names in the grave yard, which all died around the same time, so I will be doing a bit of research to see if there was any connection. It has been a fabulous day.


1 comment:

Maureen said...

So sorry I have been absent lately... good to be back and reading about your adventures!

Good thing you don't live here... winter has officially arrived.