Saturday, 27 September 2014

A day in Braunston and why our ascent went downhill......

Friday morn saw us pull the pins mid morning.  We had not got far to travel, just enough to charge up the batteries.  The journey in was uber familiar. This is a route we have covered many many times. The weather was pleasant and the views over the rolling Northamptonshire countryside could not be bettered.  It was a slow journey as we were following a hire boat who was taking it easy, enjoying the journey and slowing down passing moored boats.  This year for some reason, we have become more aware of just how quickly boats now travel when passing moored boats, because we have been on the receiving end so often perhaps.  So it was nice to see a boater showing consideration.  The main culprits are undoubtedly private owners, of shall we say, a certain age!

 Anyway, at the picturesque junction, with the familiar church spire on the horizon, we turned right. The visitor moorings were busy, but we spied a space opposite the Boathouse P.H. and we were in. We spent the day wandering between Bottom lock and Midland chandlers, buying a few bits and pieces, then chilled out on the boat.

In the evening we met Paul and Jane at the Boathouse. This is a two meals for a tenner establishment, so not high cuisine, but the beer is good!  With the exception of Paul's meal, which was a dry and bland burger, ours were ok.  Enjoyed the beer perhaps a little to much though.......

Miles 5
Locks O

This morning, after Ali had walked in for bread and milk, we slowly made our way past the numerous moored boats. As nothing had passed us heading for the locks, we expected a relatively easy passage.  How wrong were we.

The first indication was when a boat passed us and warned the locks were somewhat chaotic.  The pounds were low and they were queueing.  As we approached bottom lock, we saw two boats entering the lock, with another waiting. We joined them.  Apparently, the low water levels were a result of someone draining the Buckby flight.  Eventually, it was our turn.  The lady piloting our companion boat, ordered, and I mean ordered me to enter the lock first.  Hackles up!  When she eventually joined me in the lock, she said this was to ascertain my competency.  Cheeky cow.  It was one of those, "we look down on you" moments and she announced they were live aboards, as if this gave them some seniority in the pecking order.

As we left the lock, we could see the water levels were seriously low.  Strangely, there was a single boat waiting to ascend the next lock, although we had only seen pairs ascending.  Apparently there had been some sort of kerfuffle earlier when a boat drove straight into a lock, ahead of the two boats who had worked it.  Looks like this was the culprit and had been abandoned.  We let our erstwhile companions join the miscreant in ascending the rest of the locks, whilst we were joined by a lovely couple who had come up the first lock alone.

It was slow going, painfully so.  At one stage there were six boats in a short pound, add to this the fact that the bottom was too close to the top,  made it fun.  Not really, it was tedious.  The six locks on this flight took longer to ascend than the twenty one at Hatton.  By the time we left the last lock, we were knackered.  The water level had recovered somewhat and our lock companions waved us ahead as we bade then farewell.  Not a boat was moving towards us and Braunston tunnel was eerily quiet.  We could see through and no lights greeted us, so a swift passage was made .  Back in the daylight, we puttered on to Norton junction, then a swift left onto the Leicester line.  Almost full circle now and home, but not quite.

We have moored for the day just prior to Bells bridge, all on our lonesome.  Well we were until 1830 when another boat joined us.  So the last locks of the season for us tomorrow, the last tunnel, then into the marina.....

Miles 5
Locks 6 but felt like 60
Tunnel 2042 yds

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