Canal Holiday Autumn 2008
Saturday 18 October 2008 - Grand Union Canal, Braunston to Crick
Saturday morning at the Stop House where the Oxford Canal originally met
the Grand Junction Canal. The blue hose in the bottom-right of the photo
shows that we have moved a few metres forwards and are filling up with
water prior to setting off properly.
Just as we were about to set off, a plethora of working boats emerged
from the marina, heading west, preparatory to a commemorative Jam 'Ole
Run tomorrow (more later)! It was almost ten minutes before we could get
away from our mooring - Lucy and Craig look on in some bemusement.
Finally underway, and we pass another splendid Horseley Ironworks
towpath bridge (like the two at the junction last night). Mark and
Debbie joined us here.
A few hundred metres along, we reach the bottom of the six locks of the
Braunston flight, and two boats are going up ahead of us.
Lucy cunningly steers Explorer into the lock alongside Kaybees,
watched by Debbie and Craig
Craig seeks out a good camera angle.
Lucy steers Explorer into Braunston tunnel while Mark, Debbie and
Craig take the old horse path over the top.
Inside the tunnel
Blue sky up one of the ventilation shafts
Everyone arrived safely at the other end of the 2042-yard (1.867km)
We moored at Norton Junction, and had lunch at the New Inn. Craig, Lucy
and Debbie make their way across the gate of the top lock of the Buckby
flight as we walk back to the boat.
Now on the Leicester line of the Grand Union Canal (indeed, the original
Grand Union Canal), we have left the "broad" locks behind and the seven
locks of the Watford flight are all "narrow". Here Explorer
enters the bottom lock under a bridge
Stephen at the tiller
Lucy heads off to join the lock-keeper (with life belt) at the bottom of
the four-rise staircase...
...while the rest of the crew stay behind as the boat emerges from the
second lock of the seven.
One of the side ponds of the four-rise staircase. It is important to
open and close the paddles in the right order, and when the right gates
are closed. Although not especially difficult, the staircase is more
mentally demanding than normal locks, which is why a lock-keeper is
normally on hand. In going up, water is released from one lock into the
side pond, using the red paddle gear, and then back into the lower lock
using the white paddle gear.
Going from one lock into the next
Craig winding up the red paddle
Lucy watches the lock fill
Looking back down the staircase
Debbie prepares to open a gate
The Watford locks safely negotiated, our next obstacle is the Crick
Tunnel. This one is only 1528 yards (1.397km) but rather wetter than
Daylight as we emerge at Crick. We continued on a little way past the
marinas, and thus extended Stephen and Lucy's exploration of the
Leicester line by a few hundred metres, then turned and moored on a
winter-permit-holders-only mooring as there was lots of space, but the
ordinary visitors' moorings were full. We said farewell to Mark and
Debbie, and then had a good dinner at the Wheatsheaf.