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) tunnel.

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 Braunston Tunnel.

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.



Back Up Next

Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson