Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Watford Gap

Yesterday I called into the Braunston Butcher for some of his famous sausages.  Whilst in the shop I made an impromptu decision to buy one of his family size steak and kidney pies which we had for dinner.  It wasn’t until this morning that something happened to remind us the pies are made with laxative pastry.

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A cold but clear start to the day and we were on our way at 8.30am. A short cruise to the water point by the old toll house where after a week of use we topped up the water tank. There was a minor incident whilst we were filling.  A hire boat came in behind going too fast and despite frantic gestures on our part the steerer managed to hit Waiouru’s stern. No damage and the elderly couple (they were probably our age!) on board apologised.

The owner of a moored boat we were passing on our way to Braunston Bottom Lock called out ”Are you from Waiouru?” (with correct pronunciation)  We confirmed he was correct and then he said “I’m from Taranaki!”   A small world

Two boats had already come down the flight so we were fairly certain they would all be in our favour.  We passed another three coming down whilst we were on our way up. There was an interesting boat moored above the second lock.

IMG_1473The hull of an old canal ice breaking boat?

Nick Wolfe and Alton was moored at the top of the flight.  He followed us all the way to Norton Junction where he winded.  It was a reasonably quick transit through Braunston Tunnel where we met an oncoming boat at each end.

On our way to the junction we passed a lady boater going in the opposite direction who called out she had read the blog.  By then it was too late to ask her name or read the boat name.  So thank you lady boater!

I was ¾ through the turn at Norton Junction when a small boat also appeared coming from the opposite direction.  Somehow we managed to avoid hitting each other.  We stopped at Weltonfield Narrowboats for a pump out.  Our last pump out was five weeks ago and the tank gauge was starting to flicker on half full.  At £20 it was one of our more expensive pump outs and a marked contrast with Hawne Basin at £8.50.

It was now noon and starting to get cold so we opted to moor below Watford Locks.  This appears to be a terrestrial TV black spot but we also have the ‘dot’.

IMG_1474This is almost exactly the same mooring as our last cruise this way in mid 2013. 

After lunch I walked up the flight and along the towpath as far as Crick Tunnel. 

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I don’t think the former lock keepers cottage at the bottom of the flight has road access.  You might be able to see the large motorhome and caravan storage park to the right

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Watford Gap is a low piece of land between an eastern and western range of hills.  The narrow gap forms a relatively flat north – south route.  Originally it would have been used by foot traffic and then horses, followed by stage coaches.  Then the canal squeezed through followed by the railway.  Finally the M1 motorway arrived.

IMG_1477After all the recent rain Crick Tunnel is going to be very wet!

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