Welford

Well our internment at Yelvertoft for the winter is now over, and we are once again in cruising mode. The winter months have allowed us to conduct some essential maintenance tasks, and the boat has also successfully passed its first BSS (Boat Safety Scheme) check. We did manage a few days trips, along the Leicester section summit of the Grand Union, and we have survived unscathed, from the harshest winter we have experienced since owning the boat. The engine has been serviced, and we have restocked our supply of filters, oils and other consumables, ready for the year ahead. We have also purchased an anchor, which will allow us to use some of the river navigations from now on. Our departure day was set as Wednesday 21st March, but upon waking, we found the Marina had frozen overnight. Fortunately the sun was up, and after a few hours, the crust of ice had turned to mush and we were off. We were aiming for a regular mooring spot near bridge 28, and after cruising for an hour and a half, we reached it to find it empty of other boats. The following morning, we got underway after breakfast, heading for Welford Junction. There was no sun shining, and the wind had picked up a bit. It felt much colder. Not long after setting off, we noted two boats astern who seemed to be traveling a bit quicker than we wanted to. We pulled over to allow them past, then continued our slow dawdle. On arrival at the straight moorings prior to the Junction, we once again found it completely empty of other boats.

All alone at Welford Junction

After lunch we took four legs for a short walk, heading towards North Kilworth. This took us past the new Marina, which has been under construction for a few years. It has recently been filled with water so it must be getting close to completion, although there still seems a lot of work needed to finish it off.                           

North Kilworth Marina

We continued on to the Wharf opposite, and purchased some firelighters. We didn’t really need any, but we always try and support the smaller canalside businesses. Back at the boat we settled down for a peaceful afternoon. Friday 23rd March, after a solitary night we set off for Welford. Turning right at the Junction we soon encountered a work boat blocking the canal. The workers were busy clearing substantial overgrown vegetation. They moved their boat allowing us to continue our passage along the Welford arm, towards the single lock ahead. Once through the lock, we trundled along to the end of the arm and found it completely full. This is where all the boats are. We winded, and took a mooring just prior to the lock landing. With hindsight this is a better spot, and may well become our regular spot for future visits here.

Mooring at Welford Lock

After securing the boat we had lunch at Totty’s Tea Rooms, before returning to the boat for a relaxing afternoon. We will stay here for a couple of days, but keeping an eye of the changing forecast for the weather next week.

  • Totals Wed.    21/3. 3 Miles
  •           Thurs. 22/3.  5 Miles
  •           Fri.      23/3. 1 Mile 1 Lock

 

Welford Junction

Nearly a month has passed since our last post, so here is a bit of a catch up. Monday 9/10, we set off from Norton Junction heading for the staircase locks at Watford. On arrival we were first in the queue, so began our ascent almost immediately. We also had the assistance of not one, but two volunteers. Our transit of Crick tunnel was unopposed, although we did receive our customary drenching at the northern end, due to the leaky roof. We know we are close to our winter mooring spot, when the Yelvertoft Marina wind turbine comes into view.

Being not quite ready to give up cruising just yet, at the entrance to the Marina we carried on. On arrival at bridge 21, we found a favoured spot of ours vacant, so stopped for the day. The next day we set about a few maintenance tasks. The hull of the boat is coated in a two pack epoxy paint, which is significantly better and harder wearing, than the more traditional bitumen. However even with the most expert helmsmanship skills, scratches and scrapes do occur and these need attention to prevent rusting. The product we have chosen to use is Hempel Multicoat, and its application by roller was very straightforward. With the port side of the boat completed, the following day we travelled to bridge 28 and the winding hole. There were plenty of spaces available, so once the boat was secured it was time to tackle the starboard side. We had been fortunate with the weather, but the forecast was changing, so on Thursday 12/10, we headed back to Yelvertoft, and after visiting the services dock we berthed in our usual spot. Friday 13/10 was gloriously sunny, but the wind was very strong. We were so glad we hadn’t put off entering the Marina, as manoeuvring in these conditions would be next to impossible. It did not however prevent the next pre winter task, which was to wash the boat, and get a coat of protective wax applied. We now had a few days to kill before heading to Palma Mallorca for a long weekend.

 

 

 

 

All too soon our time in Palma visiting our son was over, and it was back to a dreary and increasingly colder UK. Back on the boat we were still not quite ready to stay put in the Marina, so on Wednesday 25/10, we headed out onto the cut once more. Our destination was back to bridge 21 a whole mile away, where I would stay whilst the crew popped home for a few days.

Mooring by bridge 21

  Me and the furry crew member enjoyed our respite, and also undertook a few more maintenance tasks. We also benefited from the clocks going back, enjoying an uninterrupted extra hour of sleep. The crew returned on Monday 30/10, then on Halloween we headed off for Welford Junction, a location sufficiently rural to avoid trick or treaters. On arrival we found a spot on the long straight section with mooring rings, and after securing the boat we went for a walk along the canal, to have a look at the progress of the still under construction North Kilworth Marina. The latest estimate for opening is Spring 2018. They still have a lot to do to meet that date. Wednesday 1/11, we moved off after breakfast, and at Welford Junction turned left heading towards Foxton. Soon we were entering Husband Bosworth tunnel, aware that CRT were conducting a tunnel inspection. We encountered the working boat in the middle of the tunnel and it bounced us hard into the tunnel wall. I was expecting to see damaged paintwork, when we emerged into the daylight, but fortunately we had escaped unscathed. The remainder of the cruise to Foxton Locks was pleasant, and after filling the water tank, we walked down the flight to the Foxton Locks Inn for lunch.

Taking on water at Foxton Locks

  Thursday 2/11, we took four legs for a walk down the flight of locks, turning around at Debdale Wharf a trip of about four miles. Back at the boat with the weather fine and dry, it was time to wash and wax the starboard side. This was the last of the exterior, winter maintenance tasks completed. Friday 3/11, we travelled back towards Welford. Our transit of Husband Bosworth tunnel was unopposed, and once through, we stopped at North Kilworth Wharf to obtain diesel and coal. We hope this small business survives the new Marina, when it eventually opens. Continuing on to the junction we turned left, and travelled the short arm, to the solitary lock and Welford. After winding at the end of the arm, we popped into the Wharf Inn for lunch. We also booked in for a Sunday roast.  Saturday 4/11, we took the furry crew for his daily walk, and opted to have a look at the nearby reservoir. whilst we don’t like wet weather it certainly needs a prolonged period of rain the replenish these levels.

Low water at Welford

  Over the past few days the weather has become distinctly colder and this morning was no exception. Up until now we have in the main relied on our diesel heater to warm up the boat but now the solid fuel stove has been put into use.

At lunchtime we wandered off to the Wharf Inn for our roast dinner. I opted for the pheasant and would thoroughly recommend it. Back at the boat we decided to move back to the junction in readiness for our return to Yelvertoft tomorrow.

Mooring at Welford Junction

   

  • Totals Monday.      9/10.         7 Miles 7 Locks 1 Tunnel
  •          Wednesday 11/10.        2 Miles
  •          Thursday.   12/10.        3 Miles
  •          Wednesday 25/10.        1 Mile
  •          Tuesday.     31/10.        7 Miles
  •          Wednesday.  1/11.        7 Miles 1 Tunnel
  •          Friday.         3/11.         8 Miles 1 Lock 1 Tunnel
  •          Sunday.       5/11.         1 Mile 1 Lock
  • Running total 266 Miles 60 Locks 14 Tunnels 

   

Elkington

Having spent a wet, and very windy Monday at Welford, it was time to move on. After breakfast we had the opportunity to test the reversing capabilities of our new axiom propeller, as we needed water and the water point was three hundred yards to our rear. I would like to report that I was able to reverse the whole distance, including rounding a slight bend, without the use of the front rudder aka the bow thruster, but alas it was not to be. Still whilst filling with water we were logged by the CRT boat checker, possibly for the first time this year, and then at 11 o’clock we were underway. The sun was shining but there was a slight breeze which was bitterly cold. We negotiated the single lock, and continued on towards the junction. We had considered turning right and popping along to Foxton for the day, but the weather tomorrow is not looking good. At the junction it was left, on a return journey towards Yelvertoft. We however were going to be stopping before then, at a frequent location of ours, near to bridge 27. Both the crew hopped ashore at bridge 33, in order to provide four legs with his exercise. Not long after, he was seen to be examining something in the hedgerow a little too closely. This usually means he has found something disgusting to stick his nose into. However on this occasion it turned out to be coiled grass snake, sunning itself in the spring sunshine. On arrival at our intended spot, we found we were alone and so had our choice of mooring. During the afternoon several boats have passed by with none stopping.  

 

  The views from our side hatch over the canal, show what a pleasant rural spot this is. It was on a visit to this spot over the winter, that cost me a propeller, so I am hoping whatever we hit has been moved since we were last here.  

  • Totals 7 Miles 1 Lock
  • Running total 22 Miles 2 Locks

Windy in Welford

Weekly update – Having spent 13 days moored in Yelvertoft it was time to move on. It was only a short hop to bridge 19 and the water point where we had a fill up. This seems to take anything between half an hour to 45 minutes. Oscar is usually off the boat during this time and not much escapes his attention, especially a dripping tap.

             Oscar testing the water quality

I should state that during our stay near Yelvertoft we visited the Knightley Arms P.H. for our Sunday lunch. I can say without doubt it was the best pub meal that we have had. Once the water tank was filled it was onwards towards a regular mooring spot near bridge 28. Although this is a nice south facing spot we only stayed one day.
Welford junction was our next port of call. There is straight stretch of canal with mooring rings just prior to the junction. We arrived here on the Friday and planned on staying the weekend. The mooring slowly filled and one boat in particular caught my attention. I went and spoke with the occupants and confirmed my initial thoughts. It was Ian and Irene from Free Spirit whose blog can be viewed in my blog list. It is great meeting fellow bloggers especially experienced ones who can give us advice about our new lifestyle. Free Spirit is our second blogger meeting, having met Seyella, also in my blog list a couple of weeks ago.
The weather on Saturday was a bit hit and miss with the rain, however it was really mild. Today we woke to clear blue sky and bright sunshine. The wind however was fairly blustery. Being Sunday it was pub lunch day, so we walked the couple of miles into Welford for lunch at the Wharf Inn. We found our usual table free and Oscar was remembered from last time. Following a visit to the village shop we returned to the boat for an afternoon of relaxing.
Our plan for the next week is to travel back to Foxton and stay there a while. This means an earlyish start tomorrow and the deployment of the tunnel light. This will however be weather dependant. Whatever happens, if the forecast is to be believed, then we don’t want to be moving on Tuesday.

Bridge 43 nr North Kilworth

Well after posting last night two boats turned up where we were moored so we were not alone for long.

Stayed in bed this morning as we could hear it raining outside. This stopped however after we got up so a quick breakfast then a short walk past the junction towards North Kilworth. We noted some mooring places but as we got to bridge 43 there was a secluded single spot available. A quick check with the compass showed that there were no trees in the line of sight to the sky satellite. We returned to the boat and brought her forward the half mile or so to what will be recorded in our route guide as a good spot.

                  Signpost left to Foxton,right to Welford and return to Norton Junction.

                              Oscar being walked to our next location.

                        Looking forward towards bridge and North Kilworth.

           View from above. No neighbours for the next few days unless on a small boat.
After securing the boat and lining up the sky dish it was lunchtime. Both of us are surprised how quickly the time seems pass. In the afternoon we walk upto the boat yard at North Kilworth to see what the facilities are like. We will need some of their services in few days time. Once back at the boat I put the chimney up just in case the stove needs to go on this evening. Oscar went to sleep on the sofa.

Totals 1/2 Mile