Willoughby

Today would be a long day by our standards. It was again misty, with a bit off a chill in the air, but this would be favourable for the crew, who had two lock flights consisting of, the seven narrow locks at Watford, and the six wide locks at Braunston to work. On arrival at the top of the Watford staircase we met the on duty lock keeper. He had seen us coming, and was already preparing the lock for us. He wasn’t the most talkative soul, in fact I think he only said two words during our transit of the flight. He did however make up for his lack of chatiness, by working us down the entire flight. This is a first at this flight, and as such our descent only took about 30 minutes. We then headed towards Norton Junction and the Grand Union Canal mainline. Turning right at the junction, we headed towards Braunston and the tunnel. As we were approaching the tunnel entrance, two boats pulled away in front of us. You could almost see them rushing to untie their ropes as we approached. The reason is, the flight of locks ahead, would now all be set against us, rather than them. Our transit through the tunnel was uneventful, with only a single boat opposing, and then we arrived at the top of Braunston locks. So now, not only did we have two boats ahead of us, but it was also apparent they were both single handed. This was going to be painfully slow. It was however nearly lunchtime, and the Admiral Nelson PH is located by lock three. Decision made, we tied up and walked off down the flight for lunch.

After lunch we returned to the boat, and as luck would have it three boats we making their way up the flight. This meant three locks were ready for us as we approached them. Once through the bottom lock we chugged along on tickover, passing numerous moored boats, and as we approached The Boathouse PH we saw the crew of nb Castallan. We slowed for the briefest of chats, then it was onwards passing Braunston Turn and the Oxford Canal heading off towards Napton. Just a mile outside Braunston, adjacent to the village of Willoughby, is a lovely rural spot and this is where we stopped.

The views above are from the side hatch, however as I write this the sky has turned black, and the sound of rolling thunder can be heard in the distance. We are not sure yet whether to stay put here for a day, or push on to Brinklow and All Oak Wood tomorrow.

  • Totals 8 Miles 13 Locks 1 Tunnel
  • Running total 37 Miles 15 Locks 2 Tunnels

Willoughby/Barby

This morning, the mist floating over the canal as the sun began to rise made getting up early worth the effort. We slipped away from our mooring at 8 am for the short 100 yards journey to the water point. We needed nearly a full tank, and it was a slow filling tap so it was 45 mins till we were off. We turned right at the junction onto the G.U. main line and saw that there was a boat ahead of us by 400 yards or so. This I hoped would be our locking partner for the wide locks at Braunston. As we travelled through Braunston tunnel, I could see the boat ahead slowing due to an oncoming boat. Then we heard the bumps. It gave me a clue what to expect, and sure enough we got bumped too. It was a Napton narrowboats hire boat, and they clearly did not realise that slowing down a bit might help. Thankfully we did not meet them at the well known kink in the tunnel so it was only a glancing blow. Emerging into the daylight we soon arrived at the locks which were set for us. Nb Eleanor was to be our locking partner through Braunston locks. I suspect we may see them again over the next few weeks as they are also heading north towards Liverpool.

       

       
Immediately after the bottom lock is a chandlers. We needed some adhesive treads for our steps so a brief stop was made. We then continued on through Braunston, breathing in deeply as we past the Gongoozerlers Rest, the smell of cooked bacon ready to tempt you. Braunston as expected was busy with not much space to moor, not that we were stopping anyway. At the junction, we turned right and joined the Oxford Canal. Leaving Braunston behind the sun broke through the clouds and we began looking for a place to stop. We are now moored in a nice rural spot, roughly midway between the villages of Willoughby and Barby. 
       
We will stay here till Thursday, then we head off for Hillmorton locks and All Oak Wood beyond. I might even have another go at fishing. Whilst writing this Nb Eleanor passed by so if you read this it was nice meeting you and maybe we will see you again.

Totals 5 Miles 6 Locks 1 Tunnel