Monday, June 15, 2009

Busy Weekend

Our Friday night mooring wasn’t the sort of place to stay the weekend, so we moved on on Saturday morning. We made a quick stop on the visitor moorings below Aspley Locks for shopping, then above the locks for water and rubbish disposal. The moorings below the locks are right alongside the car parks for Sainsburys, Argos, Homebase, Currys, Comet…. Quite handy really. But not where you’d want to stay overnight. It looks the sort of place that changes character with the fading of the light…..

The town in general is pleasant, there’s lots of boats moored up and down the towpath.

Apsley Lock Marina is small but neat, redeveloped with apartments around the basin.
In Apsley Locks
We were caught up by another boat while filling the water tank, so were able to share the rest of the locks out of the town.
The couple, on NB Aquilla, were just out for the weekend, from the marina.

We pulled in above Boxmoor Top Lock, out in the country but unfortunately close to the busy railway. But you can’t have everything. The line runs close to the canal for quite a way along here. Same solution to the same problem. The canal builders looked for the most gentle contour, and the railway builders did the same thing.

Looking for a lost ball. Meg supervising.
Houseboat below the lock. I’ve a suspicion she’s sat on the bottom…
Saturday afternoon we spent setting up the new TV we’d got from Argos. We’d bought one with a Freeview Tuner built in, so we could dispense with the digibox. It’s a bit more fiddly to tune than the old one, though.

Sunday dawned hot and sunny, and Meg and I had a good walk back towards town then around Boxmoor, the open common area south of the canal. The rivers Gade and Bulbourne join here.
After breakfast I decided to clear out the front well deck, and give it a good cleaning. With everything out, it looked in a bit of a state, with rusty patches where the paint had worn off over the last couple of years. It was such a fine day that I plunged in, ground out the rusty bits, and got 2 coats of red primer on the whole of the area. Recoating the seats/steps in blue cuprinol made the well look much improved. I need to put a couple of top coats on the deck when I get the chance, but instead of blue I’m going for a traditional “Raddle Red”. This gives the same effect as red lead primer, often used on the decks of working boats, but is as durable as enamel.

Today we wanted to push on up the remaining locks to the summit, stopping in Berkhamsted to visit the Post Office where our mail was waiting for us.
So we were off at 09:00, expecting to have a weary road up the 15 locks. Up to now we’ve had most of them against us, often with the top gates left open as well. But today proved to be a change for the better. Yes, there were some locks against us, with water pouring over the gates, but most were in our favour, making it so much easier than it has been, even though we didn’t have the opportunity to share any.

A welcome sight. One of the Winkwell locks, empty and with a gate open ready for us.
Not quite so welcome. There’s a lot of water coming down…
Houses that have gardens running down to the River Bulbourne, at Bourne End, make the most of the natural water feature.
Unusual paintwork on NB Africa.
We were advised against overnight mooring in Berkhamsted, although we’d no intention of doing so anyway. But we were pleasantly surprised, expecting the worse. The town really takes the canal to it’s heart, with interpretation boards on the towpath, and historical sites identified.

Into Berkhamsted.

Castle Wharf
Francis Egerton, 3rd (and last) Duke of Bridgewater lived at Ashridge House, to the north of the town. Known as “The Father of Inland Navigation”, he was responsible for building the first canal in England, the Bridgewater Canal, running from his collieries in Worsley to Manchester.

Plaque on bridge
The canal rises steadily up through the town, to the summit level at around 400 feet. There are a pair of locks at Dudswell, both in very attractive settings.

Dudswell Bottom Lock
Dudswell Top Lock
There’s a floating blacksmith in the pound between them.

We pulled over between the top lock and Cowroast Lock. It has been a very warm, humid day, and the forecast showers arrived at tea time. And did they arrive! Torrential rain, then hail! It’s faired up again now, the clouds have broken up and it feels less oppressive.

Hail storm through the window.
Locks 21, miles 7½ (Saturday and today)

Damn, my mouse has just packed up.... it couldn't have happened on Saturday when I could've got a new one. That would have been too easy....
Stuck with using the touchpad. Still, that's better than that silly twiddly joystick thingy in the middle of the keyboard that earlier Toshibas had!

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