Monday, June 08, 2009

Main Lining

We stayed put over the weekend. Saturday was damp all day, and we had thunderstorms early on Sunday. But the day brightened later, so I was able to get an engine oil change done, a few hours overdue.
Meg has really enjoyed herself here. Just alongside our mooring there’s an extensive park, so we’ve spent a lot of time playing ball.

Meg in the park

In some woodland just along from us there is a roost for a flock of green parrots. They’re quite shy, staying high up in the branches and making them difficult to spot. But they do make an awful lot of noise!

They are parrots, honest!

A local woman, walking her dog, told me that they’ve been around for a few years, and nest in an electricity pylon on the other side of the canal.

There’s a Tesco and a B&Q only about 15 minutes away, so I made a couple of visits that way.

We were up and away by 09:30 today. A cool overcast start, but the day steadily brightened and we finished up with odd glimpses of the sun.

Away from the weekend mooring.
Back down to Bulls Bridge Junction, where we turned right onto the Main Line of the Grand Union Canal.

Stainless steel heron sculpture.
Onto the Main Line.
At the junction we came across Elsdale II, a floating classroom funded by charitable donation. This is the way forward, I think, to get people to appreciate the canals more. Catch ‘em young!

A couple of miles from the junction we passed one of rare sights on today’s inland waterways; a working wharf. This is for gravel for the local concrete works. It’s brought down the 5 miles (and 2 locks) from Denham.

Gravel Wharf
It’s carried on Colne….
And Frays
From here.
Waterscape have an upbeat story from 2003 here.
And a slightly less enthusiastic one (that also explains the rather odd fore to aft trim of the barges) here.

The Slough Arm branches off to the left at the delightfully named Cowley Peachey Junction.

5 miles to Slough and The Office.
There’s a large marina and lots of moored boats along here, including a fine example of a Dutch sailing Tjalk.

Houseboats and Flying Sailing Dutchman

Shortly after the junction we arrived at our first lock for several days, Cowley Lock. A boat was just coming in, after filling the lock. The waterfall over the lower gates looks interesting!

Cowley Lock
We had a 10 minute wait while he dropped down, then we were joined in the lock by another narrowboat, NB Valerie May, coincidentally also fitted out at Orchard Marina, about 3 years ago. They moor on the Macclesfield Canal and have 2 extended cruises a year, in spring and autumn, thus avoiding the busy summer period.
They left us behind as we pulled in at the sanitary station at the top of the lock.

More moored boats on both sides of the canal as we moved on through Uxbridge, including fellow blogger Ernie on NB Ten Bob Note.
We passed on the Paddington Arm, but didn’t exchange more than hellos. Couldn’t see any sign of life today. Maybe we’ll get a chance to chat further up the Grand Union.

We shared Uxbridge Lock, but had Denham Deep Lock to ourselves. At 11’1” this is the deepest on the Grand Union, but remarkably well behaved.

Denham Deep Lock
If we are solo going up in broad locks I use a technique that usually works, with varying degrees of success. Today it worked faultlessly.
First I open the ground paddle on the same side as the boat, then, as the water reaches the top cill, I cross over and steadily open the gate paddle on the opposite side. So long as the boat is far enough forward, both of these flows keep the boat pinned to the lock wall. As the lock fills I can then open the other ground paddle, then finally the other gate paddle. The boat will probably move across the lock in the end, but only gently, as the turbulence in the lock will have subsided.

We moved on another few minutes, and moored up. We’re right alongside Denham Country Park, an area of rivers, woodland and meadow, and Meg and I had an enjoyable hour exploring before tea.

Locks 3, miles 9½

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