As planned we were off early this morning. It was pleasant climbing the 7 locks up to Stoke Bruerne before it got too hot, but others had the same idea.
In the Stoke Bruerne flight
We met 3 or 4 boats coming down, and caught up with another 2 just below the top lock.
Out of the top lock.
The Navigation Inn is on the left, the museum on the right.
Weighing lock at Stoke Bruerne top lock.
This was used to weigh loaded boats, from which the weight of any cargo could be calculated. It was on this weight that tolls were paid. The empty boat would have been “gauged” and certified on launching.
The highlight of the day happened just as we were pulling in above the top lock to have a look around. The bow of a working boat appeared around the corner, accompanied by a plume of smoke from the stack.
President and Kildare
It was NB President and butty Kildare, heading south after being at the Braunston Historic Boat weekend. President is unique in that it’s the only remaining steam powered narrowboat on the network.
Breakfast at Stoke Bruerne. The kettle's boiling!
Single cylinder 7” bore x 9” stroke Sissons steam engine delivers 12/14 hp at 150 RPM.
The engine isn’t the original, unfortunately. The boat was built with a Haines Engine, manufactured under licence by the canal company Fellows, Morton and Clayton.
They’re on a centenary cruise, now heading down to the London Canal Museum at Battlebridge Basin on the Regents Canal, out onto the river at either Limehouse or Brentford (depending on the weather), and upstream to The Thames Traditional Boat Rally, at Henley.
Then continuing on to Oxford, up the Oxford Canal and back to Braunston, then the Leicester Line to Nottingham to attend the IWA National Festival at Red Hill Flood Lock at the top of the River Soar. From there its back to The Black Country Museum via the Trent and Mersey and Staffs and Worcester Canals.
On the way down in Stoke Bruerne Top Lock
After all the excitement we had a cooling off 40 minutes in Blisworth Tunnel.
We’d been warned that it was very wet in there, with water coming through the roof in several places, even though we’ve had a very dry spell. But we only met 2 other boats coming the other way, so I was able to go around most of the heavy deluges.
Snapshot of one of the airshafts.
Out of the tunnel.
The few minutes we spent underground were the most comfortable I’ve had in the last 3 days!
The canal doglegs around the village of Blisworth, before arriving at Gayton Junction.
Here the Northampton Arm branches off to the north and east, dropping through 17 narrow locks to the town and the River Nene, and thence to the Fens. Another time for us.
We pulled over on a likely spot about ¾ mile further on. We may take a day off tomorrow, we’re on the fringe of an area of heavy showers due.
It’s been a little cooler this morning, but it’s making up for it this afternoon.
Locks 7, miles 5¼