Monday, August 13, 2012

Change in the air…

Well, it couldn’t last, could it. The weather is getting “unsettled” again this week, that’s weatherman speak for “it might rain, it might not, it might be sunny, or a bit windy… or all three”.

We stayed put yesterday. I had a long run first thing, had breakfast, took Meg out for a walk then settled down to watch the men’s marathon, the final athletics event of the Olympics.
The favourites were the Kenyans or the Ethiopians, so it was a surprise when Stephen Kiprotich from Uganda broke away and left the Kenyans standing. A surprise for him too. He kept looking over his shoulder, expecting to see either Kipsang Kiprotich or Kirui come romping up. He seemed completely overawed when he finally crossed the line.

It’s been an epic (eh, George) two weeks, a massive achievement for the organisers and the athletes. Well done Team GB!

We got away about 08:30 today, with two miles to go to the bottom of Watford Locks. It’s a pleasant short trip, so long as you remember the earplugs.

Heading towards Watford LocksSAM_2229 Heading to Watford
At one point the canal is just yards from the M1, the railway and the A5.

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Watford Locks are a combination of three single locks, with a four chamber staircase amongst them.

The bottom two single chambers at WatfordSAM_2230 watford Locks
The four-rise staircase makes efficient use of water, with side-ponds holding water dropping down the flight. Going up, the chamber above empties into the side-pond which is used to fill the chamber you’re in. When the levels are equal the gates are opened and the boat moved through to the next chamber, and the process repeated.

SAM_2232 watford Locks

Looking across to the side ponds from the staircase.SAM_2233 watford Locks

Looking back down from Lock 6SAM_2235 watford Locks

The total height gained is 52’6”, taking the canal up to the summit level at 412 feet.

Looking back at Watford Top LockSAM_2236 watford Locks
It took less than an hour from booking in with the lockie to getting on our way from the top lock.

The next bit of excitement comes in the form of another tunnel, this time at Crick. It can come as a bit of a surprise, lurking around the corner as you come under Bridge 10.

Bridge 10 and Crick TunnelSAM_2239 Crick Tunnel
You can just see the spot of light at the further end of the tunnel. Unlike Braunston, this one is dead straight, and also unlike Braunston, is known for being wet. It didn’t let us down…

Nearing the northern end, a replaced section of roof above.SAM_2248 Crick Tunnel

It was a bit drippy….SAM_2249 Drips

Crick Wharf is on the right as the tunnel cutting is cleared, then there’s the large Crick Marina with a popular length of moorings opposite.

Crick WharfSAM_2250 Crick Wharf

The summit pound is 20-some miles long, with a short arm to Welford.
Crick is the first, and longest, of three tunnels. The canal winds around the undulations in the terrain, until it meets a ridge that is un-bypass-able. Then a tunnel was cut.

Meg and I got off for a stretch of the legs around Crack’s Hill, a tree capped dome of rock to the east of the canal.

Mags takes Seyella past Crack’s HillSAM_2255 Cracks Hill
We made a quick stop at Yelvertoft to fill up the water tank, then carried on, aiming to moor at Mountain Barn Bridge. But the grey clouds were looking threatening as we came through Smart’s, Bridge 24, and there’s a pleasant strip of piling here, so we pulled in.

Moored near Bridge 24SAM_2257 Near Br 24

I’ve spent the afternoon working on the roof of the boat. I cleared it off and spent a couple of hours giving it a well overdue scrub. This revealed a few rusty chips that I’ve scraped out and treated ready for priming. It also revealed that it’s getting time to repaint the whole thing. The paint is getting thin in places, the sand used to make the non-slip surface starting to show in heavily trafficked areas. I’ll probably use a darker colour, too, one that won’t show the dirt so quickly. The roof is a job I‘m quite happy to do myself, but the cabin sides I’m not so sure about. They could do with freshening up after 7 years, but I don’t think I’m skilled enough. There’s no rust or damage to speak of, so maybe a professional job wouldn’t be too expensive. Next year…

Locks 7, miles 8½

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