Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Mind the Gap…

Watford Gap, of course. We came through this centuries-old route today, climbing the Watford flight of locks. The low saddle between rising ground to the east and west has seen the Saxons, Romans, canal navvies, railway engineers and motorway builders. All taking advantage of an easy route north to south, or vice-versa.

We left our mooring near the junction at around 10:15, in dull and misty weather. Under Bridge 10 a hard left turn took us off the Grand Union main line and onto the Leicester Line.

Bridge 1, Leicester Section/Line/Branch of the Grand Union Canal
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We reached the bottom of the Watford Locks after about an hour, and were delighted to see no queue, just one boat filling with water after coming down.

Bottom of Watford LocksIMG_1475

Booking in, the lock-keeper told us to wait for one descending boat then to go straight on up. Excellent!

The Watford Locks consist of two single chambers at the bottom, a staircase of three chambers in the middle topped off by another single. So there’s usually a lockie in attendance in the “season” to organise things.

Having left the second of the lower two locks, Mags lines up for the bottom of the staircase.IMG_1477

Up the staircaseIMG_1478

Each chamber leads directly into the one above, making a steep ascent in a short distance, but boats obviously can’t pass here. To save water side–ponds are utilised in a clever bit of hydraulic engineering.

Out of the top (single) lock
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And that was it for the day, really. Just another ¼ mile and we pulled up, before Bridge 8. You can still hear the M1 from here, but it’s not too bad.

Tomorrow will be an even shorter day; just 2½ miles to Crick. Over a third of that will be spent in the damp darkness of Crick Tunnel.

Hi Steve and Ang. just 10 days eh (9 now, I guess). Bet you’re excited, but as you say, you’ll miss the hills. Coming from the Yorkshire Dales (a bit smaller, I know), I have to get my hill-walking fix when we pop home, or up on the Macc. I hope your new life is everything you expect, will look out for you on the cut. Enjoyed reading the blog so far, some sound advice there. Keep it up.

Locks 7, miles 3

5 comments:

Adam said...

You've missed one! There are four locks in the staircase.

nb Chance said...

Hi Geoff and Mags.... It looks like we can meet up again! as we are heading up the Soar to MGM, now at Ragley Boat stop, perhaps we can arrange to meet and you come to us for dinner? Shall be at MGM from the weekend until 11th Sept. Be great to see you both again

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Adam, oh yeah, 2+3+1 is only six! Doh!
Thought it seemed a long way up...

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Doug, James. I think we may miss you this time. We're in Crick Marina for the weekend, then we'll take a steady run over the summit and onto the Soar. I wouldn't expect to be at Thurmaston till the middle of the month at the earliest. Shame. Next time, eh.

nbtumbleweed.com said...

Hi again,
Thanks for the kind words. Its a mixture of excitement and trepidation, but I would be worried if I wasn't worried !
Steve and Ang