Saturday, July 25, 2015

Onto the Leicester Line summit level.

Cold, wet and miserable. The description of yesterday’s weather could equally well have applied to those hapless boaters who braved the conditions. Needless to say, we weren’t amongst them!
Pretty well non-stop rain and a cold wind forced me to take the almost unprecedented step of lighting the stove in July. We weren’t the only ones; several boat chimneys were sporting streamers of smoke.

Today, though still cooler than we’d have liked, is at least dry and sunny. In fact out of the wind and in the sun it’s been warm.

Several boats had passed this morning in both directions before we pulled pins and set off towards Watford. It would have been nice to get moored at Crick in time to watch the qualifying sessions for tomorrows Hungarian Grand Prix, but with this many boats about I didn’t hold out much hope.

Dappled sunshine replaces pouring rain under the trees.IMG_6553

Meg and I had taken a short circular walk first thing, crossing a couple of fields of ripening barley. The early sun made the rippling pasture glow with gold, but I hadn’t my camera. You’ll have to make do with a poor substitute taken later from the canal.

Fields of gold?

About an hour saw us arrive at the bottom of Watford Locks. I expected to be joining the end of a queue and was pleasantly surprised to see empty moorings below the bottom lock. A walk up to chat to the duty lock-keeper brought more good news; we just had to wait for a downward boat to exit the bottom, then we could start up.

Swapping locks between locks 1 and 2IMG_6557

Looking up the four-rise staircaseIMG_6558

The locks here are arranged with two single chambers at the bottom, the staircase in the middle followed by a single again at the top. Built to narrow gauge to save money and water like Foxton Locks at the northern end of the summit level, there were plans to replace them with a boat lift when the Foxton Inclined Plane was constructed. This would have allowed broad-beam vessels to navigate from London to the northern canals, a trip only possible now with a coastal voyage from the Thames estuary to the Wash.
Events overtook the project and the railways soon became the preferred form of haulage. The Watford inclined plane was never built, and the Foxton one, full of promise when it was opened in 1900, only operated for 11 years before being mothballed and the flight of locks alongside returned to use.

Free boat wash in the staircase

We were alongside the wharf at the top filling with water just 40 minutes after starting up.IMG_6560

There are some good moorings on the length between the lock and Crick Tunnel, we’ve stopped here before but not today, we needed the shop at Crick. So we pushed on, just another half an hour before passing through the 1528 yard long tunnel.

I thought we’d made it without meeting another boat, but one came in from the other end when we were about two-thirds through. Didn't touch the sides or the boat. Chuffed about that.

Looking back through Crick Tunnel, the other boat in silhouette against the south portal.IMG_6562

We were pulling in on the moorings opposite Crick Marina at just before 1 o’clock. Time to get the aerial up and watch the qualifying after all. It’s busy along here, more boats than I expected. Start of the holiday season now, though.

Thanks, Michael, for putting me straight on the railway thing. Duly noted and corrected...

Locks 7, miles 5

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Hello Both,
We had our heating on too this day. Then it was fabulously sunny the next then another day filled with cabin fever and the heating went on again for an hour THREE TIMES.
Send fondest felicitations to Margaret from us,
Lisa & David "Wallies"
NB What a Lark