Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tin Slug Syndrome as we head up the Rothersthorpe Locks.

After a very enjoyable, late and alcohol-fueled evening with Simon and Ros we were up early, Simon and I about half-six, the ladies a little later. The beautiful sunny morning beckoned us on, and we moved out of Northampton Marina at 9 o’clock.

Our last bit of the River Nene, under the Cotton End Bridge, past Carlsberg’s brewery and onto the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal.IMG_6461

“Probably the best lager in the world”
Other beers are available…

The entrance to the Northampton Arm lies discreetly on the left.

Lock 17 is only just around the corner and set the scene for the rest of the flight - empty!IMG_6465

There’s a whole lot of development going on in the city, apart from large residential complexes rising around the fringe, the derelict Nunn Mills is to be demolished in favour of a new University Campus, accessed by a new bridge across the river from Midsummer Meadows.

Nunn Mills, soon to go.

The first 5 locks are spread over 3 miles, the “thick” doesn’t start until after passing under the M1.

Definitely back on a canal…

We took it in turns on the tiller and working up the locks, Simon and Ros are competent boaters so can be left to it.


…or locking IMG_6476

Three-quarters of a mile of canal is occupied by the top 12 locks, and at the moment by a dredging crew too.

Under the fancy concrete bridge carrying the M1IMG_6479

There’s a memorial bench and a couple of clever wire-frame sculptures alongside lock 10IMG_6485

A kestrel perched on one of the three open lift bridges among the locksIMG_6481

We started to have water problems soon after passing under the motorway. The pounds were getting shorter… and shallower!IMG_6480
Simon started to run water down, and was soon joined by Mark from C&RT who went further up to open paddles on the higher locks. He didn’t have a windlass though, so borrowed one of ours. Luckily we have three!

So the next three pounds involved a slow scrape and slither across the silt and slime of the bottom of the canal. The cabin was soon filled with the musty, rotting vegetation aromas of the mud we were churning up.

None of us could understand why these pounds were so low, where the dredgers were working the water was flowing over the gates!IMG_6486

Now we had plenty of water we were held up a bit by the crew shifting a mud hopper, but once clear of that it was plain sailing.

A bit congested…IMG_6488

…stinky dredged silt

Unfortunately Meg took advantage of the delay to do a bit of dredging of her own…

Stinky dog!IMG_6493

And we’re off again! Mags was feeling a bit redundant so took the tiller for the last five locks.IMG_6492

We met a couple of downhill boats on this last stretch, too, so we didn’t even have to do much opening and closing of gates.

The top lock was the only one against us, being three parts full when Ros went up to open the gates. Strange, considering we’d only just passed that downhill boat… The mystery was solved when we realised that the lock crew had left a top paddle half up. It must have taken a while to empty the chamber, but the water was needed further down…

Lock 1, 17 done in a little under 4 hoursIMG_6495
It would have been quicker without the low pounds and dredgers!


From the top lock to Gayton Junction it’s about half a mile, passing Gayton Marina on the right…IMG_6498

…and C&RT’s Gayton Yard on the left just before the junction.IMG_6499

We turned to the right at the junction, heading north again now, and moored just before Bridge 47.IMG_6500

We’d had a couple of short showers that didn’t amount to much, mostly it’s been bright and breezy.

We sat down with a well-earned brew and bacon sandwiches before Simon rang a local taxi company to run them back to their car parked in Northampton.
We’ve had a really good couple of days, good company and an easy run up what would have been hard work on our own. Sorry to see them go, really, there’s seven broad locks to tackle at Buckby later in the week…

So now we’re back on the ditches for a while, after an enjoyable excursion on fresh waters for us. And a bit of salty water too! Plenty more river cruising yet, though. We’re heading up to Ripon so we’ve the Soar, Trent, Aire and Yorkshire Ouse to tackle before September. Bring it on!

Hi Carol. Yes, it's been a good trip, overall we've enjoyed it.

Locks 17, miles 5½ 


Tom and Jan said...

"Best lager in the world?" You must be a novice! :-)

Steve and Angela said...

Shortage of water on Rothersthorpe seems a daily occurrence. We had to sit in one lock for over 30 minutes whilst CRT let water down. No Problem had the same issue.