On Friday we had a short day, leaving Berkhamsted at around half-ten, tying up again by half-twelve. Sue and Vic were heading south for a grand-daughter’s eighteenth, and where we stopped was handy for a bus into Hemel Hempstead and the railway station.
It was only a 5 minute trip to the first lock, Ravens Lane.
On the offside, above the lock, was the centre of canal activity for the town. Boatbuilders, wharves and a coalyard were located here.
Looking back at Castle Street Bridge, with the Berkhamsted Totem Pole on the left.
The totem is a genuine Canadian tribal artifact, commissioned by the owner of the timber yard that used to stand here, and carved by Chief Henry Hunt, of the Kwakiutl tribe of British Columbia.
Apart from being the (almost) birthplace of Francis Egerton, the “Canal Duke”, the town has another, earlier, claim to fame. Or infamy, in this case. It was here in 1066, that what was left of the Anglo-Saxon leadership surrendered the throne of England to the invading Normans. King Harold was killed at Hastings on the 14th October, and by the end of the month organised resistance ceased with the surrender. The new King’s half-brother, Robert of Montain, had the motte and bailey castle constructed.
On a lighter note the town had the first sheep-dip factory in the country!
Cruising through the town is actually very pleasant, the canal tree-lined and clean.
Approaching Rising Sun Lock
Below the lock the infant River Bulbourne joins from the south.
Bollards set in the bank of the stream suggest that it was navigable, at least for a little way. There was a smithy along here somewhere, and Cooper’s Lower Works was served by the canal, delivering coal, sulphur and arsenic, and taking away the finished sheep-dip mixture. I pity the sheep!
We topped up with water between Bridges 142a and 143, then pressed on, down Top Side Lock, under Bullbeggers Bridge (fantastic name, I wonder what the origin is?) and moored up.
Top Side Lock sports this notice on a balance beam…
…several of the locks are in a similar condition and are required to be left empty, including Bottom Side Lock, the next on down. Before tying up for the weekend we should have thought through the implications…
Boats coming up, having drawn a lock-full of water from the pound, then emptied the lock as per instructions. A boat heading in the other direction would expect to find a full lock, but no, it had been emptied by the opposing boat. So they, in their turn, had to draw another lock-full of water out of the pound. There were a lot of boats about on Saturday, and someone must have cocked up because we spent a fair proportion of the day leaning at a crazy angle having been deposited on the bottom. It wasn’t until later that the pound started to make up again.
The problem was towards to back of the boat, the deepest bit, of course. So I devised a Heath-Robinson arrangement involving two ropes and a mop handle to keep the stern out from the bank.
It worked, to a degree.
Needs development, methinks.
This chap spent most of the day quietly chuckling to himself at our predicament and my attempts to resolve it.
After a dull and occasionally damp weekend this morning was bright and sunny as we set off.
Bottom Side Lock
In contrast to the pound we’d moored in, these below were brimming with water.
Understandable, I guess.
We’d got off a little earlier than normal, we’d an appointment with Mr Tesco at Winkwell Swing Bridge. Of the four locks to Winkwell two were empty (as per instructions) and two were full and in our favour. So it wasn’t a difficult trip.
Groceries and wine and beer (lots of wine and beer, it seems!) loaded, we set off again. Vic walked ahead to open the mechanised bridge.
An unusually shapely aft swim on a boat at the yard below the bridge
Not only finely curved, I imagine it’s effective at feeding smooth water to the large propeller.
There were a pair of historic boats waiting to come up Winkwell Bottom Lock, so we were mob-handed as we dropped down.
Corona and Raymond waiting to go up as we pull out.
They’d been to the Rickmansworth Canal festival over the weekend, and were on their way to the crick Boat Show next weekend. All go, init!
Vic had a little trouble boarding…
By the time he’d got down the ladder NP had drifted into the middle of the lock so up he went again!
Another couple of locks saw us arrive at the top of Boxmoor, where we pulled in for the afternoon.
A bit arboreal so we're shaded from the afternoon sun, but there are accessible meadows beyond the trees, fine for the dogs.
After a glorious, sunny day we were treated to the mother of all hailstorms this evening.
Glad we weren’t travelling in that!
Locks 7, miles 3