Sunday, 6 September 2015

Silent Boats and Creatures Galore

1st to 5th September 2015
Springwell Lock to Bulbourne Junction

Tuesday 1st September 2015
Springwell Lock to North Grove Lock
6.75 miles, 12 locks

This was the weather first thing this morning, so we waited until around 10:30 to set off but we did manage to stay dry all day.

Considering we were still inside the M25 this stretch is very scenic with some pretty locks.  The stretch through Cassiobury Park is particularly lovely - just a few shots en route today.  There is a very useful Tesco store with good moorings just before bridge 173.  Amazingly they were empty!

This is ornamental stone bridge was ordered by the Earl of Essex before he would allow the Grand Junction Canal Company to cut a navigation through Cassiobury Park which he owned.

At Lady Capels Lock we met this widebeam with an enormous number of youngsters doing what children should be doing - having fun.

We passed FreeSpirit just before Hunton Bridge Locks. Ian popped out to say hello, but Irene was off bug hunting.

We moored just before North Grove Lock where you can see the approach road for the M25 and the M25 itself (top right of the picture you can see a lorry on the M25 going over the approach road)

Wednesday 2nd September
North Grove Lock to Winkwell Swing Bridge
5 miles, 12 locks

The day dawned dry, but not particularly warm.  It was also another crew member's birthday - this time Boatwif.

Just after North Grove Lock we went under the M25 - definitely the best thing to do with this and most other motorways.

Just because I like the picture.

At the Red Lion Lock I noticed this sign
And the time we got there - 10:02, however there was nowhere to moor and no time to stop.  Peek through the hedge and you can see the pub.

By lock 67 I noticed these on the side of a building - I do wonder if the white one was ever red and has now faded?

Our first swing bridge for a long while safely negotiated.  The next task was to try and moor.  There was room for 1.75 boats, but that left Cleddau's stern on the landing for the swing bridge.  There was a small boat ahead of us and they kindly moved forward a bit to allow us more space.  In the end they decided to move on as they could not get the satellite TV to work, so we were able to shuffle up even further.

We needed to stay there as we were booked in to the Three Horseshoes for dinner to celebrate Boatwif's birthday.  The food was excellent and the prices were not bad at all.  The starters are 'English Tapas' - an interesting idea and one we all enjoyed.

Thursday 3rd September 2015
Winkwell Swing Bridge to Cowroast Lock
5.5 miles, 15 locks

All the locks along this stretch have steps to help one climb onto the lock to get across to the other side - Monty has decided that they were just put there for him to get a better view of what is going on on the other side!  What he has not done yet is climb across.

Second lock of the day and this camper did not make walking along that side of the lock very easy.  We were quite early, so probably disturbed his/her beauty sleep.

The Rising Sun Pub in Berkhampstead is offering free beer - there was small print, but I never got close enough to read what it said!

I was on the helm, hence no chance to read the sign.

Still in Berkhampstead, this is the Crystal Palace Pub, originally designed by Paxton of Crystal Palace fame. It was used regularly by canal boatmen until the 1970's when the narrow boat trade ceased through Berkhampstead.  In those days it was owned by "Charlie and Madge" and it still boasted sawdust covered floors, clog dancing and an accordion player.  I cannot find out who "Charlie and Madge" are, but some other information I have found says it originally had a glazed front inspired by Joseph Paxton's 1851 Great Exhibition Building.

The Berkhampstead Totem Pole is a genuine Canadian totem pole.  It was a gift to John Alsford when he owned the timber yard that was originally on the site where it stands.  It has four faces and is full of symbolism.  The carving is a fertility symbol and legend has it that women wishing to conceive should visit and make three wishes for the child they dream of!

There is a lovely looking park - in fact Berkhampstead looks like a rather nice town.

The Captain hard at work at a lock!

Gas Lock 2 is really pretty.
 Northchurch lock was where we saw the first pumping station - necessary to keep the water at the right level.

We arrived above Cowroast lock before 2pm where we found this cottage.  It sold by auction in July for £250,000.  It is grade II listed semi detached property.  The ground floor has a kitchen/diner, a sitting room and a bathroom.  The lower ground has the master bedroom, a dressing room, an en-suite bathroom, plus a sun room (the other side of the house is at a different level, so the lower ground is above ground if that makes sense?!) and the top floor has two bedrooms.

Cleddau managed to moor just past the winding hole before the marina whilst we went further along the cut and found a good sized mooring.  The reason for the split will become apparent in tomorrow's post.

Friday 4th September 2015

nb Cleddau waiting to get into the marina.  Their fridge had been playing up for a while and it was decided that a new one had to be sourced.  Natalie in the chandlery at Cowroast was really helpful and found what they wanted, ordered it and it was due to arrive by Fedex on Thursday - it didn't. It was then promised for midday on Friday - no luck.  It did, however, eventually arrive and they were able to move into the marina for it to be fitted.  The old fridge was dual gas and electric, so the gas had to be capped, hence the need for a professional fitter.

Whilst that was going on, Monty, Chris and I went for a walk.  As we crossed a field we were aware of a strange whistling noise behind the hedge.  I saw something move, so called Monty back and put his lead on.  It was a field of majestic alpacas.

They are very haughty looking, but very beautiful.

The whistling noise must have alerted the owner as she came out and into the field.  Once she was assured that the dog was on a lead and out of harms way she bent down to pick something up - something we could not see from our side of the field.  She carried this wonderful bundle towards us closely followed by Mum, Pickles, and then put him down for us to see.  One very small alpaca called Patrick who was less than 24 hours old.  Apparently all the rest are due to give birth any day.

Once the fridge had been successfully fitted nb Cleddau moved along the cut to moor in front of us.   It was after 6pm by this time, so a long day of waiting around for them.  A cup of tea and a Bacardi and Coke were ready for their arrival.  Both much needed - tea to thaw out a very cold Boatwif (even her nose looked cold!) and the Bacardi to help relieve the stress of the day for the Captain.

Now to those Silent Boats and a few others we have spotted over the last few days

First the silent boats - now how often do you come across a boat with no working engine?  For us probably never before, but this was two in two days!  At Lot Moor Lock this wide beam was being hauled in and out of the lock.  The man charged with moving her said the boat had been up to a marina to have her bottom blacked, but he had no idea why the owners did not get the engine fixed at the same time!

He hauled her out - the boat in front is waiting to tow her - apparently they did not have far to go, but before they could go on

he held over to the side to let us go into the lock

and then had to turn her round - something he did very well, so we reckon he must have done this sort of thing several times before.

The other 'silent boat' came along when we were moored at Winkwell.  Chris and Ken had gone to the pub (to check out the menu they said - believe that and you will believe anything!) telling Sue and I that someone would be coming along our gunwhales hauling a boat whose alternator was broken.  No problem we said.  I was working on the computer when I heard a loud splash.  Much too loud to be a swan landing, however, large.  I popped out to see what was happening to find a lady in the canal.  She was hauled out, refused the offer of a shower on nb Cleddau and continued to pull the boat along.  They were heading for Apsley Marina some 7 locks, 1 swing bridge and 2.5 miles away.  This was about 14:30, we think the lady did stop and change her clothes after the swing bridge, but it was still a very long way to go with many boats moored which are hard to get round.  Some were at least two abreast with a lot of things on the roof making it even more difficult.  It appears that they had gone nearly two miles and four locks when they passed FreeSpirit at 18:30 leaving almost a mile and 3 locks still to go - see HERE.  Not a journey for the faint hearted.

Not so silent - the wonderful unmistakeable noise of an old engine as this boat and butty went past. Built in 1905 and 1906 I believe.

When we saw this boat from a distance we wondered if it had belonged to Tommy Cooper?  No - it is an upside down chair.

I had to take this in honour of The Captain on Cleddau - Ken!

A bit different and one that took my fancy.

and this one that seems to be a mobile green house

Now to the creatures:  You have to watch out in these parts - I wonder what this monkey did to deserve to be hung?

There are crocodiles at Cassiobury Park Lock

A dinosaur hiding in the undergrowth

 and a bear in someone's back garden

And then a few gardens to exclaim about - you have to assume that these people do not want to see the canal and the boats as there is just so much growth the view must be totally obscured

We guess the big plant is a banana tree hence the yellow inflatable banana hanging from it's branches

This one has a good view, but the mess on the grass must be horrific.

and where did these people get the telephone box from?  It looks as though they use it as a mini greenhouse.

and finally a very full 'tropical' conservatory.

Saturday 5th September 2015
Cowroast to Bulbourne Junction
3 miles, 0 locks

We woke on a slant this morning - we were afloat at the front and back, so we let the boat drift out a bit and a largish branch floated out from the middle, so we assume that, as well as the canal being several inches down, was the cause of the problem.  Monty and I walked to bridge 137 - it was a full wash and scrub of my shoes when the boat arrived to collect us, but we enjoyed the walk. Found en route was The Hornet - a boat that started life as a Black Prince hireboat and was re-painted at Stoke Prior near where we live - we watched it for several months in (we think) the winter of 2014.  We last saw her in Worcester in June of this year. It would be interesting to know the route they took.

At the end of our walk our 'carriage' arrived to collect us

A flotilla of canoes came past - apparently a pub outing

Our mooring at Bulbourne Junction.

The first job was to get a taxi to take us to the Tesco store in Tring.  Ecocabs was the closest and one arrived fairly quickly.  We got there, but the car rattled a lot and the driver was somewhat garrulous at times and seemed a little impatient with the other traffic!  Shop over and we called the cab company and the same driver turned up - we got back safely and they certainly did not overcharge.  Lunch followed with the agreement that we would go out for a walk around 3pm.  I got up from my seat around 14:45 to get ready only to find that the stern was across the other side of the cut.  A boat had gone past rather fast, so we guess he was the culprit. Once we had retrieved the situation, got out the extra long pin and cross pinned stern and bow we set off on our walk.

Just the other side of the bridge is this wonderful building which used to be British Waterways work buildings, but is now a gallery of ironworks for the house and garden.

Did this lot come out of the canal we wondered?

On we went past the junction with the Wendover Arm

and this delightful lock cottage that is a B & B

With a very pretty garden

On to Startop's Reservoir that is full

and Marsworth that is not quite full

and then who did we spy - yes it is FreeSpirit again.  Apparently they passed us at 08:30 although none of us heard them toot.  We were up and Monty had been out, but we must have been busy getting ready for the day.

This heron completely ignored the bike as it zoomed past

Then we came to the junction with the Aylesbury Arm and some new build homes.  There is still evidence of builders on site and most are empty

This one is occupied and has some superb views.  It is, however, very open to public scrutiny

and in the few minutes we were looking at the first lock on the Aylesbury Arm they had shut up downstairs, so it is completely covered in wooden panels.  They are slatted panels, but we still think it must be dark inside with no view at all.  Not something that would suit me I am afraid.

This looks as though it will be a new facilities building.

and they have left an original crane.

This is the view of the first lock on the Aylesbury Arm

We crossed over the canal to walk back on the other side when we suddenly realised that the only way back was over a lock.  No problem for us, but Monty has never crossed one of these locks - well he has now!

When we got back to Bulbourne Junction we went for a swift drink at the Grand Junction Arms.  The menu looks good and a visit to the 'shore facilities' is a must!

A few boats spotted today - this to us looks like a floating caravan?

A Hippie Boat

And an Ovaltine Boat - nice boat, but disgusting stuff as far as I am concerned!!

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