When You’ve Finished With That Lock! 23rd June

Berko to Margees Garden, Cheddington Bridge

Time to get going but first to fill the water tank. This is the emptiest it’s been, an exclamation mark had come on on the gauge! With wanting to use the dish washer and washing machine we needed water sooner rather than later so nothing for it but to reverse back to the water point. We pushed off and despite the strong breeze and aided by the bow thruster Mick took us backwards in one go, like cutting butter with a hot knife. Once the hose was filling the tank you could hear just how empty it was.

P1060239smP1060241smWith the dishwasher on drying mode the washing machine could go on and had done it’s first fill before we pushed off again. Good job the water pressure was good here. Onwards and upwards. First the Gas Locks, both were full and I could see a boat at the top, so I opened the top gates and we waited for them to come down. The by wash was running furiously which caused a bit of a problem with the two boats coming down. A discussion had been had that the day boat should go first as they were continuing, he’d spotted the by wash, but then didn’t move. The other boat then started to leave the lock, all it’s crew were on board then joined by the day boat who had to stop to pick up crew. The bywash pushed both boats over towards our bow leaving little room for manoeuvring. Eventually everyone was back on the right boats and heading away from the lock, peace returned. Upwards for us.

P1060244smAt the second lock the Lockie from the other day appeared. The pound we’d got stuck in two days ago was low again, so he was letting water down from the top. Today he had no help as all the other lockies were helping to erect an aluminium bridge on the Aylesbury arm. So he was working his way up and down the locks between Cowroast and Hemel to restore the levels. As soon as we were through he emptied the lock. Next lock up he appeared again as if by teleport. We waved our goodbyes and thanked him for the other day. At Northchurch Lock there was one coming down and another waiting above, both looked narrow, so I didn’t understand why they weren’t sharing. Once we were up I asked if they needed both gates open, no umming from this lady, ‘Both please, we’re eight foot wide’. Too wide to share and only an extra foot more space for all the extra work.

P1060246smP1060248smWe could see that Dudswell Bottom Lock had boats in it as we approached, not sure which way they were facing I walked up to see if I could help. NB Nomad and NB Goblin were sat in the lock almost at the top, but all gates and paddles were closed. The two chaps were pawing over a Nicholsons and in deep discussion. When they noticed me they were apologetic and got ready to move their boats out of our way. I went up to open the gates, but they had been there so long that the level had dropped by at least a eighteen inches! They apologised again and I was told I was a hero, ‘Just don’t do it again at the next one!’

They moved on up and I reset the lock for us. By the time we were up and moving along the pound I could see that there was only one of the boats in the lock, blimey only two locks to the summit, but how long would this take us! However one boat was stopping for some lunch and the other was waiting for us. Up the last two locks in no time and on the summit pound, where we decided to stop for some lunch ourselves. NB Nomad carried on with the aim of stopping at Marsworth tonight. Our aim was similar but after a phone call from the agents who look after our house, we decided that we should get a move on as a visit to Scarborough would be needed next week, meaning we’d loose another days cruising.

P1060270smP1060273smAcross the three mile top and we started our descent down the other side. I would set the lock, open a gate and then leave Mick to start coming down so that I could walk ahead to set the next lock, returning to let him and Oleanna out and close the lock behind. I’d then leapfrog and set the next one down. After three locks we had caught up with NB Nomad. I carried on going ahead to set the next chamber as the boys brought themselves down and opened one gate, I then returned to close that behind them. Mr Nomad was pleased with his locking partners and as everyone was doing their bit I reckon we got down the flight quicker than if we’d been on our own.

P1060300smWe carried on wanting to get a bit further along before stopping for the day and waved goodbye to NB Nomad. The bell ringers were starting to practice as we passed the village, the sound being swept along by the stiff breeze. We’d already had to put an extra layer on! Down the last two locks of the day we meandered along for half a mile more and then pulled up at the bottom of the Margees garden. Here we were ahead of our selves and could get a Saturday paper in the morning before setting off again.

This evening we’ve been in conversation with Bridget and Storm with the aim of booking our passage to cross the Ribble Link. On C&RT’s booking page neither of our boats had our draughts marked. We both put in the dimensions we thought that we were, but these were both too deep to make the booking! We will both double check how deep we are and reconvene tomorrow to hopefully make our booking. Reading up on it lots of people say they have managed fine being deeper than the recommended depth. Fingers crossed!!!

P1060250smDSCF7114sm16 locks, 7.84 miles, 6 locks shared, 6 water riding cygnets, 1 dog pooh incident, 2 wrongs don’t make a right! 1 nice lockie, 1 beautiful UGLY cat1 grey day, 2 boats hogging a lock, 2 jumpers, 1 house needing it’s owners, 2 boaters now on a mission, 2 annoyed blackbirds, 4 cute baby blackbirds, 0 friends thankfully.