To The Summit. 21st June

Lock 35 to Grand Junction Inn, Tring Summit

The lock ahead had remained empty overnight, the chink of light through the gates inviting us in. Someone else got there before us as we ate our breakfast. I had a few email bits and bobs to sort for panto, so whilst I worked through these Mick rolled back the covers in readiness. Another boat came past heading uphill followed by two coming down. It was now set in our favour.

Waiting for the lock

We were all ready, suncream applied by 11:30, all we needed now was a boat to share with. There was one on it’s way, all the way from The Globe at Linslade. They left at 8am so their ETA was midday, a message came through that they’d just come up lock 33, half an hour away, bang on schedule. We waited. At 11:50 we decided to pull up onto the lock landing, but as soon as the decision had been made a boat appeared above and started to fill the lock. Oh well.

Just before midday two crew members appeared along the towpath. Our locking partners were arriving. The lock took ages to fill and the single hander coming down took his time to enter the lock and to exit it. Mick waved our partner into the lock, the sound of her Russell Newbury DM2 engine getting closer. Marianne stepped off with their centre line to pull her into the side so that Mick could bring Oleanna in next to Tyseley.

Tyseley in first

Last night we’d realised we’d be covering some of the same locks as Tyseley today so I’d sent a message to ask if we could share with them up to the summit. ‘Always happy to share’ was Marianne’s answer. With five crew on Tyseley and the two of us the locking was easy.

Up we go

It just took a bit of time to get Tyseley into the locks. At 71ft 10″ she has a bit of room to spare in the locks, no bow thruster just hard work on the tiller, push push pushing to get her to turn. At the age of 84 she’s allowed to take her time as 2 year old Oleanna came gliding into locks next to her.

Oleanna happy with her new friends

The crew on Tyseley are the four actors, Josh, Chris, Liz, Rachel along with Marianne the Artistic Director of Mikron. 18 years ago Marianne toured as an actor with the company, she now runs it along with Pete Toon the Producer, also her husband. This is Chris’s second tour, the others have only been boating for a matter of weeks, since leaving Welford.

Waiting for the next lock

Marianne or Pete will stay with them as they move Tyseley until everyone is happy. We’d wondered why this period was so long, now we know. Leaving a narrowboat with new crew is one thing, leaving an historic narrowboat with her peculiarities is another. They are all capable at the helm, it’s just when there are problems.

The house the Margees built

We worked our way up the top two Seabrook Locks, Josh going ahead to swing the swing bridge. As we came round the bend after the railway bridge we were glad we’d not continued to there yesterday. No space opposite the Margees old house (Alison and Laura from NB Large Marge). The house next door is up for sale, from the canal you can hardly see it, but the estate agents blurb shows it to be a huge house.

Low pound

The next two locks have a short pound between them, this is nearly always low, today it was even lower. We were joined here by Steve a Mikron volunteer who’d moved the van this morning up to the next venue for them and then walked down the flight to lend a hand. I walked up to the second lock, closed the top gates and emptied it. When Tyseley came to exit the lock she grounded on the cill, more water required. Steve and I lifted paddles and waited to see her move. It took a few minutes but then there was progress. However she ground to a halt again just before the top lock.

Just enough water to get her into the lock

Another wash down of water got her afloat enough to get over the bottom cill, but the shallow water made her hard to steer and she just did what she felt like. it took a while for her to actually go forwards and clear the gates.

How many people have wanted to live here?

The lovely thatched cottage in Marsworth is also for sale. This is a much photographed cottage which is deceptively big. Details here.

The new buildings settling in

We carried on to the junction to get the bottom lock of the main flight ready whilst Tyseley paused at the services to empty cassettes. The lock was gradually emptying itself infront, a centre line was tied to a bollard, but no crew evident anywhere. We weren’t in a rush so I waited and waited, eventually a chap came out from below with a coffee in hand.

Still closed

Despite taking our time we still had quite a wait for Tyseley to arrive, luckily nobody had appeared wanting to come down. Composting toilets are so the way forward.

Painting this was going to take quite some time

Once we were joined crew were sent on ahead to prepare the next lock. Chris soon returned having not been able to get past a group of killer geese on the towpath, so we all walked up to the next lock the long way round.

Rounding the bend

We made good progress up the locks, crew going on ahead, any time lost at the low pound was more than made up for here. Two boats were coming down and one lock was having it’s beams painted, so caution was needed.

Last Lock to the summit

At 3pm we reached the summit pound on time. There was plenty of mooring space by the pub and as we pulled in behind Tyseley it felt like Oleanna was just sitting in the wings backstage. A good days boating with great company, even if Rachel and Liz are envious of how Oleanna handles.

Locking buddies

11 locks, 3.23 miles, 1 left, 1 Margees house, 2 houses for sale, 8 crew for two boats, 1 wet lock, 1 almost empty pound, 2 sets of new horrid gates, 1 summit reached, 2 boats waiting in the wings, 0 shore leave for Tilly, 1 mooring for Tilly 2 though.

But she lives on our boat with Tilly