Eleven In A Lock. 19th June

Little Tring Bridge to Berkhamsted Top Lock 53

With the possibility of more rain today we popped on our waterproofs, trousers at hand should the need arise. The going was slow back along the arm and just when we’d given up hope of company from our fishing friend it reappeared.


Another 50 odd photos trying to get one really good one, but terns swoop and dip and dive so quickly it was really hard to keep up with it. One failed dive brought a loud skwark! Bit a few moments later the dip into the water was far more fruitful as it came back out with it’s mouth full of silver fish. This morning we’d seen a much bigger fish swimming past the moored boats, getting on for 18inches long, too much of a mouthful for a tern.

This is the towpath side

Newish signs warn of a submerged ledge. The one on the way out doesn’t give any indication of where the shelf might be, at least the one on the way back does mention the offside!

I walked up to the bow to act as look out at Bulbourne Junction, nobody coming so we could swing out and return to our route southwards a couple of groups of trainee canoeists slowing our progress.

The development at Bulbourne Wharf has come on in the last couple of years. A new house stands elevated at the end of the plot followed by the old warehouse and workshop buildings all now with new upvc windows that mimic the original metal frames. A block of new builds stands at the back of the plot, still some way to go before they are inhabitable.

The road and towpath are closed by Bulbourne Bridge 133, a new footbridge is being built alongside the road bridge. The bank is being reinforced and so is the edge of the road, a diversion whilst the work is ongoing is through the pub garden.


As we made our way along the tree filled cutting to Cowroast we joined the weekly Geraghty Zoom. Birthday cakes, armless tennis players and flamingos were todays topics, hope Penelope’s 2nd Birthday party went well.

Life raft

At Cowroast we took advantage of the towpath being on the portside and emptied the yellow water for disposal at the elsan. Another boat had just finished filling with water so we could share the lock. The chap was a single hander who’s knees had known better days so he preferred to pull his boat out of the locks rather than climb back down.


We shared Cowroast and the two Dudswell Locks with him, he was gradually making his way to Berko in time to see the two Mikron shows in a few weeks time at the Rising Sun. So he would pull up somewhere in the pound to Northchurch Lock. He must have found space as we took our time setting the lock and he didn’t show.

All locks so far down from the summit are to be left empty, whether this is to stop water leaking through the walls into nearby properties, or the top gates seal better than the bottom ones who knows, but it does mean that the locks are set against you, all requiring to be filled.

Look how clear that water is

A pump pumped out clean clean water just above the lock, here the greenery on the canal bottom could be seen clearly. As we set the lock Mum and Dad brought their teenage offspring over to say hello, eight cygnets all now with necks long enough to feed from well below the waters surface.

They then stopped pulling at the weed and sat waiting patiently for the gates to open. Oh blimey, they were here for a free ride down the lock! Mick tried throwing fake bread which distracted them towards the stern of Oleanna. I opened the gate, hoping we’d managed to get them far enough away, but no such luck they easily beat Oleanna into the lock. Thankfully the locks are long enough to accommodate ten swans and a narrowboat!

The gate was closed behind everyone and I slowly opened the bottom gate paddles, taking our time keeping everyone safe. Our passengers became impatient as the last foot of water dropped. As soon as the gate opened they were straight out, a quick head count, ten, all were accounted for before I let the gate go into the recess. Swan noises came from below, were they ‘Thank you‘ s or ‘About Bloomin time!’ ?

Guard Dragon

The house with the garden gate made of branches has a friendly dragon keeping an eye on the towpath and a bunny sits high up for safety.

With all the locks being left empty it means paddles are left up at the bottom end which need closing before you can start to fill a lock. At the two Gas Locks they were both empty, I could see people at the second one so I pushed the bottom gate open at our lock and let Mick know a boat was coming up. I then walked down to see if I could lend a hand.

Bow hauling into the lock

A cruiser was being pulled into the lock, the chamber was then filled as the lightweight boat bobbed about. The chap then started to pull the boat out from the lock. ‘You’ve got a quiet engine there’, a comment we quite often receive, but this chaps engine was so quiet, it was absent and currently in Rickmansworth being mended. So he was bow hauling his boat up the two locks to the next mooring, to get away from the park and most probably make his 14 day move. He said he’d be back for his other boat a 70fter he’d just bought, also without an engine!

In the top lock, cruiser being pulled along the side of a widebeam

At the second lock there was extra crew, a young lad eager to help open gates. We all let him push the gate on his own, the other being opened by two, blimey he was strong and beat the others to have his gate fully open.

Our turn now, Mick moved Oleanna out of the way for the chap to pull the cruiser out of the lock. As we started our descent the chap could be seen walking along peoples gunnels pulling his boat to get to the next available space.

A narrowed bridge hole

Footbridge 140A is covered in scaffolding. The towpath has been built out over the canal using temporary pontoon sections. The astro turf on the surface squelched as I walked on it after yesterdays rain. There was plenty of space on the 4hr shopping mooring, so we made use of it for lunch and a top up shop from Waitrose. We managed to time our visit well to coincide with the next round of reductions of the ‘Sad Git’ items. When we were in Newark one winter we got to know the best time to shop at Waitrose and ended up having bargain shops along with free newspapers quite frequently.

This must be the chaps

There was a space towards the next lock, so we pushed off and claimed our space. This end of the moorings has less footfall and is sheltered somewhat from the trains whizzing through Berko station.

new 70fter!

Tilly headed out to explore the narrow strip of friendly cover, although the local birdies weren’t too impressed with her presence! She spent most of her time sitting on the stern watching the world go by. That was until we heard a lot of SHOUTING from a lady who obviously had a dog. The dog had spotted Tilly and thought she looked tasty! Tilly started to puff herself up to be threatening back. But that SHOUTING She kept SHOUTING and SCREAMING at her woofer, so noisy! I decided to protect my precious hearing and retire inside at speed. One needs to keep one’s hearing in good order for hearing friends in the friendly cover.

Propy bits for the model

7 locks, 7.01 miles, 1 tern turning, 1 empty wee tank, 1 Mikron fan, 11 in a lock, 2 engineless boats, 1 handy pole, 4hr shopping spot, 2 wrens, 1 big ginger disobedient woofer, 1 very loud She, 2 hours model making the last bits, I hope.


2 thoughts on “Eleven In A Lock. 19th June

  1. christinegeraghty

    I know you meet some eccentrics on your travels but a man pulling along a boat without an engine takes the biscuit! Loved the swans sharing the lock.

    1. Pip Post author

      The man did it twice, closely followed by a mate of his with two cruisers tied together. I suppose its cheap that way, but bloomin hard work!

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