Taking A Left. 23rd June

Black Jack’s Lock to Ballot Box Bridges 13, Paddington Arm, Grand Union Canal

Such a lovely mooring above Black Jacks

Over the years we have been gifted a few things by the God of the London Waterways. On Lillian we had a hose pipe brush javelined onto our roof whilst we were on the Lee Navigation. We still have this and it occasionally gets used, although the plastic that holds the bristles in can scratch your paintwork. Then on our last visit we were breasted up to by another narrowboat at Little Venice waterpoint. We didn’t notice until much later in the day that the chap had left us with his rather good lightweight boat hook, this is now the preferred hook to use.

A present from the waterway gods

So our mooring today was offering us a blue trolley with accompanying yellow bungee. All we had to do was bring it out from the friendly cover and pop it on the roof. We actually noticed it when we pulled up yesterday, then we debated about it. A trolley would be handy, moving heavy things around such as gas bottles (the chap yesterday used his mobility scooter to great effect) and our yellow water container to elsan points, coal bags etc. But it would have to live on our roof which we prefer to keep uncluttered as we cruise so much. In the end our roof stayed uncluttered and we left the find either for it’s original owner to reclaim or for someone with a greater need, anyway it hadn’t been placed on our roof like the previous gifts had.

Jack’s Mill Cafe

The lady at Jack’s Mill Café was putting tables out in the sunshine this morning getting ready to open up. The crocodile that used to lie on the grass below the lock seems to have moved off to pastures new, a shame as it was one of those things you look out for.

The local opposition to HS2 is very obvious by the time you reach Wide Water Lock, as is the big crane a little bit away from the lock. Once we’d dropped down and passed a few boats we could see the start of the works. Fencing along the towpath marks the spot where the line will cross on a viaduct. Another area fenced off part way across all the trees felled, waiting for construction work to start. Here there used to be a protest encampment, the trees which surrounded it now gone.

We could see mounds of gravel, diggers and cranes. Further along plenty of green fencing stretched out parallel with the canal, upturned black boxes sat by the fence at regular intervals. What was this all about? It wasn’t on the route for the railway. Was it a compound for the works? But there was a lot of water in between. In the end we think this area is where they will be adjusting the overhead power cables, maybe dispensing with the pylons and dropping the cables to underground.

As we cruised on, Mick was somewhat distracted by the works, Oleanna’s line drifted off centre. The first we were aware of this was a horrible scratching squeaking noise of pointy branches doing their worst down the port side cabin. This is the first time I’ve ever shouted at Mick, I did apologise quite quickly as did Mick. Just what damage had been done now?! Poor Oleanna!

Oh blimey!!

Denham Deep Lock required filling so this gave me plenty of time to take in the damage. At least two more big scratches along the cabin side. These are more wiggly than the one created yesterday. We’ll try polishing them out, we have some blue polish. If anyone has any handy advice please pass it on, we are not shiny boaters but we also don’t want to look like a well used hire boat!

Denham Deep is suitable named, not the deepest lock we’ve been through, but still deep. We dropped down, only one paddle usable on the bottom gates and a queue was forming for Fran’s Tea Rooms at the lock cottage.

Open at 10am

Approaching Uxbridge Lock we had a tight squeeze past a breasted up pair and a work boat carrying a big reel of cable or pipe. Luckily there was space for us all and the neat gardens on the offside didn’t give us any cause for concern over more marks on Oleanna’s cabin side.

Mick brought Oleanna into Uxbridge Lock, closely followed by the local swan family. We did our best to move them out, or in, we didn’t mind which just one or the other would do. But the cob had other ideas sitting in the open gateway, going one way then coming back, he was refusing to let Mick close the gate. In the end a crust of my new loaf of gluten free bread had to be brought out, food was what he was after along with the rest of his family. We could now close the gate.

Is the lock cottage still for sale or just on the market again?

We swung Oleanna in to the service point at the marina below, the diesel renowned for being the cheapest in the area. No price showed on the pump. A head popped up from behind a boat on the offside to give us the news that the marina was closed on Wednesdays! Pooh!! Oh well. I hopped back on and we reversed out, we’ll hopefully find a coal boat, we still have half a tank.

It’s actually the lock cottage for sale looking the other way https://www.alldayestateagents.co.uk/properties/13842790/sales price on application!

The next lock Cowley Lock was to be our last, the last lock down into London. We topped up with water and disposed of yellow water at the services then swapped with two northbound boats to drop down onto the Paddington Level of the canal.

All on the flat from here. Lots of building work about. A widebeam had difficulty coming through the bridge by Packet Boat Marina, it seemed he’d got his bow thrusters the wrong way round, but the amount of tyres on his bow suggested this happens frequently.

Straight on past the Slough Arm, we may do this on our way back, we had to abandon our cruise down there back in 2015 due to ice and sadly it was the day before we had to say goodbye to our first second mate Houdini.

At Bulls Bridge there were plenty of boats moored up on the offside, only one boat on the visitor moorings. We have enough stocks on board so we left the rest of the stretch to the magnet fishers. Oleanna was swung round to the left and passed under the bridge onto the Paddington Arm.

Straight on to Paddington

We decided to have lunch on the go, our chosen mooring still a distance off, but if we saw anywhere before hand we’d pull in. Plenty of boats moored up, not many moving. Some familiar, like the one that looks top heavy and wouldn’t fit through bridge holes now sat on a mooring. Boats that invite themselves to be painted by graffiti artists, life rafts of different shapes and sizes.

At Willow Tree Footbridge it looked like most people had moved in and onto land. The possessions next to one cruiser made you wonder how they would move if they had to take everything with them! I think they’d sink.

Black Horse Bridge

At Black Horse Bridge bend building works are still on going, high rise buildings going up. A wharf with mooring bollards and what might be an elsan looked all very smart. On we went, not much further till we reached Ballot Box Bridges.

A whole stretch to ourselves!

As we rounded the bend we were surprised to see not one boat moored where we’d managed to slot in last time. The towpath has been redone, the hard surface getting quite close to the edge, but we thought we’d be able to get some spikes in, which we did. Was there something we didn’t know?

You be good in that nature reserve!

5 locks, 15.4 miles, 1 aborted left, 0 diesel, 1 left, 0 shopping, 1 crust, 2 strawberries, 2 lunches on the go, 0 swans, 1 warmer day, 0 boats at the mooring, 1 super speedy boat, 1 nature reserve, 2 loads washing, 1 fox, 1 cat not so keen.


In other not so good news a C&RT update regarding Selby Swing Bridge

Update on 23/06/2021:

Since Selby swingbridge was damaged by overweight vehicles our team have been reviewing options for carrying out repairs to rectify the damage. We regret to inform that the design detail of the temporary pedestrian footbridge is still being finalised. This alternative means of access over the canal must be in place before it is possible to put a road closure in place to lift-off the defective bridge and re-open navigation.

We now expect the defective bridge to be removed and navigation re-open in mid-July. In recognition of the additional disruption this causes we are investigating whether it is possible to perform and emergency swing of the bridge for a limited period to allow boat passage should those moored in the area wish to move. We will make a further announcement on this as our plans develop, and not before Monday 28th June 2021.

2 thoughts on “Taking A Left. 23rd June

  1. joamungoanddog

    I use a waterproof phone case when I go on holiday. Clear and you’re still able to use it as a touch screen if necessary. If you type in waterproof phone case to Amazon you’ll see the photos. Didn’t want to link in case it affects your blog.

    1. Pip Post author

      Now there’s an idea. Mick got one ages ago for Christmas that he’s never used. Only thing is do we still have it on the boat?

Comments are closed.