Weeeeed! 19th July

Marshgate Bridge to Ordnance Road Bridge 38, Enfield

A much quieter night thank goodness, but the heat absorbed by the boat yesterday kept us nice and overly hot as we tried to sleep last night, so today we hoped we’d find a shady spot for the afternoon.

Alarm was set to try to get cruising by 8am which we just about managed. Another boat had pushed off much earlier leaving a gap two boats up, we were leaving another.

Mid stream weed clearing

Three and a bit miles to our first lock at Tottenham, this should have taken us about an hour. But the amount of weed in the navigation gradually slowed us down so much that we had to cut the engine mid stream. First Mick tried to clear the trailing weed with the boat hook, then the weed hatch was investigated. Masses of weed and a few plastic bags were pulled out, thankfully there isn’t that much of a flow on this pound so we stayed almost stationary in the middle.

A chap shouted across from his boat that he’d had to do the same three times yesterday. When the engine started up again it was obvious that we still had stuff on the prop, our progress upstream was slightly better, but only slightly.

As it says

A gap showed itself under a willow tree, we pulled in and tied up to clear the prop properly. Despite the shade this wouldn’t be a place to stay for the rest of the day as we were by a outflow of some sort which constantly trickled and had an certain aroma to it! Mick requested a bag to stuff the weed into for disposal later, he managed to fill it. At least we’d been cutting a way through for following boats.

Well NB Small World soon came into view, they too stopped mid channel to clear the prop. Another boat headed downstream, a few blasts of reverse weren’t going to help, but they kept trying!

Now with a clear prop we set off again, hoping to last until we’d reached Tottenham Lock which we did thankfully. We had a widebeam pull out in front of us, but he was just nudging up from underneath a bridge to the next available spot. A weed cutter was just heading out from it’s mooring, hopefully our route back will be clearer, although I suspect the weed grows pretty quickly.

Fire Engines

It took us 2.5 hours to reach Tottenham, we’d hoped to be stopping late morning, but we knew we still had some distance to go before we’d find any available shade. As Mick dropped me off to set the lock four fire engines and a ladder tender turned up sirens blaring, they turned down the road just alongside the lock. There was no sign of what the emergency was and by the time I’d walked up to the lock control panel the engines were turning round and one by one heading away, a false alarm perhaps.


Time for the key of power. A quick refresher on how these locks work and I pressed the button to open the bottom sluices. On the Yorkshire locks there is a panel situated at each end of the locks, this is because most of them are so big. Here two narrowboats have plenty of space but only one panel is required.

Up came Oleanna, fresh white paint leaving it’s mark on our ropes.

With not far to Stonebridge Lock I walked onwards to operate the panel, NB Small World only just having exited. We’d been wanting to stop for water, but there was hardly any space for us to pull in so onwards.

We passed boats we’d seen when we came along here back in January 2015. Two cruisers made into a catamaran. Plenty of boats protesting that boaters rights are being eroded and abut a section of the navigation which has now become a safety zone for rowers, cutting down on mooring space.

New film and TV studios

Three grey arched buildings stood out as being quite new and interesting. Google maps has them as the Troubadour Meridian Water Studios. This turns out to be a new film studio complex. At the moment there are three huge studios another three are planned in a couple of years time. More info here.

Nice and cool

If it wasn’t for all the traffic going over head we might have moored under the North Circular, it was lovely and cool down there. There were signs that people live there, a couple of comfy beds alongside the canal along with other home comforts.

Alfie’s Lock

At Alfie’s Lock we waited for a widebeam to exit the lock and then joined a chap who had novice crew with him today. Alfie’s lock was busy, plenty of people sitting outside the lock cottage along with a few gongoozlers pausing on their bike ride or walk.

Do not let the geese in the lock or the swans

Alfie’s lock used to be called Pickett’s Lock, but was renamed in 2015 after the long serving lock keeper Alfie Saggs to mark his 86th birthday. When we passed through the lock that January there was a box requesting a fare of a Bounty bar for safe passage through the lock, these were meant to be Alfie’s’ favourite. We made sure when we returned that we left one for him. Today it looks like the cottage has new occupants, the bounty bar box is gone but Alfie’s name is on the gate and there is still a warning regarding the geese who reside above the lock.

Our lock partner asked for the paddles to be raised with caution, no baffles on the gate paddles can give a rather bumpy ride. So one turn at a time until we’d both ascended. There is a water point here, but you have to sit in the lock to use it, so not the best position, we decided we’d wait a while to top up the tank. I did however pause to check out the new bin store on the towpath here, although I omitted to check whether there were recycling bins along with standard ones. These are not marked on our Waterway Routes map, but are likely to be in the next update once we’ve passed on the grid reference to Paul. Apparently some of the facilities have been upgraded on the Lee, so we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled.

Mick couldn’t find a C&RT notice about this

Just before the next lock Ponders End there was a tap, time to top up. After a while our partners arrived and headed into the powered lock. They seemed to be there forever with nothing much happening. Maybe the training of the crew was taking time. A sign gaffered onto the bridge however explained, the powered lock was out of action, so the twinned manual one should be used.

We shared the lock again and our companions stopped for a beer or two at the Navigation leaving us on our own again. We passed NB Brocky with it’s wooden cabin, pointy bow and steam funnel.

To our east large reservoirs hide behind big banks, tall pylons follow the line of navigation. To the west large warehouses back onto the canal, noisy both day and night according to Clare and Pete on NB Billy!

Gate panel at Enfield Lock

It’s amazing what you remember from six and a half years ago. The hefty weight of lock gates, those that seem to flex more than move, pylons. The locks that have powered gates but maybe still need a windlass. Glad I thought of that as at Enfield the gates are powered the buttons being covered by a metal panel. Then all the paddles are windlass operated.

Enfield Lock

As we passed the lovely terraced houses on Government Row we hoped for a mooring with shade. We spotted one, but would it have enough depth? The water being so clear I didn’t think we’d be in luck, but fortunately we managed to get into the side, well almost!

Government Row

The doors were opened up and Tilly set free to explore whilst we had a late lunch. What we’d hoped would take us 4 hours had taken us 6.5 hours due to so much weed. This mooring turns out to more or less being where we were to see in the New Year 2014/2015.

Thank heavens for shade

We watched the press conference from Checkers and Downing Street, Freedom Day not quite fitting it’s own bill. As covid cases rise around the country our cruising plans are changing. The current play at the SJT is cancelled for ten days due to a cast member testing positive and other members of the company are now having to self isolate, I hope our lodger is okay. We will keep wearing our masks in shops and on transport, we’ll also be doing our best to avoid crowds.


5 locks, 9.47 miles, 1 key, 1 windlass, 1 boat trimming the weed, 3 very slow boats, 1 full water tank, 2 boaters keeping their eyes open, 1 very hot day, 1 shady mooring, 10 days no shows, 6.5 years, 10 weeks to new measures.


Our friends Jennie and Chris from NB Tentatrice have decided to hang up their windlasses and sell their lovely, much loved boat. If you are thinking of a life afloat or just your summers, you really should take at look at her. We’ll miss the opportunity to meet up with Jennie, Chris and Monty on the canals, but hope to be able to see them when we are in their part of the country. Tentatrice for sale.

2 thoughts on “Weeeeed! 19th July

  1. jennie230

    Thank you Pip for adding the sales details of Tentatrice to your blog. Glad you found some shade. I don’t envy you all that weed! Like you we are still wearing masks and avoiding crowds. I am pleased to say that when we have ventured into shops most people are still wearing face coverings. Jennie x

    1. Pip Post author

      No problem Jennie. We’ve a click and collect booked today to avoid having to go into a supermarket. Only problem is we’ve got a charity boat wedged across the cut in front of us doind a very good impression of the Evergiven!

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