Thunderous Trains. 20th July

Ordnance Road Bridge 38 to Broxbourne Bridge

Another early start today, hoping to reach a shady mooring again before the sun got too hot, I hoped I remembered a mooring correctly and that it would be free.

Rammey Marsh Lock

We were soon at Rammey Marsh Lock where we ascended and swapped with a boat heading downstream.

Next we bobbed under the M25, a far less spectacular view than the one you get from the Grand Union.

Not quite a Banksy but nice

Shortly before Waltham Town Lock and the road bridge below it, there is a new service block with bins, a water point and toilets alongside some moorings. We both remember a cafe with bins behind it, possibly a pump out machine that ate our C&RT cards with out it doing any sucking! Looking back at Lillian’s blog for News Years Day 2015 has confirmed that the new buildings here have replaced the the café and services. A banner boasts about a show boat that must be moored on the little arm just out of view. If you have £225,000, this would buy you a 60ft widebeam on a serviced mooring here. I wonder what the other charges are?

Now the locks are all manual. The bottom gates having cranked beams made from RSJs. These tend to flex more than move so take quite a lot of effort to get going. People offered to lend a hand, but only with the top gates, they must have known!

The locks are now fairly evenly spaced along the straight stretches of the navigation. Each pound was almost full of moored boats, all different shapes and sizes, many hogging the shade.

Cheshunt had been our destination for the day, but then our schedule has changed in recent days so we wanted to head on a touch further. Anyhow there was very little space available.

As we worked our way along we tried to remember where the Water God of The South bequeathed a big washing brush to us. It was somewhere along this stretch. The electric lines looked familiar but the towpath wasn’t quite right, it needed speed bumps to discourage speeding cyclists!

Closing the gates

Up ahead at Aqueduct Lock we could see that the lock was empty, bottom gates open waiting for us. Then a group of people with windlasses in hand arrived. We were still some distance away so I wouldn’t have blamed them for turning it. The gates closed, then there was movement around the lock, but nothing much seemed to be happening. They then reappeared at the bottom gates and proceeded to try to open them again, the leaking top gates had obviously just let through enough water to make this impossible. They all returned to their boat which backed away from the top gates.

Up we go

A widebeam was moored just off the end of the lock landing, a lady was most apologetic as they had broken down and hope they weren’t in the way. Three signs announced this which were all pretty new, so maybe not a constant problem for them. Up at the lock the boat above was now winding. Ah ha! A day boat from Lee Valley Boat Centre in Broxbourne, a sign above the lock suggests that small vessels should not pass down the lock, maybe someone had seen this hence their retreat.

This is it!

Once up we knew that this stretch was where we’d received the brush. We’re not certain of how we came to be its new owners, but my theory is that a cyclist had stolen it from another boat and whilst speeding down the towpath they had launched it at Lillian’s roof practicing their javelin throwing. We still have the brush and it occasionally gets used on the gunnels.

Small craft

After Kings Weir the river takes over again bringing back meanders which helped to hide the other small vessels on the river today. I’ve not seen a pedalo for years! One motorised boat had obviously been told to keep to the right, they did this religiously even if it meant going through the over hanging willow trees.

Round to the right

Just after the right hand bend by The Crown pub the mooring I’d remembered showed itself to be very much in shade and free. Brilliant. We pulled in just after a fisherman and tied to the end bollards. A green green wood right alongside us, Tilly heaven.

Just look at all that!

I was given seven hours! I made the most of it, but was getting a touch parched and exhausted after six, so returned for a snooze in my escape pod.

Busy Busy

In the woods we found space where we could put a stool without being in a cyclist or scooters way. Mick had his first haircut in an age, it’s always nice to see my boyfriend reappearing from behind all that hair!

On watch

With the railway being quite close the trains rumble over bridges crossing the river. But as the afternoon progressed the rumbles were hard to differ from thunder. The two merged into one as dark clouds came past. At 2pm we expected torrential rain if the rumbles were to be believed, but it took until 4:30pm for the heavens to open at last.

Shade is good, until it rains!

We’d considered going to the pub for food, but were glad we couldn’t book a table as I think our food would have got a touch soggy in the garden. I do remember Tom and Jan eating in a pub along here somewhere and not being that impressed, so maybe the weather saved us from wasting our money.

5 locks, 5.15 miles, 1 more hot day, 1 more early start, 2 more leapfrogs with Small World, 0 brushes today, 1 day boat retreating, 5 pedalos, grade 3, 1 boyfriend again, 2 torrential down pours, 2 goats cheese ham and caramelised onion pizzas, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval, 2 reusable blocks!