Electric Webs. 21st July

Broxbourne Bridge to above Hunsdon Mill Lock 12, River Stort

A bright array of towels

A haze rose from the canal this morning. Luckily for us the rain hadn’t continued through the night so we managed to get some sleep. Each night seems to be getting that little bit cooler from the last thankfully.

First lock of the day Carthagena Lock. Heavy flexing gates that didn’t want to come out of their recesses. Mick ended up having to climb a ladder to come and help, one gate simply wasn’t going to shift without two of us. The RSJ has an infill where you normally push them open, but with two of us there wasn’t enough, so I got lean on a section not filled in, quite painful really. At least we got the bloomin thing moving in the end.

Still wearing my boaters PPE a year later

Above Dobbs Weir Lock webs of electricity had been spun above our heads. So many lines in different directions, below Rye House Substation was the reason.

Webs of Power

Not far now to Feilde’s Lock where we topped up the water tank and disposed of our rubbish whilst the lock emptied. Here we had a choice, leftish on the Lea towards Ware and Hertford or right towards Bishop Stortford. Right was the decision.

The River Stort was used to transport malt to London. In 1766 an Act of Parliament was passed which enabled the River Stort to be made navigable to Bishop Stortford. 15 wooden locks were built, parts of the river rerouted and dredged. Three basins were built at Bishop Stortford, the work finally completed in 1769 at the cost of £100,000.

Feildes Weir

In 1811 and 12 attempts were made to extend the navigation to Cambridge and beyond via the River Cam, but the finances of over £0.5 million were never raised so the project was dropped.

Lower Lock

The locks were built for barges of 70 to 86ft long and 13.25 ft wide which carried around 60 tons of cargo. The width of the locks now means that they are not wide enough for two narrowboats to share, but are wide enough to require you to open both gates, top and bottom.

Brick Lock until a few days ago required assistance from C&RT to pass through. Today one of the top paddles is out of action, covered up in a C&RT aware yellow bag. As we set the lock, emptying water out we could see that the top cill either has lots of detritus on it or will fail at some point soon, plenty of water billowing up from under the gate. This made opening the bottom gates hard, exacerbated by a large amount of weed covering the off side sluice opening.

Brick Lock

When Mick brought Oleanna into the lock he did his best to clear the weed, hopefully the next boat through won’t have as much difficulty as we did.

On the sign post for the lock is an explanation of the Navigation Warning System. It is a standard Green amber red system, but it is used the opposite way round to most river level boards. This is positioned under the next bridge and shows you if you have enough air drought to get under the Railway Bridge a short distance on. Back in 2015 we passed under the railway bridge as it was raining, the river rising overnight and Brick lock closing the following Monday for maintenance. When we woke in the morning we decided to return and limbo back under the bridge for fear we might get stuck for weeks if not. Lillian cleared the bridge with not much to spare.

Plenty of room above the buckets

Fortunately for us last night thunderstorms hadn’t brought the river up too much, so we passed under with quite a bit of space above our black buckets.

Up Roydon Lock and on past meadows to Hunsdon Lock where lads were playing in the stream alongside, they came over and offered to lend a hand with the gates.

Hunsdon Lock

This is where we’d been aiming for, hoping the tree coverage would be good and that there would be space for us. Fortunately there was and we remained in the shade for all but an hour all afternoon.

Despite the woofer a good mooring

There were a few boats, all who seemed to know each other, everyone knew Dave and Ted his dog. Dave is an old hand at canal life, very friendly and has been helping others to paint their boat. Ted was kept on a lead or indoors all afternoon, but we were warned that he would be allowed free reign in the evening. This was fine as Tilly would hopefully be home for her dingding at around 6, when the doors would close behind her, so Ted could run as free as he liked.

With food supplies running a touch low, I cobbled together some chicken marinated in not quite Jerk seasoning, due to the lack of chillies. As the drum sticks cooked away in a pan on the stove we had a frequent visitor. Ted could smell the cooking through the open window, the only thing stopping him from coming to sample our dinner was the blind. It was quite funny as whenever I heard Ted being called by the others on the towpath, there he was watching my every move through the blind

Ted enjoying the smell


I’m very pleased to report to Ted that my not quite Jerk Chicken with rice and peas was very tasty, if I can remember what went into it I’ll make it again sometime.

8 locks, 4.88 miles, 1 right, 2 1 narrowboat only, 1 low bridge, 1 interesting table, 1 lodger negative, 1 shady mooring, 1 Christmas card location, 1 Ted, 1 Mrs Tilly Stamp.