If They Go Straight On, We’ll Go Left. 25th August

The hedge to another bit of hedge near Flecknoe Road Bridge 102

A mooring with a view

Most people had moved off before us this morning, one boat just beating us to pushing off heading in the same direction, no worries we were guaranteed to be in a queue today. If we weren’t on a schedule I suspect we’d have just moved up to claim one of the spots with a view for the day, oh well.

HS2 has had a huge mound of earth on the south bank of the canal for years now. Today we could see where the route of the line will be as fresh soil has been laid out just after bridge 128, on the north bank there is a wooden fence which we suspect marks the route across the gentle valley.

Three years ago I did quite a lot of research into the route and what was going to happen in the area, The workers encampment has moved to the south side of the canal and the route now only crosses the cut once, it’s route having been nudged over a touch.

In a couple of places saplings have been planted and a swath of wild flowers sit below one of the mounds of earth.

Surely not HS 2 earth works

In one field away from the canal we could see what looked like wheelbarrows. Surely they are not going to build HS2 with a fleet of wheelbarrows! The top layer of soil has been removed and zooming in I wondered if this is an archaeological dig, there are several buried villages along the canal.

We wrapped our way around the hills, the obligatory photos taken. A couple of chaps were enjoying glamping, an added horse box being used as a kitchen. The narrowboat still sits in the field cut off from the cut, not listing as badly as it was a few years ago.


The last bend of the summit pound and then we pulled up at the top of Marston Doles. A chap filling with water made sure we knew that his boat would be in front of us once a boat had come up the top lock. We helped boats up and down the lady from the waiting shareboat reminded me of Derek from Alan Ayckbourns Roleplay, Derek has a long monologue regarding his and Dee’s (his wife) drive from Doncaster to their daughters flat in docklands, with minute details of diversions, hold ups and turns. Instead of riga mortice setting in I just had a grin remembering Bob Austin’s wonderful performance.

Turning into the top lock

We took our turn down the two Marston Doles locks, then pootled along the pound to the top of the Napton flight. Some boats were coming up, but not enough to meet at every lock, the trend seemed to be more downhill. Some people we were meeting were heading back to base after being out for a week or three taking their time before returning to their houses.


Behind we had a Carefree Cruising shareboat, ahead Derek and her husband, although they soon pulled in to check the weedhatch and most probably have lunch. The following boat caught us up at one point but then the boat ahead of us lifted a couple of paddles for us helping to fill the locks ahead speeding up our descent.

The views from the flight are always great and the buffalos were in view today. The new coping stones on lock 9 still have a way to go before they blend in, but are far better than the concrete ones at lock 10.

We paused between locks 8 and 9 to have a late lunch. Two volunteers walked up the flight, one chap stopped to say hello, a reader of the blog. Thank you, sorry we didn’t get your name.

Going down

One last lock, we waited for a boat coming up. They were returning to base, the chap wanting to get home, the two ladies not so keen, wanting to take their time. If they reached the top of Marston Doles before they closed for the day he would insist on getting over the summit so as to descend the Claydon flight in the morning. How could they manage to take 2.5 hours to climb Napton? I suggested they may come across some numpties on the flight who would slow them down.

Numpties at the next lock

A boat came out of the lock ahead of them, the crew closed the gates, then a lady from the following boat started to fill the lock all whilst the chap who was wanting to get home shouted at them for stealing his lock. Another paddle was lifted before the mistake was realised. If this happened at every lock the ladies wishes might come true!

Napton Windmill

Below the locks we aimed to pass Napton Junction before finding a mooring, just about where we should get to today. A boat at the end of the visitor moorings pulled out and carried on at tickover. The journey around Napton Hill is always longer than you think it is going to be, but today it would take us even longer!

Going slowly

‘If they go straight on, we’ll go left at the junction’ a thought we both have whilst driving over the Wolds to Scarborough. ‘And we’ll still get to Braunston before them!’ Blimey they were Soooo slow, we even considered stopping at the bridge where every car hoots their horn!

One boat at home

Napton hire base had only one boat in, plenty must have headed towards Warwick or Braunston this last week. Slowly we followed, going into neutral every now and again.

Quick straight on before they change their minds

At the junction we waited to see what they’d do. Thank goodness they turned right, into Wigrams Marina! We were free once again.

We waved towards Herbie’s new home at Ventnor and tried to catch a glimpse of the campsite and holiday cottage that Dave (Scouts) has suggested as a possible location next summer for a party. Think we’ll have to come back and have a proper look if allowed.

Harvest in full flow

Once the proximity of roads eased we started looking for somewhere to moor. The second stretch had nobody moored on it possibly because the towpath is narrow, but we’d been having complaints from inside for a while so we pulled in and let Tilly out. An hour and a half somehow got extended to nearly 8pm! It was only the threat of no Dreamies for the next week that worked in the end. Tilly does not know how to tell the time!!!

This evening we have watched Act 2 of Home, I’m Darling. An enjoyable play, I suspect better if sat in the theatre watching it, although I wouldn’t have wanted to be the lady sat behind the high backed armchair!

9 locks, 10.92 miles, 4 share boats, 1 Ayckbourn character, 2 paddles lifted, 2 reluctant lock wheelers, 2 too keen lock wheelers, 1 slow boat to Wigrams, 1 straight on, 8 glasses of water, 2 many wee breaks, 2.5 hours! 1 cat avoiding capture, 2 minutes to 0 Dreamies for a week, 1 cat who can tell the time when it counts, obviously!