Up Then Down 15th September

Lock 37 to Berkhamsted

Another 8am start, no tea in bed since Northampton!

Lock 37 was empty but thankfully Lock 38 was full, the pound between them short and in the past has been quite low. When we came up sharing with NB Tyseley a few years ago it was touch and go if there would be enough water to get her into the second lock. Today our only problem was the amount the bottom gates at Lock 37 were leaking. Mick had started to close the paddles to open the gate, but the amount of water flowing out between the gates was so great the top gate needed opening whilst all the paddles were still up.

Jan’s favourite canal side property

Signs on lock gates yesterday had warned us that the Marsworth flight was locked overnight, Cowroast end of the summit pound was also locked and that moorings in Marsworth might be a touch busy. There were certainly quite a few boats, but we’d have found a space.

As we turned the bend towards the bottom of the flight a C&RT Lock Keeper was stood at the top of the Aylesbury Arm. We waved, maybe the next time we come this way we should take Oleanna down there as she’s not been as yet.

It’s a good view from the high path

The start of Marsworth, 7 locks up to the summit. The first lock is a little away from the others. A Grandad stood with twin girls watching as Oleanna rose up. I took the high path to the next lock, saying hello to Les as I walked. The water levels in the reservoirs low but not alarmingly.

Filling with help

As I set the next lock I could see two volunteers walking towards us. The lady asked if we’d like some assistance, today that would be very welcome. After a while they walked ahead and set the locks for us, another four blue sweatshirts arriving, but walking down the flight.

I love the dates in the structures

We stuck to our routine, ground paddle same side, gate opposite, ground that side followed by the gate paddle on the same side as the boat, slowly.

The lock cottage half way up the flight

A couple of locks from the top a Wyvern boat sat in the pound and waited for us to ascend the lock in our favour. As we ascended the penultimate lock I could see that above there was another boat coming down. A chap could be seen winding paddles. Then he could be seen winding them again. The sound of a paddle being dropped in between times recurring.

As I walked up to join the lock keepers, one whispered in my ear that this was a new boater and he’d requested to do the lock without any assistance. I couldn’t help myself, I suggested putting the catch on the paddle gear was a good thing, the ‘clicking noise is a good noise’, it also saves the paddle gear from being dropped constantly!

No time for the Wendover Arm this time

We all watched as he ran around the lock, opening both gates, dropping paddles, climbing back onto his boat to head down passing Mick where one gate was left open for him. His trip down the flight was going to be a lengthy one without any assistance.

The new houses at the old yard due to be finished September 2022!

Thanking the Lockies we waved them goodbye as they sat on the lock beam waiting for someone else to help. They’d be keeping an eye on their TV on the 24th in case the flotilla made it onto the news.

Freshly baked

A cuppa was very much needed. I remembered that there was still a bit of cookie dough in the freezer, a cookie would be just the right thing whilst crossing the summit. The oven was turned on, frozen dough cut up and popped in the oven and baked for 12 minutes. The hardest bit was leaving them long enough to cool.

Lying down on the job

Once we’d come through the dark cutting and back out into the light we spotted a coal boat, NB Stratford, a new one to us. They seemed to be untying. I spotted their price for diesel £1.30, 10p cheaper than in Uxbridge at the moment. We stopped and breasted up for a fill of the tank, two bags of Excel put on the roof. Mick would have liked to buy more coal, but I was reluctant to fill the roof with bags before the flotilla. What coal we have we’ll wrap in one of our heat wave white sheets so it doesn’t stand out like a soar thumb.

Swans wanting a lift up

NB Stratford trades between Bulbourne and Harefield, we’d not come across them before as they’ve only been trading for about 18 months. They’d seen us coming and were hoping to share the locks with us down the other side. We filled up and both boats headed towards Cowroast. A top up of water and empty of yellow water were done whilst waiting then both boats descended in the lock. A bottle of gas was precariously lifted out from the hold as the boats started to sink, this was for a boat that had arrived on the lock landing below.

We led the way down through the next couple of locks, Emma with windlass in hand very chatty, the chap giving orders, he seemed to like things done his way! We met another boat requiring a bottle of gas at Dunswell Bottom Lock then we were on our way again. NB Stratford pulled over just before Northchurch Lock, tomorrow they were expecting a delivery of coal, so this was as far as they’d be going today.

Feathery friends

Just departing the lock was a single hander, we caught him up at Bushes Lock and shared the remaining three locks into Berko. He was carrying on to just outside town today, we’d had enough and pulled into the first space we found.

New partners

Spikes hammered in, then a quick cat health and safety check revealed a footbridge leading to a road with cars. We decided to move up to past the shopping mooring where the stream would keep Tilly out of Waitrose car park. Only problem was we didn’t seem to have the mallet anymore! Mick walked back to where we’d first pulled in, luckily no one had found it and taken claim.

Going down ready or not!

I wanted to visit the excellent art and craft shop for some card, but checking it’s whereabouts on line discovered that they had closed in July. Brexit then the pandemic had done for them sadly. My purchase will have to wait for London now.

Next to last lock of the day

This evening I finished re-reading the newest version of the panto script. Two things jumped out at me, all the savoury puddings Jo and I have been discussing over the last week have been cut. The other is that a panto sized Christmas Pudding had been added. I sent the director a quick email to double check before stopping Jo in her tracks making up Boiled Egg Ice Cream and Sardine Jelly. The director confirmed the savouries had been cut, but had no idea about the Christmas Pudding, turns out I had a newer version of the script than she did!

Cosy by the stove
Click image for more info

Today we had notification of the changes to the Reflections Flotilla. The organisers have asked us all to dress and behave in a way appropriate for a memorial event, the boats will move down the river in silence. Tower Bridge will open in salute and it is hoped that the event will be seen as a fitting conclusion to the events of the next few days.

16 locks, 7.4 miles, 6 locks shared, 6 Lockies, 1 pair of twins, 70 litres, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 50kgs of coal, 1 stove lit, 1 happy Tilly.