Post Office Beans. 10th August

Welton Hythe Marina to Cracks Hill

Tilly was keen to go out this morning, she likes it here. But as we are the custodians of the doors they stayed firmly shut, we had places to go.

A shady room at the Thai restaurant

Nebo switch flicked on, we were soon on our way, the M1 getting closer all the time. The old Thai Restaurant no longer has a terrace below a weeping willow, there is now an extension containing tables and chairs and TV monitors. This only slightly looks better from the canal than when the place was empty and run down, I hope it looks more inviting from land.

We’d already been passed by a couple of boats this morning, so we knew we’d not be straight up the Watford flight. But only one boat was pulled up in front of us, they were the third boat going up. I walked up to find the Lock Keeper with the book, thankfully he was the first one I came across at the bottom of the staircase locks.

Coming up the second lock to wait

For those who don’t know, Watford has narrow locks and the flight is made up of a couple of single locks, then a staircase of four followed by a single at the top. A staircase is where one lock chamber shares the gates of the next chamber, then the next, then the next depending on how many chambers there are. So boats cannot pass in the staircase and there has to be one chamber left empty between boats, so that you don’t steal the water from the boat ahead of you. Both here and at Foxton (where there are two sets of staircase locks) you have to check in with the Lock Keeper, be patient and wait your turn.

Pushing off from our holding mooring

Today it seemed that they were operating three boats up then three boats down. We were the fourth boat to arrive at the bottom, we’d missed the cut. Our instructions were to come up the two single locks and then wait for the boats to come down before starting up the staircase. More boats arrived behind us, they were told to come up the first lock and then have a cuppa whilst they waited.

We all moved into position, helping each other out. The boat behind us was from Ripon, the boat behind turned out to be from Blue Water Marina in Thorne. We all exchanged stories of sink holes, breaches and being stuck.

Filling the next lock and chatting

As the lead boat came down the staircase we all went to help, Mick and a lady from behind filled the lock below the staircase so that it would be ready for each of the three boats. I helped with gates as the following two boats were single handers, each with a lock keeper winding the paddles. This all helped to speed things up and made for a sociable hour.

Red before …

Time for us to rise in the staircase. ‘Red before white and you’ll be alright!’ the mantra many mutter to themselves as they ascend or descend. There are side pounds here to help conserve water. As you lift the red paddle water from the side pound enters the lower chamber. Then you lift the white paddle this empties water from the higher chamber into the side pound. When all three are at the same level you can open the gates between chambers and move your boat. Then repeat until you reach the top of the staircase where there are normal paddles to fill it.

The top single lock was sat empty waiting for us at the top so were the crew from the first boat waiting to come down, not such a sociable lot.

Now choices, where to moor for the day? We know the summit pound really quite well. Should it be the Sheep Mooring? The towpath not wide enough for a bbq and we needed some suitable supplies to cook. We continued onwards, tunnel mode engaged, me with a coat, Mick without.


The tunnel was wonderfully cool, the south portal very misty. One boat was passed and then at the far end we got a soaking from the tunnel roof. You always get a soaking in Crick tunnel.

So lifeless now

Around what used to be The Moorings (a restaurant) the area and buildings look like they are being prepared for redevelopment, an area behind the bins has been cleared. Wonder what will be there?

As we carried on past the marina we kept our eyes peeled for familiar boats. Was that our old neighbour? Was that someone we knew walking away with their back to us? Was that the bow of a boat we hope to meet up with? The towpath moorings here were busy as always, we carried on hoping for a space away from the marina.

House boat and crane

Hang on what’s that? A big cane was extended, what looked like a house boat below it. Are Aquavista installing house boats at Crick? Or is it something left over from the boat show?

On we pootled, fingers crossed. As bridge 14 came into view I zoomed in with the camera, the reeds making it hard to see if there would be space for us. Then as we rounded the last bit of the bend we could see that there was plenty of space available. Quickly we pulled in and tied up. A quick pace out in front of us to see how much room there still was before a boat would be in the way of the winding hole. Enough for another Oleanna.

Our preferred Crick mooring

As the weather was so good provisions for a barbeque were required, our shopping trip in Rugby had been on a rainy day, our purchases had reflected this. Across the fields, through the woods over the A428 on the little footbridge. It’s funny the first few times we visited Crick we sat on this road in long tail backs heading to Crick show, today only one car passed below me. A wiggle round the houses and I was at the Post Office.

Goody Post Office beans

Birthday cards popped in the post and a quick check to see what local grown veg was available for sale. Then down to the Co-op for some pork chops, milk and a few more bits before returning to the Post Office for some peppers and the obligatory Runner Beans. Back along the bridleway spotting little blue butterflies flitting this way and that, but none of them staying put long enough for a photo.

Some work emails to catch up with. New printing costs were in, with a few extra pieces added to the list we’d managed to get the price down by £1000. Still waiting to hear about everything else though.


Another Christmas rub/marinade was tried out on the pork chops, all very tasty sat outside. The evening wasn’t quite as sunny as the day had been, but it was nice to be able to sit out again. If the weather continues to be good we may have to find ourselves a new bbq as the one we’ve had for nine years now is starting to disintegrate.

Cracks Hill

A boat arrived wanting to wind. We watched as the70ft boat turned into the winding hole. Bow thruster, pole. The bottom was really quite silted up, another attempt to get tucked further in. Eventually they managed to have enough room to swing the stern round. So glad Oleanna’s not that long!

7 locks, 4 a staircase, 3.8 miles at the top of the Nebo report, 5.2 at the bottom, 1 tunnel, 1 boat passed, 0 mysterons, 1 pipe delayed rendez vous, 1 mooring just for us, 1 big bunch of beans, 2 cards, 2 chops, 4 kebabs, 4 hours shore leave, 1 tiny limp.

2 thoughts on “Post Office Beans. 10th August

  1. Adam

    There were some Water Lodges at the Crick Show, and Aquavista are putting them in all the marina that have suitable road access, apparently. Should suit all the people who like sitting in a marina and not going anywhere!

    I’m not a great barbecue person, but we bought a Cobb last year, after I met up with the Herbies who have one. Uses only three or four bits of coal a time, the outside stays cool, and if you put potatoes in the gulley at the bottom they come out like lovely roasties!

    1. Pip Post author

      Apparently at Crick there have been narrowboaters not wanting to move back to the end of the marina where the Lodges were. The one in the photo was apparently off to Brighton.
      I’ve looked at Cobbs before, might have another look. Our barbecue handily folds very flat and nicely sits in a locker taking up little space. Thank you for the links

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