Hatton Lock Climb

Hatton LocksOh dear, we joined the early brigade. For one day only. All sorts goes wrong at unearthly hours, sugar in the wrong tea mug etc. Anyhow by 7.30 we were already into the locks. The mist was probably a good thing as we couldn’t see the daunting flight peering down on us.Shrewley Tunnel

Most were for us. And operating a strict one gate, one paddle operation the climb wasn’t too painful. At least not from where I was stood anyhow. A few volunteers about as we reached the top, not something we’ve experienced before but there seems to be some kind of respect thing going on for early morning boaters…

On a few miles where we mmoored for a bit of engine work...oored up high, looking down on green fields with cows. A quick boat clean inside, boat wash outside and a fuel filter change.

It was evening by the time he asked, ‘What day is it’ (Tuesday), ‘What are we doing here then?’ (What?!) ‘I mean we’re a whole day early, where did yesterday go?’ (?)Perhaps it’s time to visit the real world for a while…

Flight Sleeping

2539Leaving Long Itchington we set off into locks, locks and more locks. The number of boats on the move dropped off the closer we got to the Hatton Flight. Grand Union Through Leamington Spa, a quick Co-op fly by then onto Warwick where we finished the shopping list in lovely Lidl. On past Tescos, food comes easily along this stretch.

The sun came out this afternoon, we’ve been flip-flop travelling with a guy on a hire boat whose shorts have been getting alarmingly short. Finally spotted him de-boating at Kate Boats in Warwick, phew.

Boats lurched awkwardly as we rose up through Cape Locks and on past The Cape of Good Hope, with water levels all over the place Bottom of Hatton flightwe had a quick attempt at mooring before moving up through the first of the Hatton Locks. Moored, showered, drinks poured when two boaters headed past, straight from the lazy tree. Locks empty, gates left wide open…we looked out at the easy ride ahead. Too good an oHatton Flight pportunity to pass by we untied and worked our way through the open lock gates, cooking along the way. Part way into the Hatton Locks, we’re sleeping in a pound but at least we’re sleeping level unlike the poor wonky boaters at the bottom.


Chain Dipper

bongosYesterday was mostly about buying a very expensive chicken, moving a copantsuple of miles and drying out everything from the day before. Moored up whreclaimed chainere we once heard bongos, the wind whipped through the boat putting right the aftermath of our soaking. In under the step, the water pump looked a bit damp too, a teeny leak was soon sorted by tightening a few screws – any sign of water tank water in the wrong place gets our hearts racing since the big flood.

This morning we wound round endless fields of rape, under pretty bridges and down through Caluctt locks. Lunch and ‘big’ football was followed by a canal dip for Nick. You learn by water pumpyour mistakes on this boat, he who drops the mooring chain gets in to fish it back out. We’re down to the last two. It took a while, apparently the bottom was pretty mushy and judging byStockton Locks Grand Union the gunk stuck to the chain when it eventually appeared, pretty grim. An unexpected Sunday roast dining show for the couple on the boat next door. Nice. Lucky lady.

Moved on before dropping doCalcutt Locks - Grand Unionwn through Stockton Locks, a few locks in and the chase began. An army of energetic lock setters sent out from a boat way back were snapping at our heals. Never one to turn down a challenge, Nick popped over gates, legged it between locks, wounds paddles like his life depended on it. The ferocious pace meant it wasn’t long before we landed in Long Itchington. Busy moorings and busy pub.


Busying Up

Watford LocksIt’s getting busy. With more windlasses than paddles, Watford Locks felt like potternarrowboat speed dating. We did our stint with the upcoming boats then shuttled down spending a few minutes getting to know someone new positioned on each gate. Flight complete we’d subconsciously made note of potential double lock buddies or the more serious long-term commitment of a moor alongside. Mrs Jones exploded at the lock keeper after Braunston Tunnelwaiting too long, her virtual feedback might not make happy reading.

All a bit gloomy as we chugged on, lunch on the roof – not the sunny, relaxed, laid out type but the we’ve barely moved an inch all morning sortBraunston Tunnel

A right hand turn away from London we motored on into Braunston Tunnel, disappearing into darkness the rain began to hammer down. Flips, it was busy in there, we were one of three and had two coming at us. Lights dartingmoored at Braunston about all over the place, disorienting on a normal run, one oncoming guy decided to wear a hard lamp…and then bob about all over the place – if you fancy messing with boaters’ heads this is a pretty good way to do it, out the other end nobody had a scooby what had been going down in there.

Word they'd weighed in finally reached 'the' village...Cambridge again next year Sar?! x

Word they’d weighed in finally reached ‘the’ village…Cambridge again next year Sar?! x

Shared Braunston Locks with a lovely couple – she’d spent the entire tunnel cleaning their bathroom as they totally terrify her. Raining hard enough to stop anything being fun by the time we moored.

A sad day for Swiss Family R – short arms and deep pockets are no longer a problem with new fangled elec-tron-ic money tranfers…pigs really do fly.





Grand Union Leicester BranchMist rolled over the hills as we untied from the forgotten rusted rings. More glorious countryside, never ending waves of cowslips, rape, primroses, bluebells, lambs, calves – perhaps there’s one long backdrop continually looping round.

Sunshine by the time we passed Yelvertoft marina, we liked it last year and it looked just as Crick Tunnelmellow today.Crick

On into Crick, after a big Leicester stock up the fridge keeps churning out meal after meal and is showing no sign of slowing up, so with barely more than a Co-op alcohol top up we pushed off again.boat passing in Crick Tunnel

Soon approaching Crick tunnel, a tiny starburst deep in the gloom slowly grew brighter until we crossed boats with a blinding light show. It was pretty wet in therCrick Tunnele today. Out in daylight, Murk emerged from the boat blinking his usual disorientated traumatised post-tunnel display. He hates them and heads straight for his bed as soon as he realises one is happening to him again.

Beautiful mooring tonight: ducklings, lambs and a couple of ducks who, with not much else on, are waiting by the hatch for more bread and look stubborn enough to wait all night.

Foxton Locks

FoxtonEarly starters jostled for position at six something, they were long gone by the time we made it onto the stern. The sun came out and midway upFoxton Locks the gongoozlers did too. Easy life back in the land of single locks, we hovered half way up for a few boats coming down before finishing the climb.

A load of laundry washed aFoxton nd spun, pulled in for a quick water top up before leaving locks behind for quite a while – the whole run through to Watford is lock free. Miles soon ticked by today, beautiful bluebell woods and fields of lambs.

Our priorities have changed since we left dry land, never thought we’d get so excited about four old iron rings. The rain had just about set in by time our ropes clanged through what seem to be long forgotten mooring rings out in the middle of nowhere.

Wistow In Yellow

Grand Union - Leicester BranchIt was a swift trip up to Wistow thanks to eight guys on a hireboatGrand Union Leicester Branch sharing the locks. What they lacked in skill (little things like winding paddles with boats half in locks and back gates still open) they made up for in strength – ten or so locks flew by without too much windlass contact.

With golden fields stretching forever, Chandlers ShearsbyWistow made the perfect Easter hideout, not a main stop on any cruising ring we hardly had a neighbour. The garden got a £6 makeover, that’s that done for this year. It’s also had an upgrade to the roof which will put an end to Nick yelling at it on the bow everytime Wistow, Easter Sundaywe moor up. Oh yikes, plants on the roof…things are slipping.

We set about finding a really tricky bridge for Auntie P and moored at Wistow, Grand Union Leicester BranchUncle D to pick us up from. With no sat nav assistance we had them circling the area for a while, befriending the locals, posting photo fits, sending up flares etc. Lovely to catch up with everyone after suchTaylor's Turnover Lock - Grand Union a long time – a quick drink back at the boat resulted in one boaty convert and two in the ‘floating caravan’ Swiss Family camp. Yes, for sure, we’ll meet at another bridge before too long!

A trip upto Foxton today, the usual…lockside horses?? Eeek it looked so wrong but the owner was merrily muck picking and seemed pretty happy with the whole deal.

Through Saddington Tunnel then out into very green rolling countryside. The sky grew dark and arriving at Foxton we decided to moor up and climb the flight in the morning.



AylestoneLeaving Leicester we headed out on the straight mile. Rowers, joggers, cyclists, everyone was Eastering out and about. A few wrist snapping, shoulder wrenching locks thenEaster Kilby Bridge on through Aylestone. In the days before environment agency and legislation the Wigston dye works pumped excess dye water through the sewage treatment works, it was spewed out a few miles up in Aylestone producing and inky black ribbon of water, a sinister looking stretch that nobody wanted to boat or be. All much cleaner today, in fact the whole Leicester experience wKilby Bridge servicesas practically murk free.

Blaby Bridge

Blaby Bridge


Quick mid-lock lunch, then more of the same – the locks continued to be tough going, and pretty much all against us. Past Glen Parva, through Blaby and South Wigston before a water fill at Kilby Bridge. Despite few moorings at Castle Gardens boat turnover  in Leicester is steady, hardly anyone seems Kilby Lock Bridgeto over stay which is pretty unusual for a city. Counting the miles on the map water might be the reason why…20 miles and a lot of locks between the last water point in Barrow Upon Soar and Kilby Bridge.

One last lock for the day then tied up on a stretch with beautiful views over fields of lambs, oh and a hireboat cannon firing from the top of the next lock… since pitching up they’ve come thick and fast, at all sorts of terrifying angles.


The Car Park

LeicesterSomehow narrowboating has wound us round a disjointed Richard III discovery trail. BosworthLeicester Battlefield Heritage Centre, actual battle site, ‘the’ car park, Bow Bridge, Richard III exhibition. It just happened like that, we’re not Ricardian nuts.

Lucky enough to find the car park gates open, it looked like any other dug up bit of tarmac, whilst being turfed out by a security guard I did mange to establish that it definitely was where the remains were unearthed. O1968nto the exhibition and then to Bow Bridge. It’s changed a bit over the years but having spent his last night in the Travelodge, Richard III  rode out over Bow Bridge, cracking a spur on a stone as he went. One gnarly old woman gloomily predicted that his head would strike the same stone on his return, which it did, unfortunately it was attached to his naked corpse slung over horseback. Yawn yawn, not one for you SFR.

Bow Bridge

Bow Bridge

Richard III car park

Richard III car park

Castle moorings continue to be brilliant apart from the bloke who scraped the entire way along the side of the boat before disappearing under West Bridge – the paint removal was met with a port-hole shout out.

Time is ticking on the mooring meter, all set for the straight mile and quite a bit more tomorrow.




Not quite as frantic as the trLeicesteraumatised woman on the Rochdale 18 but not far off, dropping into Leicester we passed a hire boat – ‘Move straight on past Castle Moorings, the kids can skim stones far enough to hit your windows!’ Eeek. So we chugged on, questioning the plan for today.

A bit of rubbish here and there but not so bad, the river gave way to canal and things did get a bit mucky but on a relatively mild level. On past The Golden Mile and though Abbey Park, sweeping round past Friar’s Mill and under West Bridge the greatly anticipated Castle Moorings lay ahead, all looked good – except for the fact they were chock full.

Grand Union - Leicester BranchPulled in for lunch on the rings opposite the floating pontoon, it wasn’t long before engines fired up and boat shuffle began freeing up a space, we jumped out ready for relocation. A boat reversed back, then back a bit more – the couple on the stern smiled as though we should recognise them but nothing was registering anywhere in our brains. Turns out they knew the original owners of our boat, they lived onboard for two weeks while they moved the boat for them. It was one of those part liberating, part unsettling moments – a reminder that you’re only passing through. Lovely couple and funny to think of a whole life the boat had Grand Union - Leicester Branchlong before us…

Tied up and chatting with our new neighbours another boat soon rolled under the bridge and moored alongside. Everyone talks here, mainly about the horror stories we’ve all read and how in reality everything seems realCastle Moorings Leicesterly very lovely. Off towpath gated moorings, bins, access to Castle Park that’s locked each night – what’s not to like?

A trip into the city is only about a two-minute walk, wfat mouseave after wave of vibrant cultural and architectural mix. The market is amazing – Lois Jane, if you ever read this your great chilli jam got made again! Gave up with the glove half way through then the slow burn began…ending up with a hand dunked in a saucepan of cold water for quite a while.Lois Jane Jam

Our up close alongside neighbour dropped a bit of a bombshell when he enthused about the HWBC rally at Foxton over the Easter weekend – hmmmm that sounds like a busy one, perhaps we’ll stay this side just a little while longer.