Monday 5 May 2014

Braunston locks and tunnel

Braunston to Norton Junction : 4 miles, 6 locks
To date : 1314 miles, 881 locks

We enjoyed a lovely walk around Braunston village early this morning.  It was so pleasant being quiet after the gongoozlers of yesterday.  We wandered through farmers' fields, climbing stiles and dodging lambs.

Our 48 hours at our mooring was up at the end of the day so we discussed what we should do.  Will we move on a little way?  Will we get through the Braunston locks?  The tunnel?  To the junction?

Eventually we decided to just go and see how we felt.  The locks are doubles and we've not had those for a long time..... and..... the last time we had our cruising buddies with us.  The next problem was that we were facing the wrong way, having winded at the marina entrance in search of a mooring.  We decided to reverse back to the marina entrance again and turn there.  Going forward to Braunston Turn junction would be just as difficult as it's not a junction where you can just turn, having a sharp entry from each direction beneath twin bridges.  We would have to go forward under the nearest bridge and the reverse out again through the other bridge.  With lots of boats on the move that would likely prove as chaotic as plan A.

We waited for a lull in the traffic except the hire boat that had just passed in the direction of the marina was winding there to come back towards us.  They took an extremely long time about it as we could see they kept turning their tiller in the wrong direction.  Just as they seemed to have things finally sorted another boat came out the marina exit in front of them.  Eventually they were on the move again and with still no other boats coming we made a dash for it..... as well as you possibly can in reverse on a narrowboat.  The wind was going to be of help if we got it right so nudging the stern into the marina entrance Mick got the bow starting to swing around.  It worked a treat and off we went.

At the bottom of the first lock it was in our favour but there was no other boat waiting to share it.  We lurked for a bit but eventually decided to go up on our own.  By the time we were almost ready to exit the lock at the top we spied a boat arriving down below.  Mick ran back to ask if the crew on nb Fig's Folly (those Folly boats seem to keep appearing) wanted to share the lock work with us so we helped them through the lock and then set of together.  We flew up the locks with all but one of them in our favour.  They kindly let us go ahead at the last lock saying they'd close the gates as we'd been kind to help them through that first one.

We passed three boats as we made our way through Braunston Tunnel and every single one of them came to a stop waiting for us to pass.  It makes it difficult as they can't steer when they aren't moving and tend to drift into the centre of the tunnel.

As we emerged into the sunshine it was apparent we had something around the prop.  It was lunchtime so we moored up and while Mick removed the rope tangled around the prop shaft, I made chicken sandwiches.  Fig's Folly passed by while we had lunch so we gave them a wave.  As we neared Norton Junction we saw them yet again.  This time they were coming towards us and pulled over to moor up for the day.    They're heading back again from their weekend away.

At the junction I stepped off to investigate the mooring options.  We could either turn at the junction and then reverse back down the Grand Union just a little as there were moorings before the Buckby Locks, or turn the way of our destination and moor just beyond the junction in the Leicester section.  The views were pretty from the mooring I could see vacant around the corner so we turned left and pulled in with views of romping calves, canola fields, and the section of canal we had just come from across the valley.  Gorgeous.

We remembered the tiny shop called Anchor Cottage Crafts that was a couple of locks down the Buckby Locks so set off on foot to have a look.  I had seen small canal prints in shops before and looking at them again we decided to buy three of them unframed so they'd be easier to take home.  We really do have to stop buying stuff to take home!

I caught up on a bit of work, trying not to be distracted by the fabulous view out the window.  We have no television here which is a shame.  The final of the snooker is on!! 

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