Hours Cruised – 7
Peregrin Falcons spotted – 1 (plus chicks)
Idiots met – under the new rules – 0
Classic Album – Marvin Gaye – What’s going on
It was going to be a long day today if we are going to make it to Braunston, so we needed to set off early. 10am again! That seems to be our default starting time. Only 3 locks today at the end of the day at Hillmorton (picture of Blue Rover at the top of the first of them below!), so basically about 6 hrs of cruising!
If Brindley (born 300 years ago in 1716 apparently!) had had his way, it would probably have been double that, but later engineers reworked the North Oxford cutting out many of the loops, and significantly shortening the route. The down side is that the new route is VERY straight, and thus the driving becomes a little boring!
Only real interest came at Newbold (following the Volefest on the Ashby, even spotting a water vole shortly after setting off was a bit run of the mill), where there was some precise driving required to navigate a very narrow section with 2 boats queuing in a water point on one side, a bridge, and 2 boats coming in the other. Added some spice to the trip though!
Arriving at Braunston at about 5:30, and thinking moorings would be at a premium, we were delighted to spot one just coming up to the marina. However, on mooring up and walking into the village, we discovered that it was actually really quiet, and there was loads of space right through.
Tomorrow is going to be the interesting day as we have to pass through the bottleneck that is Watford staircase. Normally, 2 canals converge just below Watford. From Braunston (us) in one direction, and from the Buckby flight in the other. However, we heard yesterday that the locks at Buckby were closed as someone had managed to trash one of the gates on Lock 8, meaning that currently no boats were coming up, potentially reducing the congestion! Good news for us ( not so much for those coming up the Grand Union). Apparently (according to NB Briar Rose’s blog – different Briar Rose to the one we have been playing leapfrog with all week, though we did pass them again today too!) there is a growing queue of boats at the bottom of the locks, so when they fix it, there will be a steady stream up the locks. Many heading for Watford. Ideally, we want to get there before this.
Smart money (according to the brilliantly named Lee King of the CRT – Thanks for that one Briar Rose) is that they will have them fixed tomorrow afternoon, so our aim is to get off early (it will probably be 10am!) to be at Watford by lunchtime, avoiding the rush!
Well That’s the plan!
In all the excitement, I have forgotten to mention the Peregrins! Coming back from the pub having eaten, walking past the Church, we heard what sounded like a hawk of some kind. Knowing that some churches use recordings of birds of prey to scare off pigeons, that was the assumption. But on looking up, we saw a hawk landing on one of the trefoils adorning the spire, followed by the squawking of chicks. Looks like they have gone one better and got a real hawk to scare off the pigeons. A fact that was confirmed by 2 locals passing by who told us that this was the 3rd year they had nested.
Couldn’t get a pic of the falcon, so here is a photo of the church ( the falcon is in there somewhere, honest!)