I really dislike Braunston tunnel, almost every time that we have passed through it we have managed to meet another boat on the kink nearest to the southern portal. In addition to the obvious kink the rest of the tunnel isn’t that straight but it’s hard to complain about the hard work done by the hands of men long dead, given the circumstances in which they had to work and the low level of technology at their disposal.
We had a very simple plan, get up early and get through the tunnel before anyone else made it up through the Braunston locks on the other side. We were awake just after six underway at half past, just as the sun was rising. The air was cool but still as we travelled the two mile stretch to the tunnel and with only a handful of moored boats to slow down for, we reached the tunnel mouth forty minutes later. The contrast between the light levels inside and outside the tunnel was less than usual because the weak September sun was still low in the sky. Unsurprisingly, we met nothing in the tunnel and before too long we were back into the daylight and heading for the top lock of the Braunston flight.
Two cyclists and a dog walker provided us with the only signs of life as we descended on our own. Normally we try to time our journeys so that we arrive late morning in the hope that we improve our chances of finding a space where we want to be, the idea being that more boats are on the move during that period. Our hope had been to moor below the lock at The Admiral Nelson but accepted that our chances would be slim at half past eight in the morning. Well, the good luck that has followed us when it comes to mooring on this trip didn’t desert us and after leaving the aforementioned lock, we saw a Caxton sized space waiting for us. It started to rain shortly after we tied up but we didn’t care, we had completed our mission and moored exactly where we had hoped to be.
Despite our proximity to the West Coast Main Line, we had a good night at Bugbrooke although it was raining steadily when we awoke. We took our time getting out of bed and were unsure of our plans for the day. Eventually, the rain stopped and we decided to set off. As nice as Bugbrooke is, it is just another dormitory village where the residents believe that they live there even though they work, shop and socialise elsewhere.
We moved on to Weedon Bec and stopped at the moorings on the offside near the church. We’ve been here before so there wasn’t anything to explore that was new. Walking down from the canal bank brings you down into the churchyard, crossing a footpath which I think is the Nene Way. We had a look in the church as we passed through and then visited the One Stop convenience store which is part of the Tesco group. Next, we visited the nearby Plume of Feathers pub which was completely devoid of both staff and customers so after five minutes waiting, we left and walked along the street to the other pub at this end of the village, The Maltster’s Arms. We got served there but the place wasn’t very nice so we quickly drank up and left. Out of curiosity, we called back into the Plume of Feathers and were greeted by a very friendly landlady who explained that she had been cleaning upstairs. We had a drink and then returned to the boat.
The following day started off with bright sunshine so I did some cleaning of the roof. It’s a difficult job because it has a sanded, non-slip surface. We never walk on the roof so the surface is of no use to us but the sanded finish traps so much dirt and is a b*st*rd to keep clean.
In the middle of the day we had lunch and then walked to the upper part of Weedon by going down the steps from the canal, turning right on to the footpath, walking to Bridge Road and then going under the canal before turning left on the A5. On reaching the junction between the A5 and the A45, we popped in Tesco and bought a few bits before walking up to the Heart of England pub where we stopped off for a drink. Weedon Bec has a number of Antique shops but we have visited them all before so we did no more than look in the windows as we passed by.
We walked back along the towpath and passed by our old lock buddies on nb Que Sera Sera. Back at Caxton, I spent a couple of hours waxing and polishing the port side.
We were up and about the following morning nice and early and left our mooring in the early morning sunshine, just after eight o’clock. Our journey brought us into the Watford gap where the canal gradually gets squeezed in between the A5, the M1 and the WCML. Two boats were leaving the bottom lock as we arrived and we were soon joined by nb Grampa’s Lady, with a single hander on board. There were a few boats coming down the Buckby flight as we ascended and with Sue doing most of the physical stuff, we reached the top quite quickly.
Luckily enough we found a mooring above lock and just before the CaRT yard. We had lunch, went for a walk and then spent the rest of the afternoon outside the New Inn.
Time for a rant now!
As we sat outside the New Inn, nb Corona arrived at the lock. The steerer made no attempt to slow down and smashed into the bottom gate with such force that people came out of the pub to see what had happened. We have history with this boat and its owner who we presume to be Trevor Maggs as that is the name painted on the side of it. On a previous occasion, this boat shot straight out of the arm between Rugby and Newbold causing us to make an emergency stop to avoid T-boning it. We love the idea that there are many old working boats preserved and still in use on the system and although in the main, most owners are caring and considerate, I think that there are a disproportionate number who think that they have a priority over everyone else. They don’t, they have a leisure boat and pay a licence at the same rate as everyone else. No doubt Trevor Maggs, if that is his name, will also be one of those who complains about the poor state of the locks and that CaRT don’t maintain them properly. Here’s a clue Trevor, stop smashing the f*ck*ng gates up!!!!!!
Rant over – for now!