Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Final Push For Home

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

Picturesque, but shallow, stretch near Grove Church Lock.
We had a lot less to do than yesterday in mileage terms, but, unlike the flights of locks we did yesterday, much of today would be individual locks spaced out enough to make it impractical to have someone easily setting them ahead of the boat.   WE would make it back today, but it is the kind of day when guessing likely timings is quite hard.

We had demolished quite a bit of the largely lock free stretch, before the locks start to kick in again for the climb up to Tring summit, but still had quite a few miles before reaching the shallow Fenny Stratford lock.  Our friend Alan, the former mooring warden there, said "you should be back by tea time", and that felt about right to us - particularly if you were not too precise about what constitutes tea time!

We then encountered two different hire boats starting up ahead of us, and often taking a ponderous or slow course, (sometimes both!).  We managed to get past these before Stoke hammond, laving them to share Southbound locks at a rather more sedate pace than we hoped to maintain.

Cath steers between the final Seabrook locks.
Stoke Hammond Three Locks still had the same very competent volunteer lock keeper we had encountered here before - one of the few we saw again on the whole of the GU from Braunston.  He was enforcing a regime that optimised water use, (hardly necessary at the moment!), but this caused only a small delay.

From Leighton Buzzard back to our home mooring isn't far, and only 9 locks, but it often seems to take a while, not helped by seveal badly leaking locks, and a significant number of slow fillers, that lack top gate paddles.  You can obly make so much progress, and we were largely doing as well as this stretch allows.

Swing bridge near journey's end.
In the end we probably bettered "tea time", but even doing a less than full clear out of the boat after a full calendar month afloat managed to absorb a lot more time.  Still, we had managed what had seemed fairly unlikely only 4 days ago, when still right up at Alvecote - not bad, and Cath could work as planned on Friday.

I have just realised we still need to get Sickle back now, though!

Linford Park to Home Mooring
Miles: 21.2, Locks: 15
Total Miles: 502.0, Locks: 300 (Worked)

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