Continuing our journey north, we woke to the most glorious of days, so decided to make the most of what autumn was left. Today was a true Codiwomple To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination. We would take a detour just for the pleasure of cruising and venture down the short Welford Arm.
First though, it was with great amusement (and smugness) that we cruised underneath the A14As anyone from Suffolk knows there are only 2 escape routes, the A12 and the A14, both long tedious roads that are too small for the volume of traffic using them. We had crawled the A14 many a time on our way up to Braidbar and frequently stopped off at Welford to refresh our sanity. Seeing the A14 from the canal is much much prettier. Mind you we did have a moment when we thought the canal would grind to a halt, we had “leaves on the line” More in the lock than on the trees,Although what were left on the branches were pure gold.Welford itself has a small marina basin at the end of the line, we were able to moor up and head for sustenance, this time enjoying a huge bowl of homemade soup, in Totty’s tearoom. It’s a tiny place and the as the owner/cook/waitress chatted to us, she got Eric summed up in one, and offered him a second bowl on the house. Silly man, he was too full for the best coffee and walnut cake I’ve had for a long time, not that it stopped him having a piece. The light was going as we got back to Firecrest so we didn’t walk around the village this time. But this little detour was worth it. We will be back again to visit Welford and to explore properly.
I think most boaters have been to Crick at some point on their canal adventure, not always by boat, and usually over the May bank Holiday weekend when the annual Crick Boat show takes place. The Marina and surrounding fields are ideal for hosting this inland waterways festival, we spent many an hour, and a pound, meandering around show boats and accessory stalls dreaming of what life could be like afloat.However this time we emerged from the Crick tunnel and made straight for the Moorings pub for a pie and a pint. (Or in my case a rather tasty mediteranian fish stew)We had plenty of time to explore this pretty area, while we took a few days to use of the Poste Restante mail service offered by the post office. The young farmers put on their annual bonfire and fireworks display for us. I harvested some crab apples from the millennium woods and made some jelly. And we met up with our new “best friend” the fuel man Mark on Calisto. Hopefully he’ll be keeping our tanks topped up over the few months. And finally here are our neighbours for the week.
Not quite lock, stock and barrel, but leaving Braunston meant
stockand tunnels. (This is Crick tunnel, nice and straight, if a bit drippy)
Our plan was to cruise on to the Leicester Line. A stretch of canal we haven’t done before. Usually the Braunston double locks are fairly heavy but usually busy enough to meet someone share with and to meet boaters travelling in the opposite direction so at least some of the locks as set to our favour. This time was no exception and we got through in no time. Even the Braunston tunnel didn’t cause us any problems. And we moored up in the woods on the Daventry side so I could walk down to Tescos for supplies.Back out into the open again,
under the pretty bridge by the cottage, to turn onto the Leicester Line, enjoying the autumnal sunshine as we went. The next day we cruised at 3 miles an hour alongside the M1 going at at least 70mph, we passed the Watford Gap service station, (not worthy of a photo) a few miles before arriving at the Watford Flight. CRT is closing this flight for essential repair for 6 weeks before Christmas so we had to make our ascent before then. Unlike individual locks the Watford flight has 4 staircase locks, where each lock empties or fills from the adjacent lock, so if you dont open the paddles innthe right order you could end up flooded or stranded. Consequently there are volunteer lockies on duty to help you through. Its quite straight forward if you rememeber the rhyme
Red before white and you’ll be alright, white before red and you’ll soon be dead.
We both took our turn and enjoyed the day
Having enjoyed Jo’s company for a few days it was time to pull the pins and continue our journey as we headed into Braunston.We don’t particually like cruising through Braunston. It’s narrow and busy with bridges and bends. But it’s a lovely active village with good reasons to stop. So this time we moored on the north side, just before the Midland Chandlers water point, still on the North Oxford canal.Last time we came this way our eyes were distracted by a burnt out shell of a boat, so we failed to appreciate what a lovely mooring spot this is. Although I think other canny boats have already marked the spot, it’s usually full up. Thankfully CRT have removed the dead boat which was a hazzard to us all.
After a few days, stocking up on Braunston Bangers at the butchers, and a few extra bits and bobs from Tradline, the rope emporium. We said our goodbyes to Braunston for this year. The sheep didn’t seem that bothered to see us go.