Rendezvous at Norton Junction

We stayed at Braunston puddlebanks till Wednesday. On Monday we walked into Braunston town with Izzy, and I bought some beef steak to do a stew sometime as the weather is getting chillier and is definately becoming stew weather! We also bought some kindling wood in the local convenience store. Walked Izzy back to the boat, then set off again for our promised Gongoozler’s breakfast, as by this time it was nearing midday. The cafe is situated outside Braunston marina, and is actually on a narrowboat. I think since we last had a breakfast here it has changed hands, but is certainly very busy. We just got a seat, and it seats 14 I believe. We ordered the large breakfast with a mug of tea as we hadn’t had anything to eat in preparation. Enjoyed by all double sausage,bacon and eggs with beans and tomatoes and bread. Certainly filled a hole. Whilst on board we got chatting to a couple sitting next to us, and it transpired that they came from Lostwithiel, worked in Braunston marina and kept their  boat at Crick marina (where we have booked in December). A lady sitting at another table had answered a remark I had made on FB regarding repairs she needed to her sofa. How funny, we got chatting about where we were heading and what she had done this year. We popped into the fender makers shop at Braunston marina and bought some new elastic straps for our covers.

 

an early morning moon

an early morning moon

Tuesday we had a walk to Midland Chandlers to get a few items, some of which they didn’t have, but Charlie bought a new clip (that had got broken in Tewkesbury), some fuses, and pot rivets! very exciting stuff. Their elastic straps for the covers were double the price we had paid the day before so we were glad we had bought them in the fender shop.
Wednesday we were moving to Norton junction. We set off at our usual steady pace, and filled up with water etc before arriving at Braunston locks.
Braunston junction turning right

Braunston junction turning right

different view of Braunston church

different view of Braunston church with tractor in the foreground

Gongoozler's rest cafe

Gongoozler’s rest cafe

passing Braunston marina

passing Braunston marina

We now had the 6 Braunston locks to do, and there was a hire boat already in the first lock, so we doubled up with them for the first two locks. At the third lock we ended up with a different hire boat. They had multiple crew which made it easier to go ahead and get the next lock ready; although the two boats ahead of us were certainly taking their time. One of the hireboat crew noticed our Cornish flag, and asked if we lived there. I said we lived mostly on the boat, but went back to Roche, Cornwall for appointments when required. They came from Charlestown funnily enough. Second lot of Cornish folk in one week! After the locks there was Braunston tunnel to negotiate; although two way working we didn’t meet anyone this time coming the other way.
Braunston tunnel

Braunston tunnel it took approx 30 minutes to get through. It is 2042yds long, built in 1796. A mistake when building it has given it a slight S bend

Once through the tunnel we had a gentle cruise along to Norton junction. I was steering at one point, when I saw a boat ahead coming toward a bridge. It looked like a working boat so I slowed to let them pass first. They were grateful I had given way, and they were towing as well.
working boat towing another working boat

working boat towing another working boat

We arrived at Norton junction around 2pm to find all the moorings were taken where we needed to be. A chap painting his boats gunwales said he was moving within the hour and we could moor in his private space temporarily until he was finished. This we did and had some lunch whilst waiting. But another boat decided to move first, so we slotted into that space instead. The cratch repair man Allan visited us Thursday and Friday taking various bits of our covers that needed repair, and returning them in the evening. Luckily the weather was dry with bow and stern being exposed over those two days. Allan had done a grand job of the repairs, so I managed to get them washed over and dubbin applied, which helps with the waterproofing. I also did an Asda delivery, and made use of the pub’s postcode.
Sunday we reversed back to the junction with the Leicester line, as this was the direction we were going in. We hadn’t planned to do any locks, although Watford locks were ahead. I’d just got the washing machine going when the locks appeared, so we decided that we would go through.
GU Leicester line

GU Leicester line

M1 motorway with Watford Gap services closeby

M1 motorway with Watford Gap services closeby

Watford bottom lock

Watford bottom lock

Now these locks are very close together and include a staircase of 4, so you have to seek out the lock keeper who then tells you when to go; as once a boat starts from either end, another cannot go in the opposite direction, as there are only two tight passing places. Charlie went up and arranged our passage. We had to wait for two boats to exit before doing the first two locks. Then we went through to wait in the first pound and allow another boat coming down to get through. Charlie worked the first two locks and I did the rest as poor old soul gets weary. I think it’s just an excuse.
Watford staircase locks.

Watford staircase locks.

There are two paddles to operate. The first being the red one (which can be seen in the picture), followed by a white one which allows water to flow into or out from the side pounds.
side pounds

side pounds

inside one of the staircase locks

inside one of the staircase locks

looking back down the flight

looking back down the flight

We were glad we had negotiated these as now we had a few miles of lock free cruising along this line. We have found a nice quiet spot overlooking a field of sheep. Well away from civilisation as it is half term. A few boats moving but generally it is quiet. In the last week I have arranged a hire car for December, for our trip back to Cornwall, and also arranged a couple of appointments (well my friend Amanda arranged one of them for me). Our next stop about a mile and a half away will be Crick, so we can pop into the marina and make ourselves known to them and find out our mooring spot for December. We also plan a little jaunt into Crick village. But for now enjoying the peace and tranquility of where we are. I hope this blog publishes ok as I have had a spot of bother with the computer today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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