Monday, 30 June 2014

Northampton to Gayton and beyond

Day 3: Northampton to Weedon Bec
Up betimes to another sunny day though some cloud cover could hint at more moderate weather to come.
Past a deserted industrial warehouse and its pigeons, past the grassy park littered with last night's revelry and into a series of 17 narrow locks that come thick and fast. This is where a third crew member would be great, going ahead to prepare the lock so we don't have to moor up first.
Sometimes the overflow comes rushing in from the sides and pushes the boat across. Just when you think you're on target you're heading for a wall, while slowing down means you lose the velocity to counter the side force. Sometimes you just have to go for it - which is why they describe canal boating as a contact sport ....
Under the M1 by way of a giant concrete pipe ...
and at last to Lock number 1, end of the flight of 17
We pause for lunch at Gayton, which marks the junction between the Northampton Arm and the main line, (it's a sign of our growing confidence as well as our fatigue that we can stop for lunch) then on through a blissfully lock-free area to Weedon Bec, mooring opposite a wharf and within earshot of the main west coast railway which broadcasts the sound as of rushing wind and doesn't disturb us at all.
There has been some vibration in the stern in the last few hours and now John, ever alert, finds (secretly to his delight, I believe) that one of the engine mountings is loose, probably as a result of our collision with the log yesterday. This gives John the opportunity to wield his Massive Adjustable Spanner in earnest and soon the engine is rebalanced.
Here at Weedon Bec we have exceeded our route expectations by about 2.5 hours.
We visited here on our original search for moorings and by chance came upon an area that was built as a military ordnance depot in the Napoleonic area. It was chosen as a place as far from the sea as possible yet reached by canal so weaponry and gunpowder could be transported here. It was also planned as a last refuge for the King should Napoleon overrun the country. It is still defended by a fierce security man, as we found when we wandered in. It is also a possible site for the Fire Services National Museum, which explains the smattering of fire engines hereabouts. Not much of this can be seen from  the river as we pass, however.
We have an evening meal at the Heart of England (get the reference?) on the road over the bridge from our mooring. Good food and good service.

Today: 11.5 miles, 18 locks, 8 hours

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