Saturday, 10 August 2013

A Much More Gentle Day

(Boats Chalice and Sickle together - posted by Alan)

Leaving a strangely deserted Hillmorton Locks
Whilst we are by no means averse to putting in long days boating if the situation demands it, we had broadly planned that on this trip we would be more relaxed, and not going hell for leather.  So, frankly, yesterday we messed up!  There is no particular attraction in arriving somewhere late, when you are tired and hungry, and then finding you can't even easily moor up!

So today was definitely going to be more relaxed, and we were in no great rush to get going.  Being moored close to the facilities in Braunston made it very easy to draw the boats forward several yards, and to take on water and deal with toilets.

I head away from Hillmorton having just taken the above picture.
However last nights chaos had left "Sickle" facing South when we wanted to be travelling North, so the first boating of the day, (if you don't count moving a few yards without engine!), was for me to take her and spin her round at the Marina entrance.

Next I knew there were things I could usefully pick up at Midland Chandlers, so I motored on up to there with "Sickle", leaving Cath and David to come along a bit later with "Chalice".  Fortunately, unlike my last visit, Midland were now actually aware that a small discount had actually been negotiated for Historic Narrow Boat Club members.  I left, amongst other things now certain I had enough oil to do a much needed change on "Sickle".

This hardly looks comfortable - he has a proper bed, but preferred this!
Most of the fancy lights in Newbold tunnel have long since expired.
The Northern Oxford is clearly a popular canal, (far mor so than most of our native Grand Union), and attractive enough, but it will never be a favourite of mine.  Certainly at a summer weekend it is now very busy, often with people who don't seem to be that clear what they are doing, and trying to keep out of their way with "Sickle" can be a bit of a challenge, as some seem unaware it will run aground if pushed towards the shallow edges, and also that bringing it to a sudden stop and holding a line can be "interesting".

Curiously though at Hillmorton Locks, allegedly the most busy in the country, there were very few boats at all, and unlike previous years where we have had long waits to get into the locks at all, today we were straight away on our way down.  Today a volunteer lock-keeper apperaed, and seemed happy to help lock David through single handed with "Chalice", whilst Cath and Odin stayed with me and "Sickle".  Odin will happily cross the top end of these locks, despite a quite narrow walkway, and a significant gap to it, but hates using a boarding plank to get on the boats!

We managed to find suitable moorings for both boats at Rugby, allowing both a shopping stop, and a proper sit down lunch, (still a novelty for us when boating!).

Clocking up the lockless miles.
Later on the map showed that there is a long stretch between Brinklow and Ansty that is largely accompanied by a busy railway line, and also at one point a motorway, and we know isn't the best overnight stop.  At Ansty it is often not possible to find moorings, so stopping short of Brinklow seemed the best option, and would give us our promised short day.

I was loathing doing an oil change on "Sickle", and was right to do so!  The job is just as unpleasant as I remembered it from last time.  The pump on the engine will not prime, and when it does is very slow to pump out all the oil involved.  The oil filter is inaccessible, both to remove, and to replace.  After a long fight, I emerged with both me and engine room coated in oil, but, at least with "Chalice" travelling with us, I had the luxury of a shower!

Braunston to Essenhall Lane Bridge, Near Brinklow
Miles: 15.1 (Each Boat), Locks: 6 (3 twice!)

Total Miles: 124.9, Locks: 42

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