Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Grove Lock to Stoke Hammond (cruise retrospective)

We slept late. Yesterday had been unusually enervating for some reason. But no matter. We're in no hurry. Except for the slight pressure to leave before Jules leaves.

Late yesterday afternoon, two Jules Fuels boats came down Grove Lock and moored outside the pub (see photo above). They travel together, tied together for the main part, and we didn't want them to get ahead of us and slow our progress. So we were glad to set off towards Linslade and Leighton Buzzard.

The weather was cold, bitterly so at times, with a persistent gusty winds and some nasty, albeit briefish downpours of icy rain. I ended up wearing the same layers of clothing as I'd worn when travelling from Debdale to Yelvertoft in the snow of March 2013. Crazy weather!

Shortly after leaving Grove Lock, we moored at Leighton Buzzard Tesco to do a bit of shopping. Later, as we prepared to cast off, the Jules boats arrived, and moored behind us. What a good job we hadn't dillied at Grove Lock. Or dallied, for that matter!
It was raining, windy and chilly, and we were only one hour away from what we'd normally call lunchtime. There's a two-hour limit to the Tesco moorings, so we moved on just a quarter of a mile or so, past the Wyverne Boats yard, and moored again. We decided that it'd be best for us to eat early and spend the rest of the afternoon in uninterrupted travel. Fingers crossed that Jules would be shopping for long enough for us to have lunch!

We arrived at Leighton Lock less than an hour later, to see NB Suchar Daval pulling away from the bottom gates. She hadn't passed us recently, so she must have only just moved from their overnight mooring, probably having already driven their car on the next leapfrog, and cycled back. We waved as we passed them tying up again, below the lock, perhaps for watering.
photo - chalicecruises.blogspot.co.uk
We passed NB Naughty Lass round about here, too, but Robbie was not to be seen. 

Soulbury Three Locks next, where we found no less than four vollies, who saw us down the flight. I stood at the middle lock, and watched with interest as the bottom paddles were raised, and water flooded into the middle pound.

I came down this flight two years ago, with Jess, and we watched frozen with horror as the water rose in the pound until it overflowed the walls and and ran across towards the doors of The Three Locks pub. It was only the combination of Jess dropping the paddles while I fled down to open the top paddles of the bottom lock that averted disaster.

Today, I watched the start of the same flood. But today, there were vollies waiting at the bottom lock, and when the water started to overflow the gates, they calmly opened the paddles, and there was not even the threat of a flood. I suggested to the nearest vollie that it might be a good idea for CRT to put notices up to warn boaters of the danger, and instruct them in how to avoid it. How on earth would a canal newbie, a hirer from nearby Wyverne, perhaps, know?
photo - geograph.org.uk
We pressed on to Stoke Hammond Lock, where we'd now decided we would moor and escape the cold wind and rain. We met NB Achenar moored just above the lock. They've been out cruising for some weeks now, but like to travel slowly, often staying at one mooring for several days. We hooted as we drifted past them, and Phil came out to chat while we waited for a pair of boats to come up the locks. Determined to do just one more lock, we descended, and moored for the night a few hundred yards further down.

It was cold. Silly-wooly-hat cold.
photo - www.sierratradingpost.com


  1. Ah I've just caught up with you again. Your trip has been wonderful and I like the real time interludes. Crick sounds as if it's great fun to be there. I will now look at Grace's photo gallery before I hit the hay. I have to be up early for work tomorrow, so can't make this too long, Lovely to travel with you like this!

    1. It's good to have you on board, Val!