Tuesday 21 November 2023

Buckby to Milton Keynes. Grand Union Canal.

Our new plan meant that instead of hectically moving the boat every other day for two months in order to get below the stoppages, we could slow down and smell the clichés. We started with a visit to Linzi and Paul who live on Nb Happy Daze near Rugby. Linzi showed us her new collection of water-colour cards that she’d painted and printed for an up-coming craft fair. She is so talented and so prolific, and her paining skills have transformed their boat. Every time we go there there’s something new and beautiful, and their mooring - which started off as a muddy bank when they first took it over seven years ago - just keeps getting better and better. We came home with a lovely kingfisher card...

...and the feeling of being a little bit tempted to put Legend on the waiting list for a mooring there, but only a little bit, we’re not ready to stop quite yet.

Back at Legend, we replaced the tomatoes and courgettes in the big round tubs with daffodil and tulip bulbs in new compost, and re-potted all the strawberries, again in new compost ready for the spring. Along with the cyclamen in the flower troughs the roof garden was looking quite respectable.

Some of the left over strawberries ended up in the hanging basket.

We had a day snuggled by the fire with the hatches battened down, then the next morning packed up and set off for Bristol for a couple of days with Anne and Andy. After the stormy weather the day before we were treated to a lovely sunny day driving down, but the M5 reminded us just how awful UK traffic can be.

Anne and Andy had just got back from a holiday in Madeira. Sadly all the cake had gone, but there was still some rum left, which was delicious. With some of that inside us, we decided that the skyline parkrun in Bath the following morning would be a good idea, but our resolve rapidly faded in the morning when we woke up to heavy rain, and we were far too easily swayed by a lie-in instead. After breakfast we drove into the city and spent a bit of time looking round the M-Shed, before going up to Cabot Circus to meet Sam off a Megabus. Sam is the Australian we met on a WRG camp five years ago when she was doing five weeks of canal camps back to back. We introduced her to Anne when she was looking for somewhere to live in Bristol and, despite her moving back home in 2019, we’ve all kept in touch ever since. We all get on like a house on fire, and it was fabulous to catch up after so long. We had an amazing Lebanese meze lunch, then went back to A&A’s for a happy afternoon chatting. After dinner we went out onto their balcony with it’s city-wide view, to watch the Guy Fawkes night fireworks and wave some sparklers around.

In our serendipitous style, despite not even knowing they were a thing, the fireworks in the grounds of their flat started off just as we went out. It all got a bit dramatic when one of the big rockets fell over and shot across the shrubbery before exploding...

...but thankfully no-one got hurt, and no shrubs were harmed. 

The Sunday was a beautiful clear sunny day so we drove over to Leigh woods for a walk up to the viewpoint looking out over the Clifton suspension bridge.

 Anne’s son Alex came along for the walk, then we were joined by her other son Ben for lunch on Gloucester road. After that there were fond farewells, lots of hugs and promises to visit Melbourne when we go back to Oz, and we set off back across the country. When we got back - after a few hours in a warm car and giving us a stark reminder of things to come - Legend felt freezing, but with the Squirrel stoked up and the electric blanket* on, it wasn’t long before we were toasty and tucked up in bed with Strictly on catch-up.

From Buckby we moved on to Stowe Hill for a couple of nights and then Gayton Junction.

Dave did a couple of wood wombles on the way, but since the price of fuel has gone through the roof more boaters are collecting wood and it’s becoming harder to find stuff. He’s pretty resourceful though, and at that point, although it had come close, we’d not actually run out.

Ann-Marie has restarted midweek runs; the cold grey mornings and the muddy GU towpath have sometimes tested her resolve, but she’s stuck at it and faster parkrun times are proof that she’s getting fitter.

When we set off from Stowe Hill, Dave pressed the started button and the Mighty Lister just gave a click and a grunt. That’ll be a dead starter battery then. It’s about ten years old, so no surprise really. We jumped it with the leisure bank, which is OK to do on occasion, but short, high current loads aren’t something leisure batteries are designed for, so getting a new starter battery is top of the list. Also on that list are oil changes for the boat and the car, which means finding somewhere where that’s possible. For the boat we need a wide enough towpath so we can make a pile of the engine covers without tripping people up, and for the car we need somewhere that’s close to the boat and Dave’s tools, and with hard standing so he can jack the front up. We also need to find somewhere that sells SAE 30 mineral oil for an 1970’s Lister, without paying through the nose for something in a “retro” metal can at a chandlery. This nomadic boating malarkey isn’t all swanning about in the sunshine you know.

With the boat tucked up safely at Gayton we drove down to Mytchett for a couple of days so that we, along with Karen, Andrew, Mum and Dad could go down to Chichester for Bob and Carol’s party. We know Bob and Carol from our 2cv club days donkey’s years ago and it was a combination of Bob’s 80th, Carol’s 75th and their 20th wedding anniversary all rolled into one. It really was a fantastic do with loads of our old mates that we hadn’t seen for ages. Carol had organised it all and managed to keep Bob from finding out about it till they turned up on the day. That girl really knows how to make a party; she’d not only put a buffet spread on, but arranged a wood fired pizza truck and an ice-cream van as well. And because it was a sports club the bar prices were rock bottom, and there was endless free tea and coffee.

We spent the night in Karen’s spare room, then in the morning we went with Dad to the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) museum, which was really interesting but flippin' freezing. There was so much to see there we could easily have stayed longer - the volunteers were extremely knowledgeable and very chatty - but the shivering was becoming a distraction and we had a table booked in the Admiral for Sunday lunch celebrating Dad’s birthday. After that, (well after that and after pudding at Karen’s) we had another long drive home and an other evening warming the boat up again.

From Gayton junction we carried on along the long summit, through Blisworth tunnel, and moored up in Stoke Bruerne just before the canal museum. Kathryn, another of our old 2cv friends, lives there, so we popped along for a chat. Kathryn used to have a narrowboat and her aunt was one of the “Idle Women”, so there’s always plenty of common ground for interesting discussions.

The following day Dave was head down in the engine room fitting a relay on the inverter and a remote illuminated switch for it in the bedroom. Because our inverter uses a small amount of our precious electricity just by being powered up, we only switch it on when we need it. Having a little glowing light switch in the bedroom to remind us will firstly save it being left on unnecessarily, and secondly mean we can switch it on and off without going into the engine room.

The next day we were up early and off down the Stoke Buerne lock flight. These locks were all built with side ponds; the really useful water saving reservoirs alongside each lock chamber, but unfortunately they are all silted up and none of them actually work any more. Click Here for a youtube explanation of how side ponds work

One of the Stoke Bruerne flight's silted up side ponds.

These days they’re all pretty little nature reserves and dipping ponds - which is nice. However, because the side ponds included the lock bypass weirs in their construction , now that they don’t work any more, any excess water - with nowhere to go - overfills the lock till it runs over the bottom gates.

That’s all very pretty, but without bypass weirs, when a boat is going down the flight, it can raise the water level in each lock - and the pound above it - by a good six inches. And when the crew of said boat are as slick and efficient as we have become over the years, unless we purposefully slow things down, the towpath below us can, to say the least, become a bit swampy. Local dog walkers in soggy casual shoes have been known to complain. It all sorts itself out at the bottom though as the little River Tove crosses the canal, taking any excess water with it down the overflow sluices. We stopped in the last but one lock while it settled down and while Dave transhipped some tools from the engine room to the car which we’d put in the very nice car park, then moored up at the bottom while he went back and did an oil change. After lunch we carried on to Cosgrove and moored up just after the Gothic bridge.

Strangely, no-one quite knows why such an ornate and clearly expensive bridge was built here. This, from the Cosgrove History website appears to be the closest anyone has got;


In 1800 the two halves of the Grand
Junction Canal met here. Construction began at Brentford in Middlesex and
Braunston, Northamptonshire. It is said that a certain Colonel Solmons, 'Lord of
the Manor', agreed to the cutting of the canal on condition that he was allowed
to erect the necessary bridge. However the Lord of the Manor at this time was
George Biggin Esq., whose residence, Cosgrove Priory, is in sight of the bridge.
The proximity may explain the bridge's unusually ornamental appearance.

Whatever the reason, it’s a lovely unique thing, and has survived a long and arduous life.

We took the car to Campbell Park in Milton Keynes the next morning and cycled back across the city to Cosgrove, using the CycleStreets app to navigate our way along the Redways and underpasses. Dave got a bit stressed because he hadn’t charged his phone, and he had visions of us of getting lost for weeks in the MK concrete jungle, but it was fine and we got back to Legend without once touching a road. MK gets an unfair bad press sometimes. Yes it’s all artificial, with it’s road grid and roundabouts and man-made parks, but what is natural about the countryside that we all know and love? It might look pretty with it’s fields and sheep and cattle, but when all's said and done, it’s just a great big man made food factory.  At least Milton Keynes is honest about it.

Back at Legend we pulled the pins and had a chilly afternoon chugging our way down across the Great Ouse aqueduct, through Wolverton and following the canal on it’s course along the northern edge of Milton Keynes. We were heading for Campbell park, but after lots of tick over cruising past all the moored boats we ran out of enthusiasm and daylight at Bolbeck park and moored up opposite the iron Shire Horse statue on the Gyosei Art Trail.

All the way through the city there’s no shortage of places to moor and the canal is always just a step away from MK’s huge network of cycle-ways and footpaths, quite literally on the other side of the hedge. Because of that the actual towpath sees very little footfall. You are aware that you’re moored in a city; outside the boat there is all the usual road noise and hubub of urban sprawl, but the only people to walk past your window are the occupants of the nearby boats, making it feel very quiet and safe. This was the fourth time we’d visited Milton Keynes and we’ve always felt happy here.

Wednesday 8 November 2023

King’s lock to Buckby. Grand Union Canal (Leicester Section).

While Ann-Marie was still in Nottingham, Dave had another day single handing up the 18 locks to Newton Harcourt.

For a few of them he was joined by Pam and Keith, a Kiwi couple on Nb Kune Kune, so that made things easier. They tied up at Kilby Bridge but fortunately after the next couple of locks, a local chap called Vinny gave Dave a hand, which he very much appreciated. Some of the bottom gates were inclined to swing back open after he’d shut them; the way to stop that happening is to hold the gate shut and slightly open a top paddle till the water keeps it shut, and obviously that’s a lot easier with two people. You can do it on your own by opening the top paddle then running back to shut the gate, but it doesn’t do the lock any good and it looks like panic.

Dave tied Legend up overlooking Wistow church and the rural centre,

exactly where we’d been with Nb Matilda Blue when we‘d come up here a couple of years ago. It had been the beginning of summer then, with the little River Sence gently meandering between the sheep on the flood plain below the canal. This time the flood plain was rapidly turning into a very wide fast flowing river as Storm Babet drenched the country from top to bottom, and the bedraggled looking sheep were huddled in a bunch by the fence.

While the weather was rubbish, Dave took the engine-room door off, planed it, straightened the hinges and re-fitted it with longer screws so that it shuts without us having to kick it, which is nice.

After two days of heavy rain Ann-Marie came home. The journey back from Nottingham was pretty horrific with lots of abandoned vehicles and flooded roads. Some of the water was so deep that one of the plastic inner wings got bent backwards and Ann-Marie was mortified because she’d broken the car, but it was quickly fixed with a cable tie and Dave was just grateful that she got back safely.

Ann-Marie accumulated a fair bit of foliage in the floods!

Our social media was full of stuff about flooding. Everywhere behind us there was devastation; the moorings at Birstall were under water, there was flooding all through Leicester, and at King’s lock, where Dave had been a few days previously, the River Soar had risen so high that it was over the top of the lock gates.

This isn't our photo, but it could have been if Dave hadn't moved when he did.

Getting moved was a really good call, and we felt very fortunate that we’d been able to do it.

Predictably, most parkruns were cancelled, but we’d got a busy Saturday anyway. First we went to Peterborough for lunch with Diane which was lovely; it had been far too long since we’d seen her and she’d not been well, but it was good to see that she was on the mend and looking good.

After that we went over to Bourne, where Bob and Mandy were staying at their old house - now Mandy’s mum’s - for dinner, then out to a Black Dog Ceilidh.

We were really looking forward to it because Glen and Holly were also going to be there...

...as well as our old Morris dancing side, Bourne Borderers. They opened the evening with a dance set and dragged us up to join in. Considering it had been 13 years since we’d danced and waved big sticks around, we didn’t make too much of a hash of it. The Ceilidh was really good fun and we were up and dancing for most of it, then back to the house for a brew and bed.

In the morning, after Bob’s bacon bagels and lots of hugs and goodbyes, we set off for Smeaton Westerby, where we left the car and walked back to the boat. On the way we met Pam and Keith, who were working Kune Kune through Crane’s lock, at the bottom of the Kibworth flight. It would have been nice to share the flight with them, they seemed like a great couple, but they were too far ahead of us to catch up. Hopefully our paths will cross again sometime. Back at Legend we set off with lunch on the back deck and the washing on the go. We had a lovely sunny autumnal afternoon working up the locks and through Saddington tunnel, before mooring up just before the footbridge at the bottom of the Foxton flight.

Two days later, assisted by the very friendly lock keepers, we set off up the flight...

...and moored just after the visitor car-park bridge, nose to nose with Matilda Blue.

Bob and Mandy returned just in time for lunch on board Legend while their heating kicked in, then we helped them down the flight.

At the bottom we waved them off on their way to their winter mooring at Market Harborough...

Yes, We know that's not the way to Market Harborough, but they went to get some diesel first.

...then with a celebratory ice cream we walked back up to Legend via the observation platform at the top of the inclined plane.

All too soon it was time for Ann-Marie to put her bags in the car and set off back to Nottingham for the third session of her trial, leaving Dave to fend for himself for another five days. He didn’t have chance to get lonely though, that evening he re-united Bob and Mandy’s car with them and stayed for an evening of Bake Off and left over Ceilidh nibbles...

...before wobbling home in the dark. Over the following three days he took Legend across the summit to the top of Watford locks...

Misty morning boating on the summit.

 ...first stopping just after Welford Junction...

Legend hiding in the reeds.

...then again at Crick Wharf.

Mooring on the Leicester Section summit is really easy; there’s no shortage of lovely, south facing stretches with yards of Armco, the towpath isn’t too bad and there’s services at Crick (where there’s also a Co-op), Welford and Yelvertoft. If you were looking for somewhere to spend the winter tootling back and forth, it ticks most boxes.   

Martin and Yvonne dropped in for a cuppa while Dave was at Crick, on their way to see their son Max in Manchester, so he made some scones...

Not a patch on Ann-Marie’s of course

...and had a lovely catch up with them. The pair of them were looking well, despite Martin’s recent spell in hospital. Recovery had been difficult, but thankfully he seemed to be over the worst.

The mooring at Watford is one of our favourites...

...there’s a lovely view out over Watford Park on one side, with a gentle hill up a sheep field on the other and despite the proximity of the M1 it is very peaceful. Dave was there for two days before Ann-Marie came home, he filled his time with putting a couple of coats of gloss on the side hatch lid, re-hanging the fridge door and cutting up kindling. He also had a rather hairy cycle ride into Daventry for supplies. He’d forgotten how narrow and muddy the towpath was between Watford locks and Norton junction, and had to get off and push it a few times to avoid falling in the cut.

Ann-Marie came home and after an afternoon spent moving the car to Norton Junction and walking back, Dave set to work on our pumpkin ready for Halloween in a couple of days time.

The next morning we cast off, following Karma and Chalkhill Blue down the locks with our pumpkin on the roof and all the Halloween bunting in the windows.

As we expected, there was no room to moor at the junction, nor between there and the New Inn, so we shared Buckby top lock with a little boat called Compass Rose and moored just below it.

That turned out to be a better place to be than up at the top - being closer to the car park and quieter - and although it was signed as a 48hr visitor mooring, we got there on the 30th of October and, unless there is signage to the contrary, from the 1st of November, all short term moorings revert to 14 days. That evening we sat down and re-considered our current plan. We’d been on a dash to get down to the bottom of the GU before the winter maintenance closures at the beginning of January, but it meant we weren’t seeing any of it and boating was becoming a chore that we had to fit in between trips away from home. Also the new ULEZ - which we have to pay a daily rate to take our car into - was now in force and extended out over the GU below Rickmansworth. So, even though being down below there would put us closer to Mum and Dad, if we had to get public transport for all or even part of the journey to see them, it would take longer than driving down from anywhere further north. It didn’t take long for us to scrap plan A and slow things down. We still want to go down and onto the Thames and the Wey in the spring, but we’re now going to do the bottom of the GU after the closures in March, giving us more time to enjoy the journey.    

With that decision made we put the bird table up and settled in for a week. We needed to leave Legend while we went off for a visit with Anne and Andy in Bristol, and we needed a day to plant the spring bulbs and re-pot the strawberries, so Buckby Top lock was perfect.

As we’ve said many times, the only reliable thing about our cruising plans is their unreliability.     


Friday 20 October 2023

Trent Lock to Leicester. River Soar.

We had a lovely Autumnal morning saying goodbye to the Mighty Trent...

...and boating up the pretty little River Soar to Kegworth...

...where we moored up at the deep lock,,,

...then sat outside in the sun for brunch.

It's a hard life sometimes!

Until the end of September, unless the river is in flood, Kegworth Deep flood lock is left open, so it makes a handy mooring.

From there we took Legend to Zouch, but not before we’d done a muddy parkrun at Dishley and cycled back.

Dishley parkrun was a little muddy

On the way to Loughborough. The Floating Pennywort is encroaching in from the banks.

We had the feeling that Autumn was definitely beginning; mud was re-appearing in our lives and we had the first fire of the season that evening, although ten minutes after we’d lit it we were stripping off and had all the windows open. 

The next day was the 1st of October ‘23 and the beginning of what turned out to be a two week Indian Summer. We took the boat to Loughborough (which we feel compelled to pronounce “Looger-borooger”) and made good use of the keb on the way, clearing the floating Pennywort out from behind the lock gates. Pennywort looks pretty, but it was beginning to threaten navigation on the narrower parts of the Soar.

Legend trying to eat some of the Floating Pennywort.

It's really heavy when it's wet, but we got a fair amount out..
This was in Loughborough, but it's all along the river.

We moored on the new bollards alongside the recently resurfaced tow path in Loughborough. In fact while Legend was there the top dressing got applied to the path and it now looks really good. That bit of towpath has constant footfall, there's always other boats moored there and it's overlooked by the houses opposite, so we knew Legend would be OK while we were away.

After a couple of days catching up with little jobs Dave packed a case and we drove the 13 miles to East Midlands Airport where Ann-Marie dropped him off for a flight to Belfast and another week helping Chloe and Sandy with the house build. Ann-Marie couldn’t go this time as she was in for a clinical trial, so we had a week in different countries mostly missing each other’s calls on Whats App.

The majority of Dave and Shandy’s week was spent up step-ladders making the ceilings airtight before the plaster boarders turned up the week after.

This meant firstly installing noggins and false rafters in all the edges where the internal walls and the real rafters didn’t line up closely enough, then stapling, taping and gluing an airtight membrane across the underside of the rafters and 100mm down the walls. The false rafters' main job is to give the edge of the plasterboard something to fix to, creating a solid corner.

Shandy also had the unenviable job of putting insulation above the membrane in the roof crawl-spaces that won't be accessible once the ceilings are plasterboarded.

When she wasn’t working, Chloe got on with applying airtight tape to all the door and window frames which was quite a mammoth task and had been keeping her busy for a couple of weeks already.

Airtightness is important because they have a Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) system in the house which, combined with the enhanced insulation qualities of the ICF walls, the Thermal Bead Screed and the under floor heating from the solar powered air-source heat pumps, will make it a very efficient and comfortable house indeed. The final two-man job the boys had to do before Dave went back home was to put insulation up in the roof of what they are now calling "The Gym". Shandy came up with the brilliant idea of using long wooden sticks with a flat bit on the end. It sounds primitive, but it worked perfectly.

 There's an Instagram time lapse video of them doing it here. 

Ann-Marie’s week consisted of packaging up some stuff that she’d sold on Vinted and taking it to various post lockers in town, then either consuming or binning the contents of the fridge, before packing her own stuff up and driving off for a four day trial. It was all a bit up in the air to start with because she was down as a reserve, and didn’t find out whether she was actually going to be on the trial until day two. She’d resigned herself to going home and was looking at flights to go and join Dave in Ireland, when she got told that one of the other volunteers had been rejected because his heart-rate was too low, so she was staying. The rest of her week consisted of the usual occupation of trial volunteers; watching telly and trying to sleep.

Ann-Marie got back on Tuesday then picked Dave up from the airport on Wednesday. The pick-up would have been a perfectly co-ordinated slick operation if Dave hadn’t left his case on the shuttle bus, and had to wait for fifteen minutes in the rain till it came back round. Doh!

 As soon as we got back to Legend we cast off and began our trek up the Soar towards Leicester. It was still raining when we set off but we had a schedule to keep to, so Dave armed himself with the big brolly and some waterproof trousers and ploughed on up to river. He didn’t need the wet gear for long though, the rain eased off and we had a lovely afternoon making our way to Barrow on Soar where we moored up just above the lock.

Approaching Mount Sorrell.

The next day we carried on to Birstall via the services at Barrow. We didn’t see another moving boat all day apart from a trip boat that we met on a blind bend and only managed to avoid hitting by some hasty reversing by both skippers. Why is it always blind bends or bridge ‘oles?

The was only one other boat moored at Birstall so we got the perfect spot and went for a walk round the lovely Watermead Country Park.

Birstall moorings. Notice how the bank comes about half way up the boat.

 In the evening it began raining and didn’t stop till the morning, by which time the river had gone up a foot and was in the red on the marker on the lock wall, so no boating for us. The Soar is notorious for these almost instantaneous fluctuations in flow. It has a very narrow catchment area, so heavy rainfall in one area can cause a lump of water which quickly travels down the valley raising the level, then dropping it just as fast. 72 hours seemed to be the usual interval, which would be too late for us to get anywhere before Ann-Marie had to go back into the clinic. We’d had plans to get to the other side of Leicester in the next couple of days, but that plan got scuppered and we hastily hatched a new one. We decided it would be ok to stay in Birstall till Ann-Marie came out again then catch up with some big moves after that.

We slackened the ropes off allowing for a further rise, then caught a bus back to Looger Borooger. We treated ourselves to a conciliatory (and delicious) lunch in Olivia’s café then recovered the car and drove to Go Outdoors where we got Ann-Marie a much needed new coat. While we were there we got some Nikwax Techwash and TX waterproofer to treat Dave’s coat that he loves, but which lets the rain in. If the weather carries on in the same vein we’ll soon be able to let you know how well the Nikwax works. We then drove to Zouch and recovered our bird table, which we'd forgotten to pick up when we left, and then went back to Birstall. By the time we got there it was still raining, the river had gone up another foot and was only an inch or two off flooding the towpath.

Birstall moorings 24 hours later.

 CRT had issued a closure notice on the entire river from King’s lock to the Trent, so we knew it would be a few days before we could go anywhere. Through the evening, the rain eased off and we kept our eye on the river level. It began to fall before bed time, and by the morning it was back down to the Armco, but still a foot in the red.

Staying at Birstall for the weekend meant we could walk into Watermead Country Park on Saturday morning for parkrun, and then again on Sunday to volunteer for the junior run. We had the first frost of the season on Sunday, so we were wrapped up like Nanook of the North while the kids ran around the park, then back home for lunch with a fire and an afternoon game of Rummikub till dusk, when Ann-Marie had to go back for her second week on the trial.

In the morning Dave kept himself busy with some boat jobs, including repainting the shelf/cup holder/box thing that sits on top of the rear hatch while we’re bobbin’ along...

...and sewing up the top of one of the cratch cover zips that was letting the zipper come off, and had been bodged with a safety-pin for a month. He also did his first wood womble for a couple of years; last year we were moored in the wharf at Bollington and were using coal, so he had a year off wood collection and cutting. It was a bit of a shock to be at it again, but he soon had a little haul of hawthorn and ash under the tarp on the log pallet. Meanwhile the river was back down in the green and the rain had stopped.

In our Whats App chat that evening we decided that as Storm Babbet was on the verge of sweeping across the country and bringing more rain, it would be a good idea for Dave - while he had a window of opportunity - to set off and single-hand the boat through Leicester and get above the river section at King’s Lock. So at 7:30 the next morning Dave set off. It wasn’t a promising start; ten minutes after casting off, he managed to drop his aluminium windlass in Birstall lock. He had however, had the foresight to allow for this eventually and had put three jubilee clips on the handle so that it could be recovered with a magnet. Unfortunately he hadn’t considered the possibility of the magnet falling apart and losing it’s string, but luckily it got stuck to the hull so he was able to get it all back. By this time another boat had turned up to use the lock so he had to leave it. We have other windlii so he could carry on. Single handing was relatively easy going up the river through Leicester, the double locks all have very nice boaters steps up the bottom wing walls, so it’s very easy to hop off with the rope as you go in, then tie the boat up and work the lock without having to climb up a slippy ladder. The locks themselves are quite gentle, mainly because the baffles on the top gate paddles are mostly bunged up with stuff.

 Passing the Castle Gardens mooring in Leicester.

A sad sight on the outskirts. This was someone's pride and joy once, and probably their home too.

Dave had Legend up through King’s Lock by 12:30 and stopped for lunch.

After lunch he cycled back through Leicester to once more recover the bird table, and by the time he got back it was nearly tea time.

We call this one "Bike with Bird Table"

We’re going to have find a fool-proof aide memoir to stop that happening.

Buckby to Milton Keynes. Grand Union Canal.

Our new plan meant that instead of hectically moving the boat every other day for two months in order to get below the stoppages, we could s...