Thrapston to Bugbrooke
Trip Start Apr 26, 2011
27Trip End Oct 31, 2011
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Almost a four hour cruise today in sunny weather through six locks and eight miles. Denford, Woodford and Lower Ringstead locks had the manual wheel system of operation. James' back knew about it later in the day. In the old days they were all manually operated and some people probably dreaded navigating the Nene. Rounding a corner just before Irthlingborough Lock we came across lots of canoes full of the nations young hopefuls wearing bright yellow or red helmets. They were having lots of fun.
At Irthlingborough there was a boat moored up with the name "The Boat". We moored a bit further on as they had a large German Shepherd. The facilities were still not functional so we couldn’t empty our cassette
We went for a walk round Stanwick Lakes which is partly a nature reserve, but also an adventure park, with assault courses and imaginative playground areas. They hire out bikes and have cycle trails around the lakes which used to be gravel pits. We had an interesting chat with the rangers to find out what wildlife was about. The golden plovers were just about to arrive in their thousands but we didn’t see one. We did see two little egrets and plenty of gulls of various sorts, plus the usual cormorants and geese, also lapwings. We are still seeing swallows.
Tue 20th September
Meandrine and Pipedream left at 8.00am. You can set your clocks by them. We left just after 9.00am with The Boat and we shared locks as far as Wellingborough
We filled our water tank from the tap, and emptied our cassette in the public toilets in the park (happiness is an empty loo!). We visited Tesco and got some vital supplies. The Boat had gone by the time we returned so we carried on upstream by ourselves. Upper Wellingborough Lock was full of weed so we flushed it through before we went in. Hazel strained her back trying to keep a lock gate open against the flow.
Wollaston and Doddington locks also had a lot of weed collected round the top gates in the wind so we had difficulty opening the gates, and then the wind made mooring up difficult while we reset the locks.
We met a BCF boat moored up – Dragon Lady so we stopped and chatted for a minute or two. We had intended to moor just above Earls Barton Lock, but the mooring was already taken by Meandrine and Pipedream so we carried on
Wed 21st September
We had an early start today - 7.10am. We completely missed the turning to Billing Aquadrome as it was marked wrongly on the Imray Guide. We carried on to our intended destination, the floating pontoon at Weston Favell, where we had arranged to meet BCF members Marian and Keith Thomas. We had only been there 30 minutes when Meandrine and Pipedream arrived. There was only just room on the pontoon.
Then we had a call from Andy and Sue from Springwater who were only two locks back at Billing. We suggested they moor alongside us for a cuppa when they arrived. We walked back to help them through the lock, but they were just leaving the lock as we arrived. Hazel had just washed her hair, and was combing it as she walked, and she felt an earring come off. We all spent half an hour searching the ground and the pontoon for this earring. We had all but given up when James discovered it on the chair where Hugo was sleeping. It must have fallen there when Hazel took off her fleece
Thu 22nd September
We heard Meandrine and Pipedream set off very early. They were planning to go straight through Northampton and up the lock flight to the Grand Union all in one day. We set off at a more civilised hour with Springwater and after pausing at the facilities, we were in Northampton at 11am. We had some shopping to do and then we found this oriental buffet called Aroma, which was excellent. Eat as much as you like for £6.80! Feeling very well fed, we bought a few bits at Morrisons on the way back to the boat. We then left and tackled the first four locks of the Rothersthorpe lock flight, and moored on the upstream lock bollards of lock 14 at almost 6pm. We didn’t think anyone else would want to use them after that hour. We planned to leave early the next morning to do the other thirteen locks.
Fri 23rd September
We left at 0805 and no boats had been past since we had moored up
At Gayton Junction we turned right and headed up the Grand Union. Very soon we came upon BCF boat Inchy moored up and we stopped and chatted to Roberta. While we there, Figs Folly went past – they used to be members of Byfleet Boat Club but they now live in Cornwall and moor at Calcutt so we don’t usually see them.
We continued our journey and stopped on the pub moorings at the Wharf Inn. There was no space opposite where we would have preferred to have been. Soon after we tied up, Rex and Margaret arrived on Amy Em, so they came on board for a cuppa. BCF boat What Next went past (Keith Barker), and then Slipstream went past the other way, with Chrissie, our minister from Weybridge, at the helm. We shouted our hellos but with Amy Em alongside already, there was nowhere for them to stop.
We helped a hire boat get moored up, and they were interested in BCF so we gave them a leaflet. Then a member of staff from the pub came to check that we were customers and asked how long we were staying. We said we had a table booked for 7pm for four people, but asked if we could stay until Sunday as there was no room opposite and we were away in a hire car in the morning
Allen and Angela, who used to live at Portmore Quays, arrived as planned at 7pm for a meal with us at the pub. They now live in Northampton and we try to see them whenever we pass through the area. Excellent food, well presented, not the ordinary cheap pub grub. They came on board for a coffee to round off the evening.
The end of a very sociable day.
Sat 24th September
The boater opposite (Bongaloo) moved off as planned, and we moved Gabriel across to the 14 day mooring. We packed a few items for overnight, set a timed feeder for Hugo, and waited for Enterprise Car Hire to pick us up, which they did at about 9.30am. They drove us to their base in Daventry and after completing the paperwork we left there in a VW Polo at about 10am. We had to get to a little village north of Holt in Norfolk for a family lunch, and it took us three and a half hours, going back past all the places on the Nene that sounded familiar to us
Sun 25th September
Two of our relations from the USA needed to get to London, so we took them to Norwich to catch a National Express Coach to Victoria. We then came back via lots of places on the Great Ouse and the Cam. We stopped at Anglesey Abbey (National Trust) to have a look around. Beautiful gardens and extraordinary collections in the house. There was one large room full of paintings of Windsor Castle – about fifty of them. These were the collections of Lord Fairhaven who must have been obsessive and fastidious. He never married, and he left it all to the National Trust.
Back at the boat we found Hugo perfectly OK and pleased to see us. This was the first Sunday that we haven’t managed to get to a church.