We have made it to Croxley Green in close proximity to the Underground station that we will make use of on Thursday to travel to yet another eye hospital appointment for Bob. Found a quiet spot within a 10 minute walk so settling in catching up with washing, housework and blog while Bob checks out the facilities further down the canal!!
After leaving our mooring just above the Marsworth Junction we tackled the 9 Marsworth locks and Bron was very relieved to see the 3 Canal and River Trust volunteers who assisted us with most of them!! They are a very welcome sight especially when there is no-one to share the lock – and the work – with. This marks the summit of the Grand Union Canal -from here we will be going down!!
We made a snap decision to explore the 1 1/2 mile Wendover Arm and after a bit of navigating ventured into this rather secluded and narrow stretch of canal. At times you feel like you are meandering through a rain forest in an isolated part of the world and then you turn a corner and almost run into a huge flour mill right on the banks!! We got to the end of the navigable section and turned around not realising at the time that this was where new friends – Gary and Carolyn and their granddaughter Abbie – were moored – we did not actually meet them for a few more days!!!! There is a lot of work currently being undertaken to reinstate a further section of this canal and we took the time to wander along and check out progress before passing the Wilstone Reservoir (which supplies water to the Grand Union Canal) and locating the Farm Shop in Wilstone and gathering some fresh supplies. Despite much discussion we did manage to navigate our way back to the waiting Celtic Maid (Bob’s radar was working very well on this particular walk – Bron’s failed dismally).
Wednesday morning we made the return journey along the Wendover Arm and back into the main Grand Union Canal towards Berkhamsted. Bron enjoyed the almost 5 miles without locks but they soon returned with a vengeance! 7 locks later we decided to call it a day and moored up opposite the football club rooms. We had been fortunate in sharing several of these locks with a family who continued on as they had limited time to enjoy our leisurely pace. We took a walk to the high street and discovered the remnants of a market so snapped up some fresh produce bargains, meandered around the shops (picking up some more DVDs in the charity shops) and returned to the boat. We will try to visit the castle and some other highlights on our return journey when we have a little more spare time.
The weather has continued to be good although there are showers most days (I am told reliably that this is the norm and not the exception!), and occasionally the wind is a little stronger than we want. Also the distance we travel can be determined by whether we do locks on our own or shared and so how tired Bron gets. Therefore the distance travelled on Thursday was quite short – about 3 miles and 6 locks – but it took about 3 hours! We do travel quite slowly!!!
Our goal for Friday was to stock up the larder so Hemel Hempstead was the identified destination. With some shared locks, interesting people and lovely weather this section was rather easy – 3 1/2 mile and 9 locks plus a water fill up and refuse disposal. We moored opposite the rather popular Friday and Saturday night haunt – The Paper Mill Pub and Restaurant. Thankfully our porthole buns cut out significant levels of noise enabling some sleep!!! After a slow start on Saturday we were able to restock the cellar, fridge and store cupboards and also finally found a mirror for the bathroom (we had one but not over the basin!!??). Less luck at Dunelm as we were seeking solutions to the noise and draughts of our bow, stern and side hatches. Got a few ideas though so watch this space!!!!
When we left Hemel Hempstead on Sunday morning we soon paired up with Gary, Carolyn and Abbie from NB Inca to navigate the next 9 locks – they are coming thick and fast now! Abbie (7 years old) was very sweet and helped Bron out with every paddle and lock gate and walking between the locks all the time regaling her with all sorts of stories! She was wonderful company and Bron also appreciated the expertise of her grandmother Carolyn who has 12 months additional experience on these locks and it shows!!!! Meanwhile we had to remind Gary and Bob to move out of the lock when we had finished as they were swapping stories as the lock emptied and didn’t see the gates had been opened!!!
We eventually moored beside them just below Lady Capel’s Lock on the outskirts of Watford. After checking out some of the features of each others boats we enjoyed an evening drink before exchanging contact details and bidding a good night. We missed them leaving in the morning because as usual we were still fast asleep!!!!
So on Monday we traveled the last section to Croxley where we are now. On this stretch we passed a few places that we are keen to check out more thoroughly when we head north again in a couple of weeks. So for now we enjoy our close proximity to our medical appointments even though it feels like we are out in the country still. There isn’t even much towpath traffic.
Lots more photos have been added to the gallery – we hope you enjoy them.