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The Odyssey 2009: Day 60

Posted by indigodream on 20 October, 2009

Monday 12th October

Croxley Green to Cowley

Common Moor lock in Croxley - all very civilised.

Common Moor lock in Croxley - all very civilised.

What a magnificent autumn morning – we’ve cruised in sunshine all day, enjoying surprisingly rural stretches of canal considering where we are. One small bridge over the canal had a ‘Transport for London’ low emission zone sign on it – are you kidding, transport for London, out here?

I’m hoping that the low emissions doesn’t apply to our boat diesel engines and the various entrails and feathers that seem to go into the onboard stoves around here. I won’t be giving Boris ideas – I can’t see him slogging though this blog 🙂

The only cloud on our otherwise azure horizon was the sheer number of online moorings around Batchworth, which made for a slow cruise. The fact that many were unlicensed and moored in random places made us ‘tut’ a bit, but I hate ‘tutting’ so I tutted at myself and put a stop to it 🙂

Tesco's at Frogmoor Wharf - now that's a supermarket mooring - empty too...

Tesco's at Frogmoor Wharf - now that's a supermarket mooring - empty too...

We met a few boaters today, all very jovial and all linked by a common theme – alcohol. I was a bit shocked by the amount of beer that had already consumed by 10.30am. Of course, maybe it was the influence of the media. One boater was a little disgruntled because they’d been asked to move off their towpath mooring by a film crew. We were intrigued, and at the next lock there they were – an unbelievable number of people clustered around an eccentric cruiser. We asked a member of the crew what they were filming – it was an episode of the detective series ‘Lewis’. I had to ask whether they’d be putting dummy bodies into the water and they assured me that the gruesome bits had been done elsewhere – this was the investigation! Our contribution to the episode was lending their safety man our sea-searcher magnet – one of the ‘children’, as the hard-bitten crewman called them, had dropped something into the canal. It was returned remarkably quickly after a successful search – there, we’d saved them from a tantrum! I did look out for the star, Kevin Whately, I might have seen the back of his head – that’s my day made then!

On the set of 'Lewis'...

On the set of 'Lewis'...

Interestingly they were filming at Stockers Lock, according to our Nicholson’s but the sign at the canalside sign read ‘Fiddler’s Lock’. Now is this a genuine name change or something done by the film crew to create a new location? Look out for Fiddlers Lock on an episode of Lewis coming your way soon …

Online moorings notwithstanding, there the stretch below Batchworth has a special magic – the Colne Valley to the right has been extensively quarried in the past. The lakes extend all the way down to Denham, and between the rich towpath hedgerows you catch glimpses of the sparkling deep blue waters reflecting the brilliant sky above. There was a sense of something precious in the air – I tried to soak it all in, trying to store something of the day against the gloomy winter to come.

Nicholson’s warns of a lively flow from the left below Copper Mill lock. The hazard of the flow has had an extra frisson added since we were last here; there’s now a canoeing club there obviously enjoying the thrill of the bywash. As we emerged from the lock, one of the canoeists had capsized, couldn’t get back in his canoe and was swept over to the

Black Jack's Lock - attractive, eh?

Black Jack's Lock - attractive, eh?

towpath where, thankfully, he was able to get out of the water safely. So, keep a lookout at Bridge 177 – it’s distinctive because it has a canalside pub – the Coy Carp (which, from memory, does good food).

The next lock along, Black Jack’s lock is particularly attractive, not least because of the buildings clustered around it. It’s obviously been a mill at one time, it looks residential now, and a very nice home it would be too.

We had the next stretch to ourselves – no other traffic and no moored boats. I was bit surprised, it’s stunningly attractive here and usually where moorers can they will! But the clear water soon explained all – it’s only about 6 inches deep at the edge of the towpath with a large gravel strand coming out into the canal. Is that a deliberate ploy to deter mooring or is it just a lack of dredging?

The aggregate barges seem to fill the locks, and the canal, from end to end :-)

The aggregate barges seem to fill the locks, and the canal, from end to end 🙂

Maybe to compensate for the lack of towpath moorings, there’s a long line of mooring bollards above Denham deep lock. We’d assumed they were lock moorings, but they’re actually 14-day spaces. We’ll have to remember that for the future – 14-day moorings with proper rings and/or bollards are a rare thing.

We picked up a pencil fender from the deep lock, figuring that someone else has probably benefited from picking up one of the many that we’ve lost in locks over the last year!

I handed the helm over to Richard at the deep lock – I’d volunteered to go and get the car so I’d be jumping ship in Uxbridge for the tedious train journey back to Bletchley. But the day’s interest wasn’t over – we met a huge wide-beam aggregate barge at coming out of Uxbridge Lock. Richard passed another one later on – it’s good to see freight on the move though it is a bit of a squash in places.

A fine day on a grand canal (oh, and anotehr aggregate barge on the move!)

A fine day on a grand canal (oh, and anotehr aggregate barge on the move!)

Richard dropped me off at Bridge 185 which is a short walk from the town centre. In the meantime, he single-handed through Cowley lock and stopped for lunch at the tearooms (Blue and Lou had their usual sausage sandwich). He bumped into Derwent 6, but he wasn’t sure where he’d knew them from so a blogging meeting went unregarded. After lunch, Richard took Indigo Dream along to our old home in Packet Boat Marina to pump-out and fill with water.

Big Note to Richard: To make the pump out machine work put the card in upside down!

He then took her back up the canal a little way to the 14-day moorings by Bridge 189. It’s a very convenient place to stop with very good road access and convenient street parking.

I had a slow old trip and didn’t get back to the boat ’til around 5.30pm.

As we packed up to leave, I suddenly realised that our Odyssey was over, we have come full circle to where we started.  Obviously we will keep cruising but not at the same intensity. The Odyssey 2009 was 10 days longer than last year’s and we’ve been privileged to cruise some extraordinary waterways. Richard has to do the count up properly but he estimates that on the Odyssey, we’ve travelled 800 miles and done around 500 locks, mostly on weekends.

So I guess it was worth investing in Indigo Dream then – imagine what that trip would have cost in hire charges :-).

It is hard to pick out the highlights of this trip, it has again been a wonderful journey but perhaps two we should mention are the SPCC Cruise to the Royal Docks (and that was before the odyssey!) and the BCN Challenge. If they run either next year and you have the opportunity then so take part folks – both are great adventures.

Photoblog:

It's only the first lock of the day and Lou's already looking for her bed....

It's only the first lock of the day and Lou's already looking for her bed....

Blue had an extended rummage at the first lock of the day so now he's looking for his bed as well!

Blue had an extended rummage at the first lock of the day so now he's looking for his bed as well!

What a poser....

What a poser....

Random moorings.....

Random moorings.....

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