Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for September 14th, 2011

The Odyssey 2011: Day 46

Posted by indigodream on 14 September, 2011

Berkhamstead to Cassiobury Park

Thursday 1st September

Sharing locks with nb Imagine...

We almost had a good journey up to the boat this evening. We left at 8pm via Richard’s mum to drop Ty off, then we had an easy drive along the uncannily quiet M25………..until we got to the M4 junction and found that theyd just that minute shut the M25 beyond on account of an accident. I’ll confess that part of me was sad for the people in the accident but a greater part was cursing that we’d been delayed yet again! I shouldn’t complain though, they’d only just shut the motorway so we were able to divert along the M4, cut up through Uxbridge and back onto the M25 past the closure. Mind you even though we were near the start of the queue it still took 15 minutes or so to get to the junction.

We’re close enough to home to be able to carry supplies so there was no need to stop ‘n shop, just turn up, onload hounds and supplies and fall into bed! Predictably Indigo Dream had been fine on the moorings – Margaret and Roger walk Bess and Sharry this way so they’d kept an eye on her. Apparently Bess and Sharry have been looking onto the deck every day, wondering why their houndie friends aren’t there and why they aren’t going cruising! Amazingly even the bike had been fine – we’d forgotten to take it off the roof – wow, Berkhamstead is indeed a good place to moor!

Sadly Roger and Margaret couldn’t join us today because of other commitments but I hope we contrive a meeting before we cruise up this way again – that probably won’t be until 2013!

Friday 2nd September

After the frantic pace of the last few weekends, we had a late start today, setting off from the moorings at 10am. We hadn’t been idle though – Richard had done his engine plus gearbox checks and hoovered out the bilges.

It's all too much for poor Lynx...

A pair of boats passed us in the morning so we had the dispiriting prospect of locks set against us all the way and no locking partner. However as we were closing the gates at Topside Lock we were joined by nb Imagine who’s crew were out for a 2-week jaunt from Harefield. They’re very familiar with the waters hereabouts as they tend to weekend in the area – unlike us, they’re not too keen to leave the boat unattended so don’t move further out unless they can have a few weeks at it. Richard was planning to lock-wheel as usual but the puncture that he repaired last week failed (it was a patch on a patch!), he put in a new inner tube but somehow managed to lose a bit off the quick release bolt which attached the wheel to the bike. He searched lockside but it’s probably at the bottom of the cut. So, lockwheeling was off, but we had an efficient trip down the locks anyway.

They seemed somewhat reserved at first, but as the day went along we got them chatting a bit more and we had a pleasant morning’s locking with them. They stopped for lunch at Winkwell while we pressed on, later sharing locks with nb King Louie. They were more reticent – I never did get the helmsman to chat but I think that Richard did get talking to their lock crew – a tough wiry older man who seemed to be very efficient.

Although this stretch is more built up than other parts of the Grand Union, it’s pleasantly suburban and there are some wonderful spots – Boxmoor Top is as tranquil as any, despite the roar from the nearby trainline and road. It was a perfect place for the hounds to have a bobble (though it was hot so they generally just got off and lay down immediately). Lou was desperate for a splosh, but although the river Bulbourne runs alongside the canal and is accessible in places, she decided that the step down into the water was too far (maybe a foot) and she won’t jump into water!

We admired nb Aramand in passing – she had the most beautiful paintwork – done by Carnzu – who used to be based at Pitstone Wharf – we’ve admired their work before.

Sharing locks with nb King Louie...

We stopped off for water at Hemel Hempstead (above Lock 66) and said goodbye to the quiet crew of nb King Louie. There were many passersby, one, a lady called Anne with grandson Toby, interrogated us incisively about narrowboating – in the end I showed them round the boat – much easier than explaining! They were fascinated – you never know, we might see them out and about on the cut in their own boat one day!

We decided to stop for supplies at Hemel Hempstead – there’s a big retail park alongside the canal, allbeit on the offside. The 24-hour ‘shopping’ moorings just below lock 66 were occupied, but there were plenty of spaces on the towpath opposite so I set off to Sainsbury’s while Richard searched for the Halfords. I was back at the boat a while before him – Halfords is a good 15-minute walk from lock 66 – probably easier to get off at lock 65 and walk to it from there. Never mind, there was a nice lunch waiting for him when he got back and a nice surprise! He was mending his bike (Halfords had the necessary bolt) when he was hailed by a passing boat – it was the delightful Carrie from nb Blackbird. It was so lovely to see her – she moored up as soon as she saw the dogs and came over to give Lou and Lynx a big cuddle. It was a fleeting but worthwhile meeting – we hope we bump into her (and Simon from nb Tortoise) again soon.

Nash Mills has changed beyond all recognition - there was a new footbridge in the orignal development plans (no sign of it yet) - I wonder when it will all be finished?

Our extended stop at Hemel Hempstead gave nb Imagine a chance to catch up with us (they said they would!) and we shared locks with them for the rest of the day. I’m always fascinated by the area around Nash Mills – it’s constantly changing as the imposing old mill is replaced by modern intensive housing. The canalside mill building has been fully demolished now and the houses/apartments are going up apace – I wonder if it will be finished by the next time we cruise past?

Note: Red Lion lock has VERY leaky bottom gates, making the lock difficult to fill.

During the last part of the day we cruised through increasingly fine parkland – first the manicured perfection of the Grove (being enjoyed by a legion of moored boats) then onto the tree-lined magnificence of Cassiobury Park – I love the huge mature trees here – the beeches must be hundreds of years old – it’s something we don’t see every day.

We decided to moor above Iron Bridge lock – it was quieter than the mooring spots below the lock and had good access to a sploshing pool across the canal. Lou had a lovely time but Lynx was unimpressed – he doesn’t do water, but Richard carried him into the pool and set him down in the water. Lynx looked utterly disgusted and delicately minced his way out like a high-heeled WAG walking through a field of cowpats!

We ate on board – the moorings are silent but we had a restless night – the gas alarm went off again – this time I thought I got a faint whiff of LPG but I may have imagined it. We opened the hatches and windows, the apparent smell disappeared, we checked that the gas was off at the cylinder, turned on a gas ring to take out what was in the pipes and went back to bed.

We’ll get the system (gas and alarm) checked out when we get back to Limehouse…


Our gas alarm and motorised valve is a Haztec 2S manufactured by We suspect there could be a tiny leak in the motorised valve so wrote to Seath Haztec asking how new valves are and also inquiring about the life of the sensors. They came straight back with a detailed and useful reply:

“The valve is unlikely to leak in our experience.  You could however, get a leak between the valve body and the gas fitting that screws into it (the 1/4″ BSP fittings).

We do stock the valves, and a 1/4″ BSP 12 volt valve would be part number 139HZ12 and price is £42.18 + vat.

Regarding the LPG sensors, they last very well and we have sensors in the field that have lasted in excess of 10 years.  Generally speaking, if they function they are ok.
Calibration is done by the control unit.  It is possible to test the sensors by placing a cigarette lighter near each one and allowing gas to flow from the lighter above the sensor, and thereby triggering an alarm.
A more accurate calibration would require removal of the sensor and return to us, along with the control unit.

Should you need replacement LPG sensors, they are part number 136HZ02 and priced at £34.98 + vat each. ”

The spares prices are very reasonable – Richard’s Drager monitors cost £65 to service every 6 months and if a sensor goes that costs between £50 and £100 to replace. Our sensors are still functioning, we will use one of Richard’s Drager monitors, a gas bottle and my CO test cyclinder to check they are triggering correctly and get in a Gas Safe man to confirm that we are just being paranoid.


Makeshift slipway...

Apsley always looks so inviting...

The stretch above Nash Mills lock is attractive.....

I'm sure that the developers will want rid of this manky old rubbish barge once their swanky housing is finished!

Red Lion lock - leaky to the point of causing problems with filling - hope it's on the winter maintenance programme....

The cottage at lock 71 is beautifully maintained - I hope they're benefitting from the now green earthworks that were erected to screen the area from M25 traffic noise...

We inside the M25 now - so that's London then - uh, not really!

The lock cottage at Charlotte's Vale locks is delightfully quirky...

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