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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2014 – Day 6

Posted by indigodream on 2 May, 2014

Sunday 20th April

Simon and Carrie are excellent dog-walkers :-)

Simon and Carrie are excellent dog-walkers πŸ™‚

We probably should have moved the boat today but….

It was much nicer to spend the morning chatting to Carrier and Simon over hot cross buns and coffee! Carrie (and Simon) adore hounds and the hounds adore her – she got her fill of greyhound cuddles and we had to do another careful houndie count to make sure that none had “accidentally” been smuggled onto nb Blackbird!

Then, we drove back to Watford, minus hounds, for a traditional Easter gathering with Richard’s family. We weren’t worried about leaving the hounds – we’d only be a few hours and they were very tired! We’d intended to stay until 3pm-ish then come back and maybe do a few locks. However we were hampered by Richard not wearing his watch and my leaving my phone out-of-reach in my jacket pocket. We hadn’t realised that the clock in our host’s dining room was an hour slow – we were congratulating ourselves for getting away almost on time when we saw the clock in the car – OMG!

The boat was only 20 minutes drive away, but by the time we got back, the light was disappearing under a layer of black cloud. There was time for an ecstatic houndie welcome and quick walk before the heavens opened. We decided to stay put!

Monday 21st April

Berkhamstead to Slapton

Tranquil Sunday at Berkhamstead...

Tranquil Sunday at Berkhamstead…

I’d spent some time working out how many lock miles there were between Berkhamstead and Fenny Stratford – our target for the weekend. Urk – that would be 53 lock miles (for the uninitiated, when you’re planning your cruising, a lock counts as one mile), hmmm, that would be a whacking 13+ hour day! Now, we don’t mind a long day’s cruise but that’s too much, so we decided to see how far we’d get and then finish the last stretch on Tuesday.

Unusually, we didn’t have any guests on board today, so we could take time to stop off at the rubbish point and pop into Waitrose to top up on essentials, namely bread, pasta and dog poo bags – you wouldn’t believe how many we go through!

Then we bimbled up the last few locks to the summit at Cowroast. We had a lovely surprise – there was nb Derwent 6 with crew Del and Al enjoying the day on their front deck. We pulled in for a chat, Al and I share the exact same birthday, we exchange greetings every year but we haven’t met them before. They were every bit as lovely as their blog would suggest so that was another half-hour while we chatted and tried to persuade them to join the SPCC for a tideway adventure or two. We have never had such a sociable odyssey, and it’s been all the better for it πŸ™‚

The cutting was as shaded and mysterious as ever – though the towpath was a black quagmire reminiscent of the notorious Woodseaves cutting on the Shroppie. But on the water it’s a lovely lock free interlude before the open vistas of the Marsworth reservoirs and the first “fall” of the Odyssey. The Marsworth flight was busy with gongoozlers – after yesterday’s rain, the sun had emerged and it was proper t-shirt weather.

There were volunteer lockies at the top locks – the lockies didn’t seem especially happy about their work but they were efficient enough and I don’t doubt that the many day boats out of Pitstone appreciated their help. We came through the first lock alone, then waited at the second while a day boat caught up with us. I had some misgivings about the day boat, but they proved to be pleasant locking companions with Grandad doing a good job on the helm. The hounds came off in shifts – Ty and Ollie first (on lead), then Henry and Archie had a run on the offside (such a useful feature of the Marsworth flight), then Herbie had a bimble (on lead) – happy hounds!

Del and Al of nb Derwent 6 - it was so fantastic to meet them at last :-D

Del and Al of nb Derwent 6 – it was so fantastic to meet them at last πŸ˜€

We were soon down the main flight and going to one of my favourite stretches of the canal network – the peaceful surroundings of the Seabrook and Ivinghoe flights. The day boat travelled the last few Marsworth Locks with us. I persuaded the grandson, who’d taken over on the helm, to move in tandem in the short pound between the two locks – he did a great job! They were leaving their hire boat back at Pitstone Wharf so we carried on, to find another returning day boat turning the next lock in front of us – bah! Never mind, it gave the hounds another chance to have a bimble – we’d left the gongoozlers back on the main flight!

We spent the rest of the afternoon/evening cruising quietly by ourselves – these flights are wonderfully rural with plenty of opportunities for houndie rummaging. Then we had the stretch beyond Ivinghoe – all wonderful, though we won’t be mooring at Horton Wharf any time soon. I was about take to the ever-busy Archie for a rummage (on-lead) when Herbie joined us on deck. “No problem” I thought, but then I spotted three kittens gambolling around on the offside, then the two fat cats sitting in the lock cottage garden – whoa, that’s too many cats for us. The hounds were bundled back into the cabin!

When we got to Slapton we had a decision to make – press on to the Grove for a pub supper or moor up in the long pound between Slapton and Grove Church lock. We decided to moor up – the stretch was quiet, rural and largely unoccupied – even Herbie could have a run off-lead. Surprisingly, when Richard let him off, he just ran back on board – we were to find out why later – he has a very sore foot! The others had some wonderful runs, though Ty couldn’t be let off-lead – he’d never run back to the boat :-p

Thanks to my trip to Waitrose, I had enough food on board to make dinner – we were never short of chicken for the hounds!

We had a largely quiet night, though my cunning plan of putting the luxury memory foam dog bed in the corridor for Archie backfired when Ollie decided that it was HIS and abandoned the previously favoured end-of-bed nest. Ollie wouldn’t rest until I’d moved Archie off! That left Archie needing help to get past Ollie to the end-of-bed nest – what a performance. By 12.30pm the hounds were finally settled and I could get some sleep!

Photoblog:

Wonderful start to Bank Holiday Monday at Berkhamstead

Wonderful start to Bank Holiday Monday at Berkhamstead

Archie and Henry - the mainstay of the Rio Olympic Looking team..

Archie and Henry – the mainstay of the Rio Olympic Looking team..

Nesting season :-)

Nesting season πŸ™‚

Mucky path..

Mucky path..

Towpath adventures - a mile walk between locks was more than enough for the hounds - Apart from Archie, he's always up for more but then he is the youngest :-)

Towpath adventures – a mile walk between locks was more than enough for the hounds – Apart from Archie, he’s always up for more but then he is the youngest πŸ™‚

Want a cheap chimney for your boat - how about adapting an old fire extinguisher :-)

Want a cheap chimney for your boat – how about adapting an old fire extinguisher πŸ™‚

nb Sentinel has a magnificent bow....

nb Sentinel has a magnificent bow….

Trying tandem moves with a day boat - the novice driver did very well :-)

Trying tandem moves with a day boat – the novice driver did very well πŸ™‚

There's some lovely scenery beyond the Marsworth flight - one of my eternal favourites..

There’s some lovely scenery beyond the Marsworth flight – one of my eternal favourites..

I really fancied these moorings - if we could persuade the owner to let us fence off a bit of the land then it would be perfect...

I really fancied these moorings – if we could persuade the owner to let us fence off a bit of the land then it would be perfect…

Sad sight - that's a lot of boat to lift...

Sad sight – that’s a lot of boat to lift…

Moorings at Horton Wharf - we won't be mooring here - too many cats!

Moorings at Horton Wharf – we won’t be mooring here – too many cats!

Moody skies...

Moody skies…

Good view of the Whipsnade Lion though :-)

Good view of the Whipsnade Lion though πŸ™‚

 

2 Responses to “Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2014 – Day 6”

  1. carrie said

    I’m afraid we found a handful of poo-bags in our pockets once we’d left! Nevermind, they’ll come in handy for future woofy encounters.
    Walking three dogs was a treat πŸ™‚

  2. indigodream said

    Pockets full of poo bags are part of your street cred as dog-walkers – carry them proudly πŸ˜€

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