Wednesday, and with the weather improving we headed up the Grand Junction/Grand Union Canal in the general direction of Braunston and/or Leicestershire. With a need to get back to Cropredy or similar by the first week of October, we weren’t sure how far we would roam before heading there, but until reaching Norton Junction no decision is required.
A trip into Weedon Bec for provisions, a nice and genuine village, notable if only for the first time this year we’d seen a thatched building without a hairnet of chicken-wire. Here the canal runs very close to the West Coast Main Line, with Mr Branson’s Incredibly Fast Trains whizzing past every few minutes. Mind you, if his railway bridge needs that many ties to hold it together, perhaps going by boat is safer. We managed to moor up in a short section of canal where the railway was the other side of a small hill, and the M1 hadn’t yet got too close.
There used to be an Royal Ordnance Depot at Weedon Bec which had its own canal feeder arm, and was rumoured to be a Royal bolt hole should Napoleon get his wicked way. The water and buildings are still there, but these days it’s an small industrial estate and the security guard wouldn’t let us take photos. Their website has some piccies, but the “24 hour manned security” was a pleasant but tiny slip of a young lady who would need to run around in a shower to get wet. Perhaps she had a big stick somewhere.
Thursday, and we were aiming for Norton Junction and somewhere hopefully reasonably quiet. For some distance the A5/Watling Street, the West Coast Main Line, the Grand Union Canal and the M1 all run close alongside each other.
Determined to take it easy now we were back on the canals, we moored up in short order for second breakfast near an out-of-town shopping village so SWMBO could indulge in some quick retail therapy. In the first picture above you can make out the M1 traffic on the right, and the trains are just behind the trees on the left. In the second picture, taken from Watling Street, you can just about make out the railway gantries and the M1: the canal lies between the two. Not the best place for a peaceful mooring!
On return the Captain was clearly hard at work with the flight planning computer working out our cruising options, but by the time we were ready to cast off he’d clearly had enough and reached a decision. We’d go up the Leicester Branch a little way before returning south to Cropredy. Onwards…
At the bottom of the Buckby Locks there was a fair amount of chaos, as a CaRT maintenance boat was apparently staying in the chamber and going up and down doing something while one boat at a time of the queue each side locked through round them. Eventually CaRT finished, and we teamed up with a Wyvern boat from Leighton Buzzard plus its friendly crew, and made short work of the seven locks in the flight. They were about three days out of Leighton Buzzard; we were about two and half months, but then we did detour a bit!
The top lock is right by a pub and about 200 yards from Norton Junction, but all the nearby moorings were taken. Just round the corner from the junction on the Leicester Arm (note: decision taken!) there was – amazingly – a mooring suitable for Sir, and out of earshot of both railway and motorway. After such a long morning, the only option was a brisk walk back to the pub for a healthy late lunch (Guinness and Cheesy Chips) , followed by a well earned afternoon nap.