London. We have just come through Brentford Gauging Lock 100 and we are headed to Campbell Wharf Marina about 5 miles north of Fenny Stratford Lock 22. It is around about 58 miles and 78 locks between us and long term rest. In a car this distance would be a couple hours even ijn traffic. In a narrowboat it is 8 days! This could break a spirit that is already tired so we had to look at it as two days and a break, two more and a break, one day without me, and another three days until done. This is the story of the first two days.
London was surprising as we expected to struggle to find mooringand probably need to double moor. That was not the case at all. Those stories are about central London on the Paddington arm not the main line of the Grand Union. That first night we were moored in a questionable part of the city I think but the people around us were friendly and even helped us moor up.
The next morning we headed out when we woke and got to our first lock of the day. There would be 10 locksin total today including a flight manned by a lockkeeper. Took Alan a few locks to suss out leaving me with the keeper and getting the next lock open but once he did it got much easier. Before the last two locks was a park with good moorings just next to the Three Bridges so Peanut got a bit of time out and we could have lunch. Peanut didn’t really want to come back in as he had had a few days stuck indoors but once we had him back we set out and did the last two locks of our day.
There was a long pound of about 5 miles lock free. Alan found it boring but I found it relaxing as I was sitting at my dinette reading and writing rather than helming. It was good to have time out of the sun. Reasonably early in the afternoon we found an unrestricted mooring a stone’s throw from a Tesco and moored for the night. This was just shy of Cowley Peachey and walking distance to the next lock.
Day two of this journey found us trying to get as much distance as we could as Alan wanted to be out of London asap. He also had to go into work for a few days so I would be moored up for several days. I had a goal area but wasn’t sure we could get that far. Our first lock of the day looked like it might be a bad omen for how our day would go. Someone was moored on the end of an already awkward landing and to wedge myself into the space the front end went into the domain of a tree branch and we lost our new broom/mop Attached to a hose for cleaning the outside of the boat) that we had never gotten time to use.
The lost item didn’t distract us long because we were to share the lock with a lady backing her boat up into the lock so she could get water just on the other side. I am not horrible at backing (I do hate it though) but this lady was superb! She backed out of her permanant mooring on the siding, straightened out, and backed about 100m down the canal dead straight. She is my role model for helming now!
Out we scarpered and off to the next lock and on and on. Seven locks is all there was on this day but it was about 9 miles. There were many fishing and nature reserve lakes along the way. You would never have imagined it was within the London Ring road of the M25. We did Denham Deep lock which is 11ft 1in and the deepest on the Grand Union. I only mention it as everyone seems to find that important. I am not a fan of the deeper locks myself. Personally, I was more interested in the lakes on either side of the canal. HS2 messes with it at one point which is disappointing but the reserve is wonderful nonetheless.
We made very good time and reached the south side of Rickmansworth around 1pm. This was in fact my goal for the day and a lovely little spot next to the Aquadrome which is a wooded areas surrounded more lakes. Another shop was within walking distance and we could cheekily use the carpark at the Aquadrome as long as we didn’t want the car between 9pm and 8am. Worked fine for us.
To celebrate having a few days off from cruising and to cool down a bit we went to the shop and got ourselves a pack of ice creams at the nearby Tesco. One would almost think this is a sponsered post for Tesco but it is not….they just tend to be near canals/rivers often and when they are on them they tend to provide dedicated shopping moorings so they stand out.