Flore, Stoke Bruerne and Yardley Gobion

We are now at home following our extended northern trip but I had better complete our log of the last days of our epic trip.

On Friday (June 8th) we left Braunston in rain and high winds. It rained most of the day. We got to the bottom lock on the Braunston flight just as the locks were being unlocked - the overnight closures for water conservation are still in place despite the rain and the generous amounts of water in the cut. We managed to share locks going up the flight with an unnamed boat (aren't there lots around). The towpath was like a quagmire; I dropped our lines in the water just to wash them.

Muddy towpath

At the top lock two impatient boats had come into the top pound whilst two boats were in the pound waiting to go down. They managed to clog up the pound and make things tricky for everybody. We managed to persuade two boats waiting at the top lock not to repeat the same mistake.

Six boats in a small pound!

The trip through Braunston tunnel was eventful with about (we lost count) eight boats coming through in the other direction and several unable to keep into the side. Although there was no real damage to Albert we came into contact with two boats - the bows of both swung out just as we passed. We came across an interesting tunnel light installation. I have posted about tunnel lights, and the difficulties that some lights pose for boats coming the other way, but this installation was in another class. As the boat approached in the dark it appeared to have a dim light that was shrouded in some way. It was almost as though the boat had an old ineffective oil lamp. It turned out to be nothing of the kind. The boat had obviously had a conventional tunnel light fitted to the front of the cabin. However, a glass fronted cratch and cover had been fitted and the light was still mounted inside the cratch cover. The owners obviously expected the light to shine through the cratch and illuminate their way. It was certainly failing to do this. I turned around after we had passed the boat and I could see no light shining forward at all!

The rain eased a little as we left the tunnel but the wind increased. At Norton Junction we joined up with another boat going down the Buckby flight but they stopped after the first lock and we then teamed up with NB Robin who used to moor at Kingfisher Marina. They were good company and very helpful because we could set the locks ahead. We stopped at the bottom lock for lunch.

The rest of the day's trip was routine and more pleasant because the wind finally reduced and it was dry. We moored up for the night at Flore Wharf just south of Weedon at one of our favourite local mooring spots.

On Saturday we had a relatively late start in the morning and moved on towards Blisworth. There were not many boats moving or moored up. It was more quiet than usual and the weather was good. The trip through Blisworth Tunnel was fine with only one boat (who knew how to control a boat in a tunnel) coming the other way. When we got to the other end (southern portal) we were greeted by the crowds at the Stoke Bruerne Gala Weekend. Lots of people, plenty of trade boats and a reasonable number of working boats.

Stoke Bruerne Gala Weekend

The only working boat moving - motor Sickle
(winding in the long pound) 

This year's pirate ship - flimsy compared to last year's boat, George

Lots of water going over the lock gates, Stoke Bruerne

We moored up in the long pound and enjoyed the gala so much we stayed for the afternoon. Usually at such boat gatherings working boats are on the move. Unfortunately not in this case - water restrictions stopped unnecessary movements. We finally decided that we should move on at about 4:30. It was just then that we realised that the locks were locked-up for the night because of the water restrictions and we couldn't get back to Yardley that night. We stayed for the evening hog roast chatting to friends and then went home via car to spend our first night ashore for a month.

Emily & Andy taking Albert through Stoke Bruerne Locks

On the Sunday our daughter Emily and son-in-law Andy helped us move Albert home to Kingfisher Marina. The weather was even better than Saturday - bright sunshine. Crowds were thronging the bank at Stoke Bruerne. There were probably more than usual because the weekend's Northampton Carnival was cancelled because of fears about the weather. The decision by the Friends of the Canal Museum to carry on with their event despite the bad weather on Thursday & Friday appeared to have paid off.