Up the Flight and a Feathered Friend

The flight in question is the Rothersthorpe Flight on the Northampton Arm. On, Friday we tackled the seventeen locks that join the River Nene to the main line of the Grand Union. We continued our journey bring back Albert to its home base at Yardley Gobion. The weather was kind with mostly sunny periods and clear skies and with only a few clouds obscuring the sun, more of which later. It was also calm which always makes tackling locks that little bit easier.

We left Northampton Marina around 9:30 and headed under South Bridge to the first of the CRT locks. Looking back large cranes were at work on the new University of Northampton Waterside campus. Maggie is fascinated by tall cranes and how the operators climb their enormous towers to "go to work".

Reedy section on the Northampton Arm

The first section of the arm, as you leave Northampton, is a bit industrial but you soon move into a wider valley of with urban fringe. Some sections of the canal above Lock 2 are reedy and two boats would have difficulty passing but its no more difficult to navigate than, say, the Aylesbury Arm and the reed makes a the it feel more rural, Around Lock 3 we saw NB Kala depart from must have been their overnight mooring. We followed them up the flight for the rest of the morning - about two locks behind.

Around Upton Mill it became a little cloudy and we were treated to one of my favourite meteorological phenomena - a sun dog. I have reported on them before so I won't go into great detail but they are rainbow-like phenomena. At one time this sun dog was actually brighter than the sun which was obscured by a particularly black cloud.

Sun dog (centre) and sun (right) near Upton Mill, Northampton

Lift bridge and Lock 13 Gates, Northampton Arm

Just after Lock 13 you pass under the M1 in a cavern. There are many places on the canal network where canals are crossed by motorways, under Spaghetti Junction on the M6 for example, but none are quite like this. It can be gloomy place in dull weather but in bright sunlight it is less intimidating.

Under the M1

We then got into "the thick" and climbed out of the valley towards Gayton Junction. 

Albert's fore-deck getting a good wash in a lock with leaky gates

We managed well with no problem until around Lock 7 when we found a low pound. However, this apart from from some bottom gates that refused to stay closed this was our only problem. We got to the top lock in time for a late lunch (2:30). 

Being the first week-end of school half term we found a number of hire-boat crews being instructed by Alvechurch staff before taking over their boats. After a clear run through the tunnel we found Stoke Bruerne reasonably quite but it soon filled up with hire-boats, It looks like they will get good weather for their holidays.

We are used to ducks begging for food around the boat, an occasionally they visit on the bank-side, but unusually when we looked out of our galley window we found a very friendly moorhen on the towpath looking right in to our cabin. 

Our visitor at Stoke Bruerne 

We of course fed him and Maggie found out that he would eat from your hand! The next morning he turned up again, this time on the water, and with some friends. I fed him some oats (porridge for breakfast) from my hand. We often feed ducks, and occasionally swans, from our hands but this was our first for a moorhen.

Our friendly moorhen on the water