Norton Junction and Nether Heyford

On Saturday we left Hillmorton for Braunston. The weather was windy and cold but it wasn't raining. We stopped off at Midland Chandlers to pick up some bits and pieces, notably a gate valve so I could balance the hot and cold feeds to the shower mixer valve. We moored up alongside a friendly crew who were consulting the staff over "leisure" batteries - sounded like it could be expensive.

We moved slowly to Braunston Bottom Lock hoping to meet another crew to pair up with but were disappointed. There were crews coming down the flight in pairs but none going in our direction. The waiting area by the bottom lock was as usual busy with Union Canal Carriers hire fleet waiting to go out.

Braunston Bottom Lock

The Admiral Nelson

As we made the Top Lock a crew appeared behind us but by then it was too late to pair up. We headed for the tunnel and found it completely clear all the way through. We had a very rapid transit and then reached Norton Junction around 2:30 PM. We dropped down the one lock and called it a day. As Maggie went to visit Anchor Cottage to purchase a watering can for the garden, I fitted the gate valve on the shower cold feed. It turned out to be one of those rare jobs that was completely straight forward and also successful.

That evening we ate at The New Inn (Fish & Chips) and then took a stroll up to the junction as the sun went down. The weather had improved.

Norton Junction

As we stood on the bridge by the tollkeepers cottage we realised that all the years we have passed this way this was the first time that we stood on the bridge looking over the Grand Union.

The next day the plan was to pick up our grandson Hugh at Weedon and for him to have a sleepover on the boat before we returned to Yardley. Gobion.

We left fairly promptly (for us) and teamed up with Wild Marigold a hire boat from Calcutt. They had a helpful crew and we made good progress down the locks. The weather was showery and blustery.

This season's ducklings at Long Buckby

Replica tug at Dodford Wharf

Just after Dodford we began to realise that since we had been away there had been significant progress with the construction of the bridge over the canal for the Flore Bypass. A new concrete span was in place across the canal and a colossal crane was on site. An furtherspan across the canal and two others across the railway appear to be needed.

Modest crane for lifting narrow boats and colossal crane for constructing bridges

Crane for constructing the Flore Bypass Bridge

In the afternoon Hugh joined us for a trip down to Nether Heyford where we moored up for the night close to Heyford Fields Marina. On the way we picked up water by Stowe Hill and Hugh made friends with another five-year old boy called Max - they played in the woods together.
A happy Hugh boating

Our neighbours for the night were Moriarty. When the boat belonged to Bob & Lyn Doyle we spent some happy days together on the River Nene in 2006

Hugh ready for sleep in the back cabin

On Sunday morning we headed south towards Stoke Bruerne to meet up with the family for lunch and take Albert down the flight to our home moorings. The tunnel was very wet with sheets of water descending to canal level in several places and not just by air shafts.

Blisworth Tunnel Northern Portal

The moorings at Stoke were very quiet and we could select where we wanted to tie up. We had lunch at The Boat Inn and then went down the Stoke Flight with NB Hera who were planning to stop overnight at The Navigation at Cosgrove. We finally got to Kingfisher Marina at around 4:30 PM and then had the task of picking up cars and unloading the boat - never as much fun as packing up - none of the anticipation.