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Berkhamsted to London, spring 2001

tame heron
Herons in central London are almost tame

A 1-week trip from Bridgewater Boats at Berkhamsted into London via the Grand Union Canal and the Regents Canal. Total 81 miles and 74 locks.

Diary extracts:

Sat 2001-05-12
Drive to Berkhamsted, arr 14h20. Boatyard very quiet, senior man in electric cart or on a crutch and a young boy doing the work. Boat is Growltiger, 50ft, BMC engined. Heating by gas, including hot water. Turned by owner and away at 14h45. Didn't follow us to first lock, as we appeared to know what we're doing. Then one of us fell into canal after the second lock, trying to jump on, rope not having been passed. Didn't go under and boat didn't crush. Very hot and sunny. Moor just before the swingbridge at 16h30. To the Three Horseshoes before dinner. Eve on boat, with more ethanol and pizza. Lots of people out on the towpath in summer clothes. Today 7l, 0sb, 1h45m, 2.25mi. Eve back to the Three Horseshoes for a few more.
Sun 2001-05-13
Bed made up in dining area has separate cushions that slide apart, awoke at one point lying on the wood. Other defects of this boat: only 1 loo, so will need pump-out, awkward on this route; hot water is from central heating only, so takes extra gas and wastes engine heat. Start 08h30. Morning mostly sunny and hot, mid-aft a thunderstorm with torrential rain, rest of aft and eve pleasantly mild without direct sun. Lunch 12h40..13h50 after br 162 for the King's Head, Hunton Bridge. Eat here. Didn't have second round as busy and service was slow. Stop for eve after br 177; to Coy Carp, which is what the Fisheries Inn has recently become. Eat on boat. Eve moor at 19h00. Today 13.75mi, 25l, 1sb, 9h20m. So far 16mi, 32l, 1sb, 11h5m. At Watford lock lots of gongoozlers; two small boys jumped into the canal from the bridge, just in front of the moving boat. Otherwise, so far a peaceful trip. Few other boats and I think we may have seen one other hire boat. One boat we passed coming out of London reported very poor business on tourist things, like the waterbuses. Water lock 68.
Mon 2001-05-14
Start 09h00, through the last 5 locks. Lunch at the Paddington Packet Boat 12h10..13h30. Aft moor briefly at Sainsbury's, between brs 11 and 12 on the Paddington Arm, 17h15..18h10, then on to moor for the night right against the railings opposite the Grand Junction Arms, at br 9. We had tried the Pleasure Boat at br 11, but a bit rough, and not a nice area, so we decided to go on. Eve to the Grand Junction Arms, Youngs, better, though a juke box was too loud at times. Today 5l, 7h35m, 18.5mi. Total 18h40, 34.5mi, 37l, 1sb. Can do 4mi/h (by GPS) in the broad, clear sections of the Paddington Arm. Compared with the approaches to Birmingham and Manchester, London seems not too bad. Sitting here tonight, we the only boat on the towpath side, 4 or 5 boats on the off side by the pub, with their engines running to power their lights and TVs. Very few other moving boats, but at Bulls Bridge J a sudden flurry of boats getting in the way, one being moved by punting with a long boat pole about 100m along the canal past the junction. Dull all day, but not cold. Crossed the new north circular aqueduct, over stationary traffic; it has two separate 14ft channels with a large central island. Pleasure Boat pub sounded good in Nicholsons, but very much a locals' pub. Despite area being predominantly asian and black, the pub's clientelle was nevertheless almost completely white, as was the eve pub. Water lock 89.
Tue 2001-05-15
Dull start, then hot and sunny. Short walk into Harlesden for a paper, then away, me driving while the others finished breakfast, at 08h30. The batteries not charging, but a quick call to the boatyard suggests the cure, rev the engine right up to force the charging cct to switch. Water 15 min at Little Venice, then moor at Camden just beyond Cumberland basin at 10h55. Then we split up, some going shopping, others pottering around locally, reading. Waterbus passengers in single figures, but still a few tourists walking along the towpath here. Eve to a Chinese restaurant built over, or floating on (not quite sure), the Cumberland basin, looking over the basin. Heron there the whole time, fishing from a jetty attached to a pontoon house opposite. Good meal, attentive service even to the extent of them making the Peking duck pancakes up for you, rolling with chopsticks. Today 0l, 5.5mi, 2h10m (+15min water stop at Little Venice). Total 37l, 40mi, 20h50m, 1sb.
Wed 2001-05-16
Rain during the night and the morning run. Start 09h, roping/driving back to the Cumberland basin and turning there. Water (5min) at Little Venice, stop at Black Horse br (br 15) at 12h50. Into the Black Horse (Fullers) for lunch and to warm up. Aft starting 14h10. Back into the land of proper herons, that fly off in front of you and are hard to photograph - in London they just sit on the bank and stare at you, too easy. Pump-out (25 mins) at Willowtree Marina, 12L. Moor outside and turn the boat in the width of the canal because they wouldn't do it on the water side. They said here to Berkhamsted was 3+1/2 days, though we'd clearly just done Berko to London in 2+1/2. On to moor at br 190 at 17h40. Aft alternate sunshine and heavy showers. Eve to the Paddington Packet Boat for a couple. Today 18.25mi, 0l, 0sb, 6h55m (+25m for pump-out). Total 58.25mi, 37l, 1sb, 27h45m. Pub eve mostly infested with football on TV and in the quiet area next to us a young pair having an emotional conversation.
Thu 2001-05-17
A day of rain, wind and cold. For a walk along the Slough arm, not being rained on, but by the start at 09h it's grey and raining steadily. Water, quick, at Cowley lock. Cowley Peachey junction is just a scruffy spot in the middle of rubbish tips and building sites. Rain didn't stop once before stop for lunch 12h30..13h30 north of Copper Mill lock, on board. After yesterday's rain, the canal is very high and the sections shared with the river are running very fast. This made the cross-flows at river stream entry points interesting, especially below Copper Mill lock. The boat needed lots of wellie to make progress upstream. Lots of bits of towpath are under water today and the tail of Batchworth lock was under water. Also at Batchworth, had to wait 5 mins for scaffolders to complete some sort of bridge over the lock with steps up each side. About mid-aft it dried up and the wind dropped, deciding us to go on to Hunton Bridge, rather than stop in Cassiobury park; then the rain came on again with a vengeance, but we still got to Hunton Bridge, at 18h50. Eve on boat. Boat has used oil, topped up today. Sitting here at 21h, boat opposite has just started a noisy little generator - or rather not a boat, but a shack on a pontoon. There are lots of these around here. Today 18l, 14mi, 0sb, 8h50m. Total 55l, 1sb, 72.25mi, 36m35m.
Fri 2001-05-18
Dull to start, later some sunshine, but not hot. Start 09h, stopping 13h for the Three Horseshoes at Winkwell, where eat. Restart 15h, to moor below lock 55 in Berkhamsted 16h30. Today 17l, 1sb, 8mi, 5h30m. So far 72l, 2sb, 80.25mi, 42h5m. Notable today how unfriendly many private boats crews are, and how incompetent. Eve to Crown in Berko, a Wetherspoons, to eat.
Sat 2001-05-19
Up at 7h, breakfast and packing, then off at 08h30 through the last 2 locks to the boatyard at 09h, just on time. Quickly off, no formalities. Today 2l, 0.25mi, 0sb, 30m; total 74l, 80.5mi, 2sb, 42h35m. Why were the private boaters on this trip so unfriendly (we didn't actually meet any other hirers)? Because that's the way the canals are getting, or because we're in the south, worse, in suburbia? This boat could have been a problem with only one loo, but in practice everyone was OK with the cabins all being open at night.
Day    Date    Hours   Miles   Locks    SB      morn    aft     Water
Sat    010512   1.75     2.25    7      1               N+C     
Sun    010513   9.33    13.75   25      -       C       R       Nash Mills
Mon    010514   7.58    18.5     5      -       K       S       Cowley Lock
Tue    010515   2.17     5.5     -      -       N       -       Little Venice
Wed    010516   6.92    18.25    -      -       C       R       Little Venice
Thu    010517   8.83    14      18      -       K       S       Cowley Lock
Fri    010518   5.50     8      17      1       C       C       -
Sat    010519   0.50     0.25    2      -       N         
Totals         42.58    80.5    74      2  

Day     Lunch                           Evening
Sat     -                               Winkwell, Three Horseshoes
Sun     Hunton Bridge, Kings Head       Copper Mill Lock, Coy Carp
Mon     Cowley, Paddington Pkt Boat     Harlesden, Grand Junction Arms
Tue     London, individually            London, Chinese meal
Wed     Greenford, Black Horse          Cowley, Paddington Packet Boat
Thu     Copper Mill lock, on boat       Hunton Bridge, on boat
Fri     Winkwell, Three Horseshoes      Berkhamsted, The Crown
Sat     -

©nib 2003-03-22..2003-03-22

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