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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

We struck gold!!!

Gosh, the 3-mile pound dropped even more overnight.  The sole plate grating every time FS and we just knew we were too near the bottom. Best slacken the ropes before the levels dropped even more and push FS out just in case she decided to settle on the silt and refuse to move.

Time to set off but not before a quick goodbye to Sue and Martin on Braggabout.  Did I say quick? Hmmm, an hour later and we did finally release ropes and head off for Linslade. First, ascend Leighton lock where a single hander and very elderly gentleman was trying to get back onto his boat. Very impressed that he managed to close the gates judging the frailty of the man and I did fear that he might miss his footing getting back on board. Wish we had arrived earlier to give him a hand. Hats off to him for still continuing this way of life as it could not have been easy.

Waiting at Leighton lock
Top of the locks and passing the Wyvern hire fleet where those boats were lying three abreast. I think as a rough guestimate it appeared that company had over 25 boats all ready to go out. With so many boats all breasted the width of the canal was considerably reduced and it was a good job nothing came towards us.

Stopped at Tesco and had just got moored when we spied a familiar figure. Del from Derwent6 who imparted some worrying news. As they ascended Leighton lock a C&RT guy happened to be letting water down to try and bring water levels up in the three-mile pound. A phone call from the volunteers at Soulbury Three made him stop rather rapidly. Problems with the top lock gates leaking and all he was doing was flushing water away. No wonder we were nearly sitting on the bottom!

Another two well-known faces seen in the distance and a very welcome sight. Coming toward us with the breasted pair, motor Towcester and butty Bideford. It was Jules and Richard on the fuel boats. We needed diesel and with the nights getting colder, coal as well. Pulling alongside we took on 80 litres at 71p litre. 4 bags of Stove glow at £9.25. And how annoying that prices rose after the 1st October and we could kick ourselves as we should have got coal sooner!  Del also walked down for a replacement gas bottle. Looked like a good place to ply their trade!

Jules, Richard and Dell
Jules wanted to stop to shop and tried to pull into the space behind FS but only the bow made it to the bank. The stern got as far as a submerged shopping trolly and stuck out quite a way into the channel. There was just enough space for a narrowboat to get past, although if a wide beam had turned up...forget it.

Leaving Tesco and, on the way back to FS, met Al (Dels better half) and had a good natter on the merits of returning to Oz. Finally said our goodbyes as they head South and we go North. Set off to use the facilities (loo only) so dropped Ian off at the bridge while I winded FS. Then it was back toward Leighton lock, descend, go past the Globe and finally toward the Soulbury Three. The reduced water levels could clearly be seen so goodness knows how long that C&RT guy had those paddles up this morning!. Even 6 feet away from the edge and FS found the mud.

Wasnt sure what to expect at the top lock but found that everything seemed okay. I pulled the paddles to fill the lock and coming toward me was a lady volunteer. Lovely to have help and I did ask about the gate problem. It was all to do with that dredger stirring up all the cr*p from the bottom which had made it's way down and got wedged in the gates causing them to leak. Two hours it took for C&RT to clear the debris under the gates just to get them to close but fingers crossed, it seems to be all good at the moment. So all the locks were set for us by two more of the volunteers and in no time we were back on track and on our way.

Dredging finished on this section and the spoil spread over the fields

All this sorted out by a grader. Understandably some would make it toward the lock.

This pound was low but at least the middle lock gates were open.

And the volunteers
We found some gold! What Sue (No ProblemXL) called it in 2014  and consists of fallen branches and wood piles left on the towpath or found in hedge bottoms. Not a massive amount collected but enough for Ian to get the chainsaw out and cut into manageable lengths. Still a bit green so will only use if absolutely necessary. Best left a year to season.

Another lovely rural mooring.

And wildlife,



Very unusual this time of year to have two Herons.

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