Sunday, 1 August 2010

Widewater near (Harefield) to Boxmoor

(Posted by Alan)

Widewater near (Harefield) to Boxmoor

Apologies to those who have told us repeatedly that they are waiting to see if we made it home!

We did, of course, but immediately embarked on our project to try and give Chalice a DIY repaint.

Now any amateur that has ever tried it will tell you this is not a job for the faint hearted - that roof that doesn't look too big normally, for example, suddenly appears a lot larger if you are trying to take it back to bare metal, or to apply many layers of new paint to it.

So we have been busy, and the blog went on stall, but I'm now finally going to attempt to record those last two days.

In fact, the wet dock booking made us decide to try and get back from Widewater, (near Denham) in just two days, to allow us a clear day for getting at least a bit reorganised at home, before boat painting completely took over our lives. This is not a massively hard target, but we were both very tired, and we knew it would take a bit of effort.

Above Widewater lock is usually a good tie-up, and this time was no different, so I have no real excuse that I woke early. However it was a good opportunity to take Charlie for an early morning walk, which I did trying not to disturb the other people on board, (a challenge!).

Leaving Widewater on another fabulous day

A strange feature of this part of the trip was that although the canal had become quite busy, we still ended up sharing very few locks, or indeed even finding very many in our favour, necessitating someone regularly being ahead with the bike to set them up, if progress was to be maintained.

However at Lot Mead, just north of Rickmansworth, the resident of the lock-side cottage approached me, and said there was a problem with the top gates, and despite multiple attempts to shut them or dislodge obstructing matter, they could not be closed. I was just thinking "what chance of getting BW out quickly on a Sunday of a Bank Holiday weekend.", when A BW guy appeared. I'm not sure if he was actually working, or just doing a good turn, but miracle of miracles, he knew where to find a keb. Now a keb is a long shafted rake, with end like a digging fork with it's tines bent through 90 degrees, and exactly what you need, but finding one near a GU lock these days is nearly unheard of. So when out man fished around expertly, we were mightily relieved when he pulled out the obstruction. It was one of the shaped metal caps used to top off the mitred posts of the gate, but curiously it didn't belong to the current gates, as both theirs were still present. Good old BW man - our chances of getting back on schedule suddenly recovered!

Approaching the pair of locks at Cassiobury

It is unusual this far down the Grand Union to find many low pounds, because much of it has rivers flowing in and out, and water is usually plentiful even when rainfall has been unusually low. However we did realise we were seeing quite a few pounds where levels were down from usual. Fortunately Chalice has a shallow draught, and is little affected by small water shortages on a canal like the Grand Union.

Using British Waterway's property as a waiting point to avoid the shallows in a low pound at Nash Mills

The schedule we were trying to stick to actually required that we got beyond Boxmoor, but there are opportunities to moor there that are rather quieter and less affected by road and rail traffic noises, so we decided enough was enough. We had done 23 locks, but stopping a bit early left us 27 to do on the final push.

Widewater (near Harefield) to Boxmoor
Miles: 14.0, Locks: 23

Total Miles: 167.6, Total Locks: 162

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