Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Rain and wind … a walk in the park!

We enjoyed the weekend at Cassiobury and of course we found time between the showers to go for a walk round the park ...

Ornamental trees … I mean ornaments in the trees on the towpath
The Beech trees are coming into bud
… and the trees look as magnificent as ever!
Busy cleaning up the children’s water play area, perhaps they’re hoping for some warm weather this Easter!
A beautiful sunrise on Monday at 6:30, it’s another early start for us
A good example of bad mooring! Although to be honest I think his front pin has came adrift and perhaps some kind walker has done the best they could in the circumstances and fastened his middle rope to the seat.  His rear pin was intact but there was no one onboard as we passed.
Some historic boats seen today ...
            Rigal            Elstree            Asterope

                   Coronis          Cantley (not registered)          Indus

… and some unusual boats.  “Dunravin!’ They must be feeling their age!

It’s a lovely area around Lot Mead Lock ...
and busy with moored boats on the way to Coppermill Lock
… where the wharf buildings are being transformed into a very pretty terrace of houses
… and the slalom course made our cruise past just a bit hairy!
We moored up for the night just past The Coy Carp pub.

This morning we really were not looking forward to our cruising but needs must.  The forecast is gusting wind up to 49 mph and the chance of some fairly vicious though brief showers.  Fortunately  we are travelling south and the wind is WNW which means it'll blow roughly against our right shoulder and not broadside!
Leaving our mooring at half seven
 … and the hedgerows are keeping the worst of the wind away
 Just two locks today … Black Jack's
 … where the crocodile still lurks and where just after we saw ...
 these goslings and ducklings, what a lovely sight that was!
Second and last lock at Widewater, our destination is just below here
 Molly’s been quite happy sheltered from the wind on top of the gas locker today.
 The view from the bow at our mooring in Harefield Marina.
Even though the wind is blowing a real hooley the temperature on the roof is nearly 24 degrees C!

Off on our hols tomorrow!

Is this a first?

Not one but two families ...

7 Egyptian Goslings

… and 9 Mallard ducklings seen today!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

An early start ...

… well, it was supposed to be but the shower shelf broke so I popped over to Homebase to purchase a new one before we finally set off just before 9.

I thought that 1874 was about the oldest coping stone I’d seen but a couple of locks later I saw one dated 1842 - amazing!
Passing The Paper Mill public house and Frogmore Paper Mill which is the worlds oldest mechanised paper mill. 
'At the end of the 16th century, the poor state of the roads made land transport slow, unreliable and expensive and, in the case of bulky goods such as coal, near impossible. The building of the canals solved the problem bringing great benefit to commerce.
canal_boat_001Loading a canal boat
canal_boat_002Canal boats in the mill

It was the diversion of the Grand Junction Canal at Apsley in 1818 from its original route to follow the course of the Gade by Apsley and Nash Mills which gave John Dickinson direct access to the canal network. All the Dickinson mills were connected by canal to the Dickinson depot at Paddington (later Kings Cross). From there deliveries were made to the London area.
The boats took finished goods to London and brought back raw materials such as waste paper and rags. Other raw materials such as esparto grass, woodpulp, chemicals and china clay were also used in vast quantities. Once steam engines were in use in the mills, coal came in by canal. During the period 1904-1928, the average annual amount of coal delivered was 38,540 tons. The last deliveries of coal were made between 1960 and 1970 as the mills switched to oil.
It is not clear who manned the boats in the early days but Dickinsons did own some boats such as Lord Nelson and Hero of the Nile (registered 1870 and 1891). However, in 1890 Fellows, Morton and Clayton Ltd. contracted to operate the Dickinson intermill service. In 1897 they had replaced horse-drawn boats with “steamers” – Countess and Princess together with two “butties” – Maud and May, followed in 1910 with replacement “butties” – Alice and Kate. In 1927 motor boats – Jackal and Jaguar replaced the steamers and new butties – Helen and Hettie came into service in 1930.' [taken from the official website]
' "Rags make paper, paper makes money, money makes banks, banks make loans, loans make beggars, beggars make rags. - Anon. English 19th C. '

A modern equivalent of a turnover bridge taking the towpath from one side of the canal to the other.
  The bridge is held in place by these stanchions situated on either side close to the ends of the bridge.

Apsley Marina

A tight fit!

 The Willow trees are looking magnificent as we approach Nash Mills
 It seems to be taking a long time to get these apartments finished
(an interesting article here)
What looks like two old working boats Bodmin and Banstead but the buttyboat Bodmin is apparently a recently built Reeves shell

 Another sign that spring has definitely sprung!
Work going on under what I think is the M40 25[thanks Adam] motorway, scary or what?  I know where I’d rather be, and it’s not up there!
 North Grove Lock and there must be a boat in front of us somewhere leaving the bottom gates open as they leave the locks - a bit of a nuisance!
We stopped to eat lunch at Hunton Bridge and decided to carry on as the day was warm and there was no wind at all, not like the forecast for the weekend! Brand new top gates at Hunton Bridge top lock look very smart, it’s good to see the design in such clear detail.

The pretty Grove Bridge at what looks like an impossible angle and the unusual rope guard which, in time gone by, prevented the towing ropes from damaging the bridge walls
That’s bridge 163 seen from inside Lady Capel’s Lock, it's a turnover bridge and as you can see it’s set at a 90-degree angle to me!
Some beautifully positioned properties in this area

Approaching that bridge
… I’ve never noticed this metal support under the bridge before.
… and looking back
The Grove Bridge commissioned by the Earl of Clarendon when the canal was built.
It worries me a little passing the golf course when players are close to the water
And we have to have a picture of the Grove Mill buildings
Dramatic against the sky!
15:15 and we’re moored up at Cassiobury
It’s been another great cruising day, much longer than we’ve been used to lately.  We’ve done 6 miles and 11 locks.