Start 8:30, finish 7:15pm
GU, River Nene
19 miles, 29 locks
A gentle start this morning, with a lock free cruise to Gayton Junction, where we turned on to the Northampton Arm. It took us 3.5 hours to get from top to bottom, and it was a relatively easy run – although all the locks were against us, there was plenty of water in all the pounds, and we had the help of a “hobbler” – someone who helps work locks for money. An enthusiastic lock-worker, he told us he walked 3 hours from Weston Favell (the other side of Northampton) and although unemployed spends his days helping people up and down the locks, earning tips from boaters. Alas we didn’t have any cash on board but we gave him one of our windlasses as he’d lost his. The cut was shallow and weedy as we expected but not as bad as it is in the summer, and we didn’t pick up anything too nasty on the blades.
Back on the Nene, we felt like we were on the home stretch. Still a long way to go but we know the Nene, this will be our fourth time descending the river. A few things have changed – notably the pontoon providing access to the service point in Northampton seems to have disappeared. Annoying, as we’d hoped to get rid of our rubbish there, having not been able to do so at Gayton either as there’s no rubbish disposal there anymore either!
We’d planned to get just beyond Northampton, as we’d expected it to take ages to do the flight, but it was onlt 2:30 as we passed through the Washlands. Below Billing Lock, we had been very kindly warned by blog reader Alan about the presence of a nasty shoal most of the way across the river, just where a little stream joins the river. He said that if you keep well to the left (going downstream) and use the mouth of the stream to get round you should be fine. And we were. We’d hoped to moor just above Cogenhoe Lock, but now we see that along the stretch which used to be unofficial moorings, there are big signs banning all mooring. This left us with a problem as we did not want to stop in Wellingborough – it’s far far too noisy opposite the the factory there, but there is nowhere to stop between Cogenhoe and Wellingborough, and it is hard going, with all the twists and turns. Normally we start early at the top of Gayton and make it to Rushden and Diamonds, but not today. So we have decided to stop on a lock landing pontoon just below Wollaston Lock, and have set an alarm to be off first thing tomorrow. Not ideal, but there really isn’t anywhere else. With a boat this deep, we can’t just moor on a bit of bank with a plank.