We have cruised the College “Backs” several times in Lucky Duck, but today was our first trip on Willow. We weren’t sure how easily we’d be able to wind the boat at the Mill Pond – we knew there was the width but we weren’t sure about depth. So be picked New Year’s Day as we thought there would be fewer punts out than usual, and because we thought it would be a good way to begin the year!
We spent New Year’s Eve moored up near Jesus lock with a few other boats, and went to a party on board Genius Loki, which was a lot of fun. Just before midnight we went for a little cruise, continuing a tradition of a seeing in the new year afloat.
In the morning, we wanted to set off relatively early as the weather was supposed to become really nasty after about 12pm. So, at about 10, we set off through Jesus Lock and off down the Backs, in convoy with another narrowboat, Charity. There were very few punts out, thankfully, and although there was a bit of rain, the weather wasn’t too bad, and there wasn’t a lot of wind. Once safely through the bridges, we arrived at the Mill Pond, the head of navigation. There are a lot of empty punts moored up there, but James was able to turn around, by running the fore end aground in the shallows and using the engine to push the back end round. It took a while but he managed it without bashing into any punts!
At the Mill Pond, a friend caught up with us and took some great photos, which was good because it’s hard to get photos of your boat on the Backs as there’s no where really to set someone off with a camera.
All in all a successful trip, which we will repeat before the winter is out. And if we can do it in a full length, 3ft deep boat, pretty much any narrow boat should be able to as well!
If you’d like to do it in your boat, there’s a guide here with all the necessary information.