Monday, 12 October 2015

Another arm

We woke to yet one more beautiful autumn morning.


But we stayed in bed longer than we should have done – it was 11˚C in the cabin and I let the diesel central heating warm us up a bit before we emerged.


We started on our journey with only a vague idea of where we would get to. First up was the tunnel at Husbands Bosworth.


Two boats were coming through, and we decided to wait for them to exit, though there would have been room to pass. I discovered that it's nigh on impossible to get near the wall leading up to the entrance where I thought we might hold Erin Mae, because there is so much obstruction just under the surface. Fortunately it was easy enough just to hold her in position on engine and tiller.


After the tunnel we had another look at the map and decided it would be a shame to pass the Welford arm without a visit – at the very least it would be a box ticked. So when we came to the junction we turned left up what seemed very much of a backwater.


It was a delightful meandering cruise, with the sun shining through the trees…


and punctuated by very little except a single lock in a very scenic setting.


None of this prepared us for what we found at the end of the cut. First a marina, with a winding hole opposite its entrance, then a couple of hundred yards with some permanent moorings both sides, and finally a boatyard at the terminus, and a lot more boats moored on jetties.


It was all quite a surprise to find so many boats at the end of this arm. At the winding hole the available moorings were under trees, but we could see sunshine on boats further down. We decided to go on down and see whether there was somewhere to tie up. Nicholson's guide doesn't show a place to wind at the end, so I was faced with the prospect of going down and then having to reverse out – very tricky in a canal this shallow. I decided to wind first and reverse down to the terminus, so that if reversing really was impossible I would find out quickly and be able to simply come out again. Actually it all went rather well, even though another boat needed to pass us on its way out. Down at the terminus there was indeed a good visitor mooring and, at the boatyard, a place where we could probably have winded, though it looks a bit tight.

We hadn't known what we'd find at Welford, but it's a very pleasant spot. We went for a walk into the village, and then out across the fields on a path called "The Jurassic Way". That was a bit tame for a couple who live (during the winter) near the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, but it was very enjoyable and we made our way round to the reservoir which, presumably, feeds the Grand Union via this arm. Coincidentally, we'd had a CRT alert email this morning that the reservoir is suffering from an algal bloom, but we had no intention of getting anywhere near the water. In fact, to do so we'd have had to walk a long way since it looked about 20 feet or more lower than its maximum level.

So – yet another surprise on this adventure. And the nice chap who helped to pull us in and then chatted for a while said that the next section, back along the arm and down to Crick, is absolutely wonderful and must not be hurried. We'll try to follow his advice, though the clock is ticking for us to get back to Great Haywood by the end of the month.

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