Its been a beautiful sunny and warm day, just perfect for leaving the River Nene and coming back onto the canal system. Most of the day it was so warm that we were back in T-shirts.
Unfortunately we really noticed the difference between maintenance - or lack of it - by C&RT as against EA. For the past couple of months we've had immaculately maintained lock landings and lock gear but the locks in the Rothersthorpe flight at Northampton had very overgrown lock landings and graffiti painted lock beams.
The canal is very narrow in places with overgrown reeds and weeds
The first boat we came across was this sunken one.
The lock gear is well greased but the lock surrounds definitely need a bit of TLC as these weeds which have been dragged out of the water are rotting and extremely slippery.
This is the bridge under the M1 with its huge reinforcing beams. The roar of the traffic has been with us most of the way up the flight.
Its a bit surreal thinking that these locks were originally built this long ago. I suppose in the scheme of things they're still in pretty good condition.
We really enjoyed working up the flight of 17 narrow locks. They were much more interesting than the big automated ones we've been used to on the rivers. We did have a bit of help from a strange little guy called Leon who makes his living lock wheeling up and down the flight. He attached himself to us about half way up, on his way back up the flight after helping an older couple down. They'd passed us in one of the lock pounds but Leon wasn't a happy chappy. After helping them down 17 locks the boaters only paid him £2 plus a kit-kat. When he caught up to us he negotiated a fee of £5 to go on ahead and open all the bottom gates for us. He ran between every lock and was quite entertaining in his own way. Roger learnt his full personal history in the hour he was with us. He reckons he supplements his benefits by making money helping boaters but as he smoked a cigarette at every lock and was carrying a water bottle filled with alcohol he can't be making much profit overall. Two locks from the top of the flight we passed a plastic cruiser just starting down so Leon jumped ship , after being paid, and went to "help" them instead.
We filled with water and diesel at Gayton Marina and are now moored opposite. It's very noisy from the M1 but we're only stopping here for tonight and will carry on again tomorrow, hopefully to somewhere a little quieter for the weekend.