Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Totals, and Thoughts on the Grand Summer Cruise

So, in the 31 days we were out, we travelled 485 miles, and passed through 316 locks and eight tunnels. Only the route out of the Fens to Northampton was duplicated. And once we were on the canals, the very vast majority of the route was bits we'd not done before.

We averaged at 26 lock-miles per day, with a few very long days meaning that we could also do some very short days, although we did move some distance every day.

Not a single thing went wrong with the engine, the starter sequence, the drive chain or anything else. The oil leak meant that we were continually topping up and emptying the bilge, but it didn't stop us. Once, the lights all went out, because a fuse blew, but that was easily fixed as we have lots of spares.

We met a few bloggers, and readers, for which I was glad to have the boat's name painted visibly, although not as many as on our 2008 trip. I suspect this is mainly because we simply didn't need to ask for help like we did last time!

It was also wonderful to visit all the places we'd heard so much about, whose names conjure up evocative scenes of canal history: Tixall Wide, Penkridge, Atherstone, Sutton Stop, Foxton, Shardlow.

Favourite places included the new pontoon mooring at Wansford, next to the Nene Valley Railway, the city of Leicester, the wonderful Art Deco cinema at Loughborough, the pretty village of Shardlow, the vast spaces and almost classical columns under the M5 in Brum, the BCLM as a whole and the pie shop in Atherstone.

Personally I feel much more confident with boat handling than I did before we left. I am now quite happy to moor up on my own, take the boat into any type of lock, and generally feel like my steering has improved.

But despite the fact that we loved being out on the canals, we're glad to be back. Lots of things to look forwards to, including a weekend with my best friends from uni, James starting his new job, lots of rowing (including the Boston Marathon), and catching up with friends.

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