Winkwell to Uxbridge – we finally made it!
Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th April
Zulu is home!
On 18th December, the day the Trent and Mersey reopened at Middlewich, we set off from Middlewich on a three week trip to our new moorings at Uxbridge. Almost 4 months later we have finally arrived thanks to ice and stoppages along the way but it has been a great winter cruise.
So the final leg of the trip was from Winkwell, through Hemel Hempstead where a “charming” boater told me that single handed boaters were the scourge of the canals, then tried to engage me in conversation about how he detested London as it had become a foreign city, staffed by foreigners to serve foreigners. Fortunately he was heading in the other direction and he cheerfully told me to stay onboard and worked me through the lock – I thought I might as well live up to his expectations so did just that!
All around the canalside in Hemel were plastic A4 sheets tied on with cable ties – remnants of an “Easter Egg” hunt and still flapping from trees, bushes, lock gates, buildings. Many had obviously been placed there by boat due to their location. I do hope the organisers are going to make sure that every single one is removed along with the cable ties as right now this looks a dreadful eyesore after only three days.
Once out of Hemel I love this stretch of canal as it drops down lock after lock into the wonderful surroundings towards Cassiobury Park where the dogs had a fantastic run with at least six others. Cassiobury lock is one of the slowest I know, and one of the busiest for onlookers. We certainly gave them something to watch as I met up with a boat already in the lock, despairing that they had picked up their rope on the propellor and after an hour still hadn’t managed to free it, or to find anyone who could do it for them.
So always up for a challenge when it comes to getting rubbish of props, I was delighted to be able to get them moving again within 15 minutes. Plenty of practice I guess!
I travelled with them as far as Rickmansworth, stopping briefly to reminisce at the old moorings where exactly two years ago, on 7th April 2008, I picked up Zulu from her long term home on Batchworth Farm moorings. I moored opposite Tesco, exactly where I stopped two years ago and took a walk into town for something to eat.
At Wetherspoons Tuesday night is Steak Night, offering exceptional value – just the job after a hard day’s boating and I look forward to Wetherspoons April Beer Festival taking place for the next couple of weeks.
Back to the boat for the night, and an early start with the dogs next morning led us down the final stretch towards Uxbridge. For many years Black Jacks Mill has been empty so it is nice to see it all restored as an up-market bed and breakfast.
Continuing to drop down the locks, I got badly caught out at Coppermill lock where a fierce side stream enters the canal opposite the Fishery Inn Coy Carp. Its not like I didn’t prepare for it and steered right up into the current but I was taken by surprise by the strength of it and poor old Zulu’s engine was no match, so with an almighty bang we hit the concrete coping sideways on, but no damage was done – nothing even fell off the shelves so it probably felt worse than it was, but next time I will crawl along the towpath side if the river is flowing like it is today!
From there it isn’t far to Harefield and the long stretch down to Denham Deep Lock with its charming tea garden and lovely walks through Denham Country Park. This is our new home territory - a short walk from Uxbridge – and before long we were passing our new moorings and dropping down Uxbridge Lock for a quick service stop at Denham Yacht Station and a night at the Swan and Bottle.
Next morning we finally made it up back up Uxbridge Lock and onto our new mooring.
The trip from Middlewich has been 208 miles and 219 locks. I think Zulu probably needs a well deserved rest, for now!