Narrowboat Tacet

Silent Movement - Our gap year travelling the inland waterways

Thursday, 30 May 2013

In the Arm-y


Tuesday morning dawned very differently to the lovely weekend weather we had enjoyed.

Back to boating with our waterproofs on, such a shame when we have two young crew members with us.  But they were not put off and we set off, leaving behind the main canal system, down the Rothersthorpe flight of 17 locks along the Northampton Arm into the centre of Northampton town.


Stretching up through the skyline is the ‘Northampton Lighthouse’. In reality it is the National Lift Tower, built by the Express Lift Company as a lift testing tower.

The structure wP1090300as commissioned in 1978 with construction commencing in 1980, and was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 12 November 1982.

Designed by architect Maurice Walton of Stimpson and Walton, the tower is 127.45 metres (418.1 feet) tall, 14.6 m (47.9 ft) in diameter at the base and tapers to 8.5 m (27.9 ft) at the top. The only lift testing tower in Britain, it was granted Grade II listed building status on 30 October 1997, at the time making it the youngest listed building in the UK.

In January 1997, the tower fell out of use after Express Lifts was taken over by Otis and subsequently closed. In 1999, the tower and surrounding land was sold to Wilcon Homes for development.

It is the only such tower in the UK, and one of only two in Europe.


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An aaahhh moment as we approached the town centre.  The girls were so excited to see this little family, so was I.  They stayed close for photos, but we had nothing to feed them with,we were armed only with windlasses ready to work the last lock.

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And so we arrived in Northampton, wet and weary, passing the Carlsberg brewery, and old warehouse building and tying up on the town moorings, convenient for Morrisons, and Beckett’s Park.  So now the larder is stocked up with the girls’ favourite foods, Jumble has been walked several times and the fire is lit, drying out jeans, socks and shoes!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A New Crew


We returned to Tacet bringing with us two of our nieces, for the half-term holiday. Lots of excitement, leaving behind the rest of the family and setting out on a boaty adventure.

The boatyness started earlier than expected. Just before we got to the Blackwall tunnel, we saw a message that the ‘northbound tunnel was closed – find an alternative route’.  We had just been talking about the various ways you can cross the Thames so we turned off towards Woolwich to try another of them, the Woolwich Ferry.


Only one was running so we had a bit of a wait, then were first in line for the next crossing.




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It’s a long way across to the other side, the girls were surprised how wide the river is here.  And the size of the boats moving up and down the river.  Tacet will seem small.



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At last it was our turn to drive on, up the ramp and to the front of the deck. The flag is flying at half-mast as a sign of respect for the young soldier who died on Wednesday in that terrible act of terrorism.

It’s much nicer crossing the Thames by Ferry than underneath it by Tunnel.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Bluebells, Beauty, Bridges

We have enjoyed a few days with family in Sussex.  I just had to go the Bluebell woods near to our old home where we played as children and have enjoyed the vivid blue and heavenly scent of the bluebells every year.  They are past their best just now, but the smell was still lovely and in the dappled sunshine through the mixed woodland canopy, the glorious colour glowed, I’m afraid my photos don’t do them justice.
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Jumble and Meg enjoyed the stream, chasing each other in a brief spurt of energy for two old dogs.
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It was lovely to be back in familiar beautiful surroundings, wandering the footpaths, across meadows to the woods.
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And then back along the Cuckoo Trail, the old southern railway line which ran from Eastbourne to Tunbridge Wells, and is now a well used trail with walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
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It could almost have been a canal, a tree-lined route with bridges, embankments, cuttings and cow parsley everywhere.  Lovely.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Going to Gayton





On the  way down the Buckby flight, I noticed this notice. Another old waterways sign, the duck has obviously decided Class B is not good enough for her family.




We paired up with nb Inca, and her new owners who recently become liveaboards and are enjoying themselves, although they admit to it being a steep learning curve!

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They soon managed to work together and go down the close locks two by two.




I love the fact that this old wooden bollard is still by the last lock at Whilton Marina.

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After the locks there is long pound through the villages of Weedon, the Heyfords and Bugbrooke. Here we saw nb Briar Rose, on the way to Crick, Adam recognisable by his hat! Only time for a cheery wave as we passed by each other.


Our aim was to get to Gayton and by the time we did arrive the sun was out, and though still cold, we enjoyed a lovely walk around the village.  There is always something unique in each village we visit.



The soft yellow stone was glowing gold in the sun.






The gate posts here were very different. Perhaps a chinese pagoda influence here.



There are amazing views out towards Northampton.

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This house has a large conservatory/greenhouse/orangery, whatever it was full of plants. The cross on the side perhaps points to a past use and the barge boards has a message carved out.

‘The man of the cross is the man of light’



Over the garden wall was a fine hedge of pleached lime trees.





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The grand house looks out over the junction, at the meeting of five ways, opposite a thatched cottage. 

Back on the canal, we met up with more of our boaty blogging friends, Vic and Sue from nb No Problem, and Graham and Jill from nb Matilda Rose. Good to meet them and have time for a proper chat.

11 miles, 7 locks

Wednesday, 22 May 2013



Our day started with a walk round the lovely hamlet of Wormleighton just a little way from the canal.

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The cottages around the green just below the church are lovely, the church is 13th century, and the tower gate house opposite is dated 1613.

The manor house is from the early 16th century with very worn stone and brick, and coats of arms set into the walls. The other side looked more grand, but could not get a good view with the camera.

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On the way back we passed the village pond, where only residents have the right to fish. 






And across the fields where the lumps and bumps show where the old medieval village once was. Today the lambs were enjoying climbing and skipping around on them.






Once on our way again we were soon at the top of the Napton locks, the first two are at Marston Doles.

An attractive cottage sits beside the lock,





and a blue working boat was moored at the water point!  I wonder who left that there?





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Down the Napton flight and we met Ian and Helen on nb Leo, making their way to Oxford, the Thames and the K&A I believe, where we have just come from.  Last year we passed on Heartbreak Hill, one day we may be able to stop and chat properly.

The cows we passed looked more like buffalo or bison, perhaps they are and English Mozzarella comes from here.





Although the sun was trying to come through by the time we got to the bottom of the hill, the view of the windmill was still a bit hazy.  We walked to the village shop for the Post Office, milk and a paper.




Our first family of cygnets on the water, keeping close to Mum.  Seven in all, Dad is just out of the picture, watching us closely.





One of the last Oxford bridges, with chain linked railings along the side.  These can be lowered down to allow wide-loaded farm trailers to cross over.



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And so we arrive at the oh, so familiar Braunston, I must have got the setting wrong on the camera, all a bit over exposed today!

At Braunston turn, turn left for North Oxford and Hawkesbury Junction, turn right for Grand Union and London.

Today we took the right hand bridge, passing all the moored boats in Braunston, we wanted to get up the locks and through the tunnel to a quiet spot for the night.  No other boats were on the move by now, so we worked the wide locks alone.

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Not tempted to stop at the Admiral Nelson, as it was getting late.  We were through the tunnel at about 8pm, tied up and ready for dinner at 8.30 just short of Norton Junction.

Wormleighton – Norton Junction

19 miles 15 locks, 1 tunnel