Moorings on the Witham and her associated navigable drains are peaceful, quiet and dark and this one as no exception.We were moored next to a railway line, but this is Lincolnshire and I don’t remember a train passing after 9pm last night and none to disturb our peaceful Sunday either. Mindful of our 1pm deadline for getting through the lock, Marcus started off early this morning so we could see the rest of the drain, or at least as far as Swineshead Bridge if time was tight. Me, I stayed in bed and read for a while. There is something super about being warm in bed whilst cruising, but then curiosity got the better of me, so time to get up and light the fire. Double greatness- a Sunday morning lie in and cosy Harebell coal stove snugness. However, the sun also shone and cosy snugness gave way to warm fresh air and the promise of a gorgeous day for crusing.
I was breakfast chef this (mid) morning, cooking bagels with cream cheese and bacon. Marcus was cruising madly down the drain towards Swineshead bridge and “past Freshpots”. Freshpots has not been Freshpots for quite a few years now, but in its time was the place we bought our baking potatoes from for the catering business. Again, everything looks sooo different from the waterways. We cruised past what we had thought, for years & years, to be the limit of navigation and went on quite a way further and turned round in the entrance to another drain a little before Donnington Bridge- which is that actual limit of navigation. We did not have the time to explore and were also a little wary of giving the engine a hard time though the increasingly weedy waterway. We had passed the other Narrowboats, Bancroft and Petrel heading back to Boston, just after Swinsehead Bridge, so we were feeling the pressure to get back.
We reached Black Sluice at about 12.45 and had just enough time for a cuppa and a catch up with the other 2 crews and also the people from NB Lacerta, who had walked over to cruise back with their friends. Petrel & Bancroft went first, leaving us alone and feeling small, in the mass of weeds before the lock. Marcus was pacing up and down the pontoon, anxious about the tidal section, but we’d already been assured that there was plenty of water on the Haven and no risk of us nearly getting stranded again. We’d also been warned that when the gates opened, the water rushed in, so not to bee too alarmed- gulp!
Soon enough, the light was green for Harebell to go, but she moved oh so slowly through the weed but got into the lock ok. The lock did not fill in the “traditional” way of paddle gear being wound up, but by the gates moving slightly and letting the water in- Oh my goodness did it come in with a rush!! Then, when we were 3/4 full, they opened a little more and let another rush of seawater in…THEN….when we were nearly full, they began to open all the way and for a split second I saw the tidal water higher than the lock level until it all whooshed in and the level began to equalise. Just enough time for a warning shout from the lockie about a motor boat on the Haven and we were again off, pushing against an outgoing tide, but Harebell holding her own, our brave little boat pushed on through the deep river, cutting through the water like a pro. The higher tide afforded slightly better views, but did not impeded our progress and we soon caught up with Petrel and Bancroft outside Grand Sluice where we tied up 3 abreast and waited in the lovely afternoon sunshine for the tide to drop low enough so we could head through and back onto the Witham. We had quite a few spectators pausing on the bridge to take in the sight of 3 narrowboats patiently waiting in the afternoon sunshine. The rivets on the gates gave a good indication of how far the tide had dropped since I last looked- it was a slow process but time & tide and all that…..We’d already been told that the lockie wanted the 2 longer boats through first, as we were small enough to be locked through if necessary
Never one to behave like she is the smallest boat, when the lights changed to red/green and we’d untied, Harebell hung back a little to let the others go first, but did herself proud, powering on through the lock and back onto the Witham. Plenty of spectators lined the route again and Harebell got her picture taken LOADS. All too soon, our tidal adventure was over and as the gates closed, they shut behind us a completely different world and brought to close our latest waterway exploration.
Once again, we were heading back up the Witham homeward bound- what a fantastic weekend one of the most enjoyable so far. We love our little boat. xx