Going Back Again

We’ve been making unusually slow progress, even by narrowboat standards, since we came back to the boat.  We are in a section of canal we have travelled through several times already, but at greater speed.  Spending longer in one spot gives us more options for exploring the local area, though that is unusually awkward at the moment because the land is so waterlogged.  An interesting looking circular walk on my map was abandoned because of flooding.

Woman hanging from gate.  A woman is negotiating a kissing gate by using the wooden fence as a climbing frame.  The ground underneath is a huge muddy puddle.  An open field is visible behind her.
Clare Negotiating a Kissing Gate Assault Course

I was pleased with our clever negotiation of the first gate.  By approaching along the fence and standing on the rails we got through with dry feet.  Half way across the next field it turned in to a quagmire.  We turned back – we already knew how to negotiate the gate we’d just come through.

The following day we came back to the boat yard where our heating was repaired at the end of last year.  I’d enquired then about getting some other works done on the boat.  Gary had since been in touch to say they couldn’t manage before Easter.  We’d contrived to be passing on the first working day after Easter – I went in and apologised for the comedic timing.

Gary and his team came and measured various things.  They will be able to do what we need, but it will be a couple of weeks before some of the parts are ready.  We can go a long way in that time, but I think we’ll continue to travel slowly so we can be sure to get back again easily.

By the end of the following day we were moored near the village of Gayton.  Just before the sun set I suggested a stroll in to the village.  At the stile which might have taken us off the country lane we opted to stay on the tarmac.

Stile in to field. The field beyond the stile is largely devoid of grass.  The mud has ruts and other areas in which standing water is clearly visible.  This is not an inviting walk.
An Uninviting Stile to a Footpath/Mudbath

The sun had just set as we reached the village, so we didn’t explore very much.  Clare’s knee had been giving her some trouble too, so going gently back the way we’d come while she could still see where she was putting her feet was a good idea.  If we had been going through the village, we would have followed the sign.

Door for traffic.  A large stone wall at the side of a road has an impressive white door set in to a stone arch.  A road sign points towards it saying "All Through Traffic".
All Traffic Through This Door

Clare’s knee was more painful this morning, and our supplies of painkillers were quite low.  The best place to stock up was to go back to Bugbrooke, the village we’d shopped in the day before.  I got the folding bike out and pumped the tyres up.  There was even more rain in the night, so I walked back along the very squelchy towpath as far as the first road bridge.  It wasn’t designed to allow cyclists to leave the towpath though.

Canal road bridge.  A modern concrete arch bridge with brick facing rises high over the canal.  The retaining wall slopes at a little under 45 degrees towards the towpath.
New Canal Bridge Without Pedestrian Access

After a little indecision, I decided to walk up the steep retaining wall and lift the bike over the fences.  I realised (much) later that if I had carried on along the towpath and around the corner, I would have found the old canal bridge.  This takes the original road over the canal, but that road has been cut by the railway.  The new bridge leads to an even higher railway bridge replacing an earlier level crossing.

Brick canal bridge. A brick built arch bridge takes a small road over the canal.  There is a small path leading away behind a brick retaining wall allowing access between the road and the towpath.  The path has an arch of foliage above it.
The Official Route off the Canal

The quiet road I followed in to the village is very badly deformed.  There were a number of sections where water was pouring across the road from flooded fields, leaving huge puddles on the road surface.  There were a number of sections with temporary traffic lights because the carriageway was too deformed to allow two-way traffic.  As I cycled along I realised we had seen one of the extremely flooded fields from the canal.

Flooded field.  A field viewed from the back of a narrowboat has a stretch of water in it that seems to be wider than the canal.  There are trees on the far side of the field.  The sky is filled with ominous looking clouds.
One Canal or Two?

I found the pharmacy in Bugbrooke and so was able to get in a good supply of painkillers.  I went back to the boat by cycling on to the next bridge instead of attempting to descend the retaining wall.  By then I was ready for lunch.  We started on the unusual purchase we had made the previous day: cheese and marmite sourdough.  I’m sure some people would hate it, but we loved it.  We might get another when we go back to the farm shop in Bugbrooke.

Cheese and marmite loaf.  Half of a loaf of bread is sitting on a wooden breadboard.  The top of the bread is covered in melted cheese.  The cut edge of the loaf reveals that it has a thick layer of marmite in swirls within the bread.
Cheese and Marmite Sourdough Loaf
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