We set off this morning before the heat of the day had built too much. We’d only travelled a couple of boat lengths before we met another boat coming the other way. They were nearer the bridge than us, and I managed to stop at the only gap in the line of moored boats so that we could move aside to let them pass. We didn’t meet any other boats in the half mile to the Welford Junction. If I hadn’t known to expect a junction, I might have missed it.
We turned towards Welford and after a mile reached the only lock of the day. Having worked through that I was confused by the layout of the canal. The towpath had a fence across it and signs saying private mooring, the other side of the canal seemed to curve away around a bend, so I started to turn. It suddenly became obvious that this was not a channel at all, but a large winding hole opposite the marina entrance. Some swift reverse and a bit of bow thruster got me back on the channel again.
We soon reached the basin at the end of the canal – the Welford Arm is less than two miles long. I’d heard that it can sometimes be crowded at Welford so we moored up as soon as I saw a suitable spot. We walked up to see what the facilities are like at the terminus. There is a tight winding hole outside a dry dock, and a water point next to a cordoned off piece of bank where one of the edging stones is at a jaunty angle – we decided we’d leave all that for later and went to the village shop. The village is pleasant enough, though its only distinguishing feature is a statue of Postman Pat and Jess.
After a small amount of research I learnt that this model replaces an earlier one that had rotted away after 25 years, but I’ve found no reason for the creation of the original.
On our way back to the boat we again passed the beer garden of the Wharf Inn just as plates of food were being carried out, so we decided to have our lunch there. Lunch was excellent, but afterwards it was too hot to consider moving on for a while. When I put the cratch cover on, I remembered that on the starboard side, it partially occludes the painted on registration number. (On the port side, the logo is occluded, but not the number.) Canal and River Trust staff want to be able to read this easily at locks. I decided to see if I could paint the occluded parts on to the cover. It turned out well enough to be read from the other side of the canal.
We were just considering getting water and setting off when another boat arrived. The new arrival went straight to the winding hole, and made a lot of noise with the engine. Before long they had bumped in to the nearest boat. The owner was out giving them advice and fending, and eventually took the helm and turned the boat round for them. They then came back to moor on the space in front of us. Unfortunately, their boat was longer than the space, but luckily we were able to retie our ropes and move right up to the boat behind us to give them enough room. We’d already made friends with the boat behind while watching the earlier spectacle.
Two further boats arrived soon after, so we decided to stay here overnight and leave getting water until tomorrow – there was no longer reliable space to turn or get water.
Later in the afternoon two families of ducklings appeared alongside. The ducklings from the two families seemed to be happy enough together for a while until suddenly one of the mothers grabbed a duckling by the neck. She eventually relented and the duckling went the long way round back to its own mother. It looked a lot less friendly than organising boat moorings.