As we left Weedon on Friday, the Sun was shining beautifully but away to the north a large black cumulonimbus cloud was ominously increasing in stature and that became the pattern of weather for the day as we were continuously slammed by heavy hail showers that bounced off the canal as well as my umbrella, which was preciously guarding the otherwise vulnerable cabin hatch opening in which I was huddled.
Bombarded by heavy hail
‘Roots and Wings’ emerging round the corner
We travelled that day as far as the moorings at Wright’s Bridge (45), close to Gayton Junction, which is the entrance to the Northampton Arm and decided that we had had enough for the day. But later the sky cleared sufficiently for myself and the two ladies to walk across, via the small picturesque village of Rothersthorpe, to Lock 2 on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union.
The brown stone thatched village was looking wonderful under its mantle of Spring flowers. Multi coloured Tulips were fully in bloom and the soil around here is obviously very suitable for Magnolia as plenty of trees showed great strength of blossom.
The ancient church at Rothersthorpe
Magnolia in the churchyard
We were unable to view the inside of the ancient church as it was locked, so we made our way by footpath across to the canal and as we ambled back to the ships along the towpaths it was a pleasant change to see once more narrow locks that lead down to Northampton, visible not too far away in the distance. At the junction we passed ‘Moonshadow’ and my old friends Reg, Sandra and Jack their large dog. It was great to see them again and so far our paths seem to have crossed every year without actually planning it.
During our passage yesterday, the weather was unchanged though we managed to miss most of the squalls as they passed by. They were obviously heavy as they swept swiftly across the landscape; visibility was blotted out completely beneath the heavy cloud.
Briefly we were pleased at the protection from the showers that the Blisworth Tunnel could afford until we passed under the first of the open air shafts above us, when we were deluged by a mini waterfall that couldn’t be dodged. It had been a good idea to have the umbrella handy as I entered the darkness and it was up consequently for most of the tunnel’s one and three quarter miles. It had been wetter inside than out for the sunshine was warm and dry as well as bright to my eyes as we came out at the southern end of the tunnel and entered Stoke Bruerne.
The scales at Stoke Bruerne Top Lock
As we arrived at one thirty on this Saturday afternoon lots of visitors were milling around the area here with its old canal pub and waterway museum, while the trip boat was very busy taking sightseers the short distance up to the tunnel entrance and back again.
At this early time of day too there were plenty of free moorings above the lock which we took advantage of, settling quietly down for the rest of the day.