Day 9

I went for a walk around Northampton last night. Seems to be a young folks town (city?) Probably having a uni right in the centre adds to that and maybe all the older people have moved out to suburbs. Seems a nice place but you can’t really tell in one quick wander around the town centre. I forgot to bring a fleece on this trip and there have been a coulpe of cold days, even the nice days are cold if you set off early. I tried a few shops in Peterborough but of course it;s the wrong time of year to buy fleeces. There’s huge Aldi near the quay in Northampton so I had a wander around the clothing section. No fleeces but I did buy a very cosy zip-up hoody, so I’m ready for the great British summer.

Probably walked too far the dodgy knee was hurting by the time I got back and really stiff in the morning.

Set off from Northampton dead-on 08.00, it’s only a couple of hundred metres from the quayside to the beginning of the GU Northampton Arm. The arm has 17 locks, four individually named ones at the Northampton end then the Rothersthorpe flight of 13, they’re number from the top down. The first four are nicely spaced so you get a sit down between them, the flight much tighter. A narrowboat I saw on the Nene a few days ago soon caught up with me and I was flagging so I pulled in for a rest after #13 and let them pass. Unfortunately by the time I was ready to go I was stuck on the mud, and then another narrowboat arrived. They helped me through the next two, the bloke running up and down opening and closing gates for me then for his partner/wife/? And then Leon showed up as I was leaving #12.

I’ve heard of Leon, many boaters on the canal and on the Nene have mentioned him but I’d never met him until today. Leon is a self-employed, freelance lock-keeper, who volunteers to help boaters on the Rothersthorpe flight. He doesn’t make a formal charge but lets it be known contributions are welcome because it’s his only source of income. I pointed out that since Covid I’ve rarely carried any money I just wave the credit card. He wasn’t bothered, we swapped phone numbers and he texted his bank details for a BACS payment! He worked his socks of for more than two hours getting me up the next 11 locks. Good job because I wouldn’t have made it in one day otherwise.

So nice long sit down for the rest of the afternoon, no more locks until Whilton. I stopped a couple of miles short of there ready to tackle them in the morning. The knee’s getting better with Voltarol and support, so raring to go…

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