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Route Planning Help - Worcester to outside London/Hemel Hempsted


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Hi all,

 

I'm in the process of finalising the purchase of a 57ft NB (touch wood), and want to move it from its current location in Gloucester (or the owners can take it up to Worcester for me), and bring it down to London. Or rather, at a place outside London that is a good spot for a total newbie like me to get used to my new home but still within a reasonable reach of the city. I was thinking maybe around Hemel Hempsted or Watford could be a good spot, but really I have no idea. I'll be a cc'er but would prefer to be in or close-ish to London. I do want to gain experience in the quieter parts of the canal, but the full trip right off the bat, going through over 100 locks, is just a bit too daunting for me.

 

I'm looking at possible routes (start and end spots) and options for transporting (Helmsman or via truck) - does anyone have any suggestions?

 

I've had a quote from one Helmsman to take it from Diglis Basin to Hemel (10 days he said), and am waiting on quotes from Tuckeys and Ray Bowern.

 

TIA

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At the Southern end of the GU there are a few places where you can get off a truck into the water:

Willowbridge  MK

Aylesbury Canal Society, Circus Field

The boatyard at Winkwell

P&S Marine, Watford

High Line, Iver, I think.

Uxbridge have a crane but you will not get 57 ft into their yard.

 

Tuckeys may have alternatives: they have their own crane.

 

 10 days is about right by water.

 

Good luck CCing near Watford.  You will need it, but at least there will be plenty of company.

 

N

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1 minute ago, Victor Vectis said:

I don't like to ask but have you fully researched cc'ing in or close-ish to London?

 

There are an awful lot of other people doing it, you know.

Yes, I live in London currently, near the canal, and have several friends who are cc'ers so I'm a little prepared for how crowded it is. I can work from home/remotely so I don't NEED to be in the city, but I'd like to be a reasonable distance from my friends...

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Winkwell may be a good option to be craned in as you will still have a few locks to do southwards towards Watford and can get a feel for the canal area.

 

If you are craned in at P+S (Croxley Green) you could say pop southwards still as far as Cowley Lock - again looking for a good places - turn the boat round at Cowley and worm you way back northwards towards Watford and beyond - all the time sussing out the local area.

 

 

 

 

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If I was going from Gloucester to Hemel, I wouldn't go via Worcester. It would be quicker (and fewer locks) to go via the Avon from Tewksbury to Stratford.

If you are going to live aboard and you can work from the boat, why not do the trip yourself over a period of time? You can do a bit of boating, then stop for a few days to do some work, then boat a bit further. That way 100+ locks won't seem so daunting. And with lockdown ending you can have friends join you for some of the boating days so you are not singlehanding all the way. The CCer rules allow you to stay for up to 14 days in any place (except on the Avon), so you can spread the whole trip over months if you wish.

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1 minute ago, David Mack said:

If I was going from Gloucester to Hemel, I wouldn't go via Worcester. It would be quicker (and fewer locks) to go via the Avon from Tewksbury to Stratford.

 

I think it's shut to through traffic at the moment.  

 

 

1 minute ago, David Mack said:

If you are going to live aboard and you can work from the boat, why not do the trip yourself over a period of time? You can do a bit of boating, then stop for a few days to do some work, then boat a bit further. That way 100+ locks won't seem so daunting. And with lockdown ending you can have friends join you for some of the boating days so you are not singlehanding all the way. The CCer rules allow you to stay for up to 14 days in any place (except on the Avon), so you can spread the whole trip over months if you wish.

 

That would be my preferred option in this case, especially as the previous owner is happy to take the boat up the Severn to Worcester (or Tewkesbury, presumably if the Avon is preferred)

Although the Avon in spring might not be the best ever place to do your first lock singlehanded ...

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As long as the Severn is playing nicely are we sure pointing a new boater at the Tardebigge locks? It may finish them with boating for life!

 

If the OP does move it themselves I feel the long way round vis the Staffs & Worcester might be easer for them. Then, if they feel confident with lock flights they could go via the Wolverhampton flight or via the T&M, Coventry etc.

 

 

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21 hours ago, thingsweregood said:

'm looking at possible routes (start and end spots)

I'd say move it yourself by water if at all possible. Easiest route is to get it moved to Worcester, then up the Worc and Birmingham. Aim to stop overnight at the top of the Tardebigge, then do the run through the outskirts of Brum to the top of the Lapworth Flight of the North Stratford canal in a day. Other than that, you can stop pretty much where you like. By the time you've done all the narrow locks from Worcester to the junction with the Grand Union, you'll be an expert at them. Then it is learning the extra tricks for doing wide locks on the Grand Union all the way to the north end of that London's malign influence. Other routes are possible, but this is the quickest and easiest. No rivers, least urban.

If you can work remotely for a few weeks, then this will be a very pleasant introduction to boat life. If you need to commute in to the Smoke for a day or two, there are good transport links close to the canal for a lot of the way. Railway lines tend to follow a similar route to canals as they both make use of the same valleys to go to the same towns. Also, if/when you discover teething problems with the boat, there are plenty of boat yards on the way to fix problems you don't fancy looking at yourself and lower prices than dar'n south. Having friends come over for a day or two to help crew will make the whole thing more fun (Covid rules permitting).

 

Jen

 

Edited by Jen-in-Wellies
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If you get on with it it's only 5 days from Worcester to Hemel 😱

 

 

 

 

Yes it is possible,  I have done it single handed from Lowesmoor Basin to Winkwell in 5 days😎

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23 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

As long as the Severn is playing nicely are we sure pointing a new boater at the Tardebigge locks? It may finish them with boating for life!

 

If the OP does move it themselves I feel the long way round vis the Staffs & Worcester might be easer for them. Then, if they feel confident with lock flights they could go via the Wolverhampton flight or via the T&M, Coventry etc.

 

Having done both Tardebigge and the Staffs & Worcs last summer, I don't remember any difference about the ease of locking - yes, there are a lot of locks from Worcester up to Brum, but they are all very straightforward. I'd have no problem with sending a new boater that way.

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32 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

I'd say move it yourself by water if at all possible. Easiest route is to get it moved to Worcester, then up the Worc and Birmingham. Aim to stop overnight at the top of the Tardebigge, then do the run through the outskirts of Brum to the top of the Lapworth Flight of the North Stratford canal in a day. Other than that, you can stop pretty much where you like. By the time you've done all the narrow locks from Worcester to the junction with the Grand Union, you'll be an expert at them. Then it is learning the extra tricks for doing wide locks on the Grand Union all the way to the north end of that London's malign influence. Other routes are possible, but this is the quickest and easiest. No rivers, least urban.

If you can work remotely for a few weeks, then this will be a very pleasant introduction to boat life. If you need to commute in to the Smoke for a day or two, there are good transport links close to the canal for a lot of the way. Railway lines tend to follow a similar route to canals as they both make use of the same valleys to go to the same towns. Also, if/when you discover teething problems with the boat, there are plenty of boat yards on the way to fix problems you don't fancy looking at yourself and lower prices than dar'n south. Having friends come over for a day or two to help crew will make the whole thing more fun (Covid rules permitting).

 

Jen

 

Thanks Jen, this is really thorough advice! I guess I'm just nervous to be single handing locks straight off the bat, but maybe I can convince (or pay) someone to join me for the first few days till I get the hang of it. Don't want to sink my boat 3 days into living on her...

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1 hour ago, John Brightley said:

Having done both Tardebigge and the Staffs & Worcs last summer, I don't remember any difference about the ease of locking - yes, there are a lot of locks from Worcester up to Brum, but they are all very straightforward. I'd have no problem with sending a new boater that way.

The main difference is not the number of locks but that the bunch together at Tardebigge. After all, you have to do the same height change whichever way you go to Brum (no intermediate downhill) and they are mostly of a standard rise. Each has its own special quirks of canal history/engineering.

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3 minutes ago, Mike Todd said:

After all, you have to do the same height change whichever way you go to Brum (no intermediate downhill)

 

If you go uphill on the Severn to Stourport there's less locks to Birmingham, but that's not much use if you want to go towards London ...

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We are over thinking this. Hire boaters with no prior experience go up Tardebigge every day of the summer. It is harder to do on your own (done it twice!), so that is a good day to arrange a crew and lie to them about what they'll be doing. 😀

Edited by Jen-in-Wellies
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21 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

We are over thinking this. Hire boaters with no prior experience go up Tardebigge every day of the summer. It is harder to do on your own (done it twice!), so that is a good day to arrange a crew and lie to them about what they'll be doing. 😀

 

Helpfully my sister, her husband and four of the neicephews live not far from Tardebigge top :D

 

 

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2 hours ago, TheBiscuits said:

 

I think it's shut to through traffic at the moment.  

 

 

 

That would be my preferred option in this case, especially as the previous owner is happy to take the boat up the Severn to Worcester (or Tewkesbury, presumably if the Avon is preferred)

Although the Avon in spring might not be the best ever place to do your first lock singlehanded ...

According to the ANT website, the river is fully open from monday.  The issue is that covid restrictions prevent more than one household being onboard a boat.  If I was the OP, I'd buy the boat and spend the time until 17th May getting used to cruising, by going up and down the Gloucester and Sharpness for a few weeks.  I can't think of a better canal for a learner.  Then get a friend or two to join them for a week or so from the 17th May.  In that week you should be easily able to get from Gloucester to the Grand Union via the Avon, the Stratford canal, then onto the Grand Union at Kingswood Junction.  That's a lovely trip and a great introduction to boating.  Then the OP can take their time heading down the Grand Union to reach the London area by midsummer, with some unforgettable memories too!

Edited by doratheexplorer
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2 hours ago, Tony Brooks said:

As long as the Severn is playing nicely are we sure pointing a new boater at the Tardebigge locks? It may finish them with boating for life!

 

If the OP does move it themselves I feel the long way round vis the Staffs & Worcester might be easer for them. Then, if they feel confident with lock flights they could go via the Wolverhampton flight or via the T&M, Coventry etc.

 

 


Plenty of hirers do Tardebigge early in their holidays, Tony, and he has got the locks up from Worcester first to start sorting themselves out.

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10 minutes ago, Graham Davis said:


Plenty of hirers do Tardebigge early in their holidays, Tony, and he has got the locks up from Worcester first to start sorting themselves out.

Do you think if I did the 2 days RYA helmsman course, plus spend a week or two tootling up and down at Worcester first, it would be enough to tackle the overall trip (excluding Tardebigge, which sounds like its easier with a crew) by myself? Locks just seem a bit daunting by youerself with a 57ft boat!

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29 minutes ago, thingsweregood said:

Do you think if I did the 2 days RYA helmsman course, plus spend a week or two tootling up and down at Worcester first, it would be enough to tackle the overall trip (excluding Tardebigge, which sounds like its easier with a crew) by myself? Locks just seem a bit daunting by youerself with a 57ft boat!

Maybe.  But Tardebigge isn't really too hard.  The locks are single width and they work fairly easily.  Give me Tardebigge going up over Hatton going down any day.  Just allow yourself all day to get through them.  Commonly there are volunteers on at Tardebigge anyway, especially at weekends.

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18 minutes ago, thingsweregood said:

Do you think if I did the 2 days RYA helmsman course, plus spend a week or two tootling up and down at Worcester first, it would be enough to tackle the overall trip (excluding Tardebigge, which sounds like its easier with a crew) by myself? Locks just seem a bit daunting by youerself with a 57ft boat!

I am sure you will cope, it perfectly normal to be a bit nervous, but the best advice I got was not to feel under pressure when others are around, which turned out to be spot on. When on your own you do everything at half pace, but that is part of doing this 'muscle memory' thing. 

On my first few days I was lucky enough to have CRT put me through some tricky lock complexes, then I met another lady singlehander and we leapfrogged quite a few locks and swing bridges ie taking it in turns, (you need two BW keys for this). 

Other boaters will help you, as will random people, but that was just to push the gates really. 

I have two centre lines, one is (now! ) too short to reach the prop, I use it for most locks, going up, the other is a a heavier and longer rope which I use if I need to have more control, eg deeper locks, windy weather, going down. I am thinking about buying a 14mm hemp line, which floats as my main centreline, others may comment on the use of centrelines for singlehanders, it's so long since I did any locks I'm afraid I'll have forgotten how, the worse thing I found was that every barrier seemed to be slightly different, but I think I've got over that now. 

 

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22 minutes ago, LadyG said:

I am thinking about buying a 14mm hemp line,

 

 

14mm tends to be a bit thin to grip properly, you'd be surprised how much easier it is to handle the boat with 16mm or even 19mm lines.

My main mooring lines are 22mm Nylon Octoplait, soft to handle, strong and of a size that are a 'good fit' in the hand, secondary lines are 19mm 3-strand Polyester.

 

Just my experiences, others opinions are available

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1 hour ago, thingsweregood said:

Do you think if I did the 2 days RYA helmsman course, plus spend a week or two tootling up and down at Worcester first, it would be enough to tackle the overall trip (excluding Tardebigge, which sounds like its easier with a crew) by myself? Locks just seem a bit daunting by youerself with a 57ft boat!

 Doing a RYA Course will do no harm, but plenty of people pick up their hire boat from (say) Black Prince and head up Tardebigge without out doing it, and there really isn't very much you could "tootle up and down" around Worcester.
And from my experience a 57' boat is quite easy to take through a narrow lock; in fact sometimes the longer the better, and the RYA Course would remove most of that daunting feeling.

 

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