Our mooring by Thrapston Bridge was used by the Canoe Hire Company for launching its boats and the guys had said that they were putting into the water this Saturday morning 13 canoes and their occupants. I said we would be out of the way by 9.30 but on Friday evening we were joined by two other boats, happily both skippers agreed to be gone by then and dead on time we swung SKYY around and got on our way. The sun was desperate to break through the cloud and eventually it succeeded.
Five locks later we stopped on the extensive mooring beside the Doc Martins sports facility, Regrettable none of the indicated boaters facilities were available, not even water, fortunately we weren’t desperate except for rubbish disposal. We enjoyed an alfresco lunch after which the boys fell asleep in the sunshine. Later in the afternoon we took a stroll up to Irthlingborough, but it turned out to be an uninspiring and tired looking town, only the unusual church tower saved it from total sadness.
On Sunday we intended to move on to Wellingborough, but on the other side of the river the walks around Stanwick Lakes are extensive so most of the morning was spent walking off Jacquie’s last night’s three course meal and as Brian and Marilyn needed to get a taxi back to their car in Thrapston that afternoon, we stayed put.
On Monday we did get going, under the largest arch of the old medieval bridge before passing under the 1930’s bypass bridge. We did now need water and at Wellingborough we were able to fill up, although the pumpout and Elsan sluice was not operational, it has to be said that this river is almost totally devoid of any useable facility other than at a boatyard and as for rubbish disposal, EA provide none at all and we were reduced to getting rid of it in small quantities in litter bins, one might be forgiven in thinking that EA is doing its best to deter boaters, but maybe I am just getting a bit jaded.
The embankment mooring was right beside a park with a child’s mini funfair and it was buzzing, we did think we would move on, but were too lazy and as the sun went down it quietened except for the noise from the Whitbread flour mill on the opposite bank. It was in fact the most disturbed night’s sleep we have both had in five years of cruising, so be warned.
It was a bright Tuesday morning and soon there were lots of mums and children about, feeding the swans and ducks and we got chatting to one of them, the two children whispered to mum, they were asking if they could come on board to have a look, no problem, except as I picked the second child up to swing her on board, my left knee went ‘PING’ and now I am hobbling, amazingly there is no pain when I am resting it, but I can’t put much weight on it and the seventeen locks of the Northampton Arm aren’t too far ahead.
Jacquie did all seven of the locks on the way to Billings Aquadrome Marina, which is on the outskirts of Northampton, we had hoped to moor riverside before we got that far, but the indicated moorings had ‘Private No Mooring’ signs so the marina was the only option. I do wish they would put up some descent signage, as the entrance to the marina is immediately beyond a bridge and you are past the entrance before the tiny sign is visible, the only way in is to reverse back under the bridge before turning into the arm, even once into the marina the sign for the pumpout and visitor moorings is so small I couldn’t even read it with binoculars until we were right on it. Anyway the charge is only £6.50 a night, cheapest yet.
It was still another six locks to get into the centre of Northampton and the plan for Wednesday was to get that, far ready to push up the seventeen locks on Thursday. Just before the Northampton Town Lock a new pontoon mooring had been installed alongside the Becket’s Park and we decided to take advantage of this pleasant spot for the rest of the day.