Our Boating Experience on ‘Mendip’ on the Grand Union Canal

On a beautifully sunny spring day, we were invited to Braunston to spend the day on a narrowboat by Union Canal Carriers. We were warmly welcomed by Heather who showed us around some of the fleet of boats at the yard and introduced us to the lovely people at Union Canal Carriers. Once we had a good viewing of some of the boats, we were taken to our boat for the day called ‘Mendip’, a 41ft semi-traditional stern narrowboat that sleeps up to 4 people.

After our handover tuition, we set off on the Grand Union Canal heading east towards Norton Junction. As we left our mooring, we were immediately greeted by a lock which was located just after the red brick bridge. We entered the first lock with another boat as this lock was a double lock, meaning two boats could use the lock at the same time.  A couple of us from each boat hopped off in order to operate the locks whilst the skippers of each boat navigated the boats in and out. The people on the other boat were helpful in teaching us how to use the locks as we were novices. It is true what they say, people on the waterways are very friendly!

After shortly cruising through another lock, we approached our third lock whereby we were met by gongoozlers at the Admiral Nelson, a lovely pub situated right beside the lock so that people could relax and enjoy the sun while we passed by.

We had three more locks to navigate on our journey before we approached the entrance to the Braunston Tunnel. Upon entering the tunnel, we made sure to switch our headlight on and aim it slightly towards to ceiling of the tunnel to make sure not to dazzle any other boats that may come towards us. As we cruised through the tunnel, it was interesting to see the air shafts that were needed to allow to construction of the tunnel, as well as the crooks in the structure along the way.

Once we had cruised the near two-kilometre stretch, we moored up roughly 100m past the tunnel exit to stop for some lunch. We made some croissants, pain au chocolat and coffee in the galley and sat comfortably in the saloon area to relax and chat.

After lunch, we continued east towards Norton Junction and found a winding hole that allowed us to turn the boat around and head back west towards the boatyard back at Braunston.  We cruised back through the Braunston Tunnel as well as the going through the six locks before arriving back at boatyard to safely and securely moor up the boat.