... and towards Bow Locks which offer a tidal route back to the Thames for anyone who finds the cavernous Limehouse Lock a little too tame.
It's fair to say the Lee is not at its best on the outskirts of London so we cruised most of the way out towards Enfield before we stopped. Pylons line the Lee for a long way at its southern end and add to the impression that this is more of a commercial waterway than the quaint image of canals many people have.
There are plenty of moorings in Cheshunt and we stopped right outside the Olympic white water centre which now seems to be well used.
We did enquire about having a go (no, not in Pas Meche) but they don't let you go near it unless you know what you're doing! That's probably for the best given the 'big boys' course looks like this:
From Cheshunt we had a short cruise up to Broxbourne. The weather obviously realised that we were on a (rare) river section of the navigation as it poured with rain most of the day.
The next day was much brighter so we pressed on up the Lee, passing the junction with the River Stort.
We climbed Stansted Abbots lock (tip for boaters, go carefully with the enormous gate paddles as the water flows are really strong in this lock) and moored in Ware for the night, which is a lovely little town.
We made it to Hertford on Saturday and after a look round we decided we'd stay another day. We had one of our occasional bursts of massive productivity on the Sunday and began the long and rather smelly process of oiling all the wood inside Pas Meche.
After turning at the limit of navigation in Hertford - I'll spare you another shot of Dave's 'concentrating face' - we headed back downstream to the junction with the River Stort.
The Stort is instantly different to the Lee, being narrower and winding and surrounded by surprisingly green, rural landscape right from the start. The other crucial difference is that the locks are only 13' wide rather than the 'standard' 14'. This means two narrowboats (being around 7' wide each) can't share locks and also means you have to open both gates at every lock rather than sneaking through one.
We meant to fill with diesel at Roydon Marina but hadn't appreciated from our guidebook that the marina is actually below the level of the river and accessed by a lock down to it. We had overshot the lock before we realised what it was. Trust me, it's amazing how quickly things happen at 3mph sometimes!
Nevermind, we headed on through Roydon, under a couple of low bridges (but nothing to worry us Basingstoke Canal veterans)
The second photo above is Roydon Rail bridge which we reckon is the lowest on the navigation so if you fit through this you should be fine the rest of the way (unless it rains a lot).
With the low bridges out of the way our growing duck family braved a ride on the roof .
Apart from Middlewich (the big chap) who we rehomed from a charity shop, and the little grey one at the back, these have been fished out of the canal on our travels.
After Burnt Mill lock (no sign of a mill so I guess the clue is in the name) the river turns twisty with a number of blind bends. This is fine until you get a large ball of fishing line around the prop and lose all power and steering. For once nobody was around to witness our embarrassment as Pas Meche gracefully sailed into the outside bank of a bend (with us braced for impact on the back deck), made a half hearted attempt to climb up out of the river and then thought better of it.
Luckily the Stort is pretty quiet so Dave had plenty of time to dive down the weedhatch and unwind all the fishing line off the prop. You'll have to excuse the acres of underpants in this photo but, as boaters will know, getting down the weedhatch sometimes calls for positions that would make a contortionist wince.
After a night above Harlow Lock we pressed on to the end of the Stort, passing through Sawbridgeworth and under the low Kecksy's bridges (which should be fine if you made it through Roydon).
Bihsops Stortford marks the end of the navigable River Stort and we turned at the winding hole before going to explore what turns out to be a really pretty town.
The next day felt like summer had made a reappearance after some pretty chilly days recently. The top end of the Stort is lovely and we enjoyed the cruise out in the sunshine.
Observant readers who are still paying attention will have spotted the pram on the roof. No, we don't have any new arrivals on board (apart from the ducks that is) but we were joined by Victoria's friend Catherine and her baby James on the way out of Bishops Stortford. Catherine dusted off her narrow boating skills from previous hire holidays and proved that women really can multi-task. Needless to say Dave thought it best not try and copy this tricky manoevre.
We are now gradually making our way back towards London. I mentioned in the previous blog that we had a decision to make over whether to cross London via the canals or whether to take the big scary shortcut along the tidal Thames. Well, we've taken our brave pills and decided to go for the tideway...
If there are no further updates to this blog you'll know that was the wrong decision! On the plus side, if we get swept out to sea at least our boat name will fit in over in France!