The last days of the narrowboat cruise on the scenic Grand Union Canal

We are on the Grand Union Canal, said to be one of the most scenic canals of them all. Although this is my only narrowboat adventure, I am inclined to agree.

National World reporter Catalina Constantin got a real taste of life on the water with a mini-break on the Northamptonshire canal ahead of Britain's biggest inland waterways festival – the Crick Boat Show (May 25-27).

Passing under old stone bridges on the still, calm water, with the sound of bird chatter and the near total absence of industrial noise creates an ambience known only on the canal.

We bravely made our way through the Braunston Tunnel on the second morning (May 1), which turned out to be a smooth trip that took around 20 minutes.

After emerging with a sense of relief, we did not stop until we reached the most important point on the map, the busy village of Braunston.

We inevitably made our way to the Braunston locks, a set of six locks that we successfully navigated like narrowboating pros. By the time we made our way through the locks and back, I was a proper gongoozler.

We did not have much time to explore the charming village.

After successfully reversing course in the ‘winding hole’ between the Wolfhampcote bridges, we passed through the beautiful and busy village once again, admiring the boats around us.

An evening meal at The Boathouse restaurant was welcome.

Braunston Tunnel, 13 locks, several bridges, and 18 miles later, we start making our way back to Gayton Marina.

I am at the tiller. I push the throttle forward into gear, pointing the boat towards the centre of the canal, and our diesel engine kicks in.

We made the most of our remaining time on the canal by spending it outside, enjoying the stunning landscape and countryside.

The narrow parts and the moored boats on both sides of the canal tested our navigational skills. Just keep it slow and keep a safe distance while passing those areas.

This time, we went through the Whilton Locks near Daventry, relaxed and determined to support fellow boaters.

At Whilton Locks Bridge number 15, we met an avid reader of our newspaper who helped us out and chatted with us for a short while. He and his wife were returning to their home in Long Buckby.

After passing the locks, our first stop was at the Crossroads, a beautiful, country-style pub in Weedon, where we enjoyed a delicious meal served by Ryan, Zoe, and Claire. It is a charming spot, especially for lunch on a warm day.

We travelled back on the Kentish Plover until right before sunset on the last night (May 2), enjoying the companionship of a peaceful herd of cows, ducks, and swans along the route.

We found the perfect spot to moor for our last night, just half an hour away from the Gayton Marina. It was near the Evergreen Riding Stables, a horse riding school in Gayton, where we were able to gaze at several of their horses before the sunset.

Towards the end of our trip, we felt terribly accomplished about negotiating all the locks, navigating, and handling the boat with just the two of us.

We had a fabulous time and would definitely recommend this route to first-timers who want to experience locks and a tunnel.

Make sure you pack your wellies and a torch. Bring some onboard entertainment while you are at it. Watch a couple of narrowboat guides and plan your itinerary before deciding on anything.

Even better, you could make a Google map on your phone and include as many locations as you like – the best mooring spots, places to eat, locks, and much-needed water points.

It was the end of an adventure, but one we will be sure to repeat.

This trip was made as part of this newspaper’s latest campaign to raise awareness and show you some of the lesser-known and family-friendly destinations in Northamptonshire.

Hidden Gems offers a platform to people across the county, from a variety of sectors, who want to share what they have to offer and encourage visitors to support the community.

If any businesses or venues would like to get involved with this campaign, email [email protected].