Thu 18th Oct Stanton Low Park (MK) to Water Eaton (MK)
Misty morning at Stanton Low Park
Mist on the water
There was dew and a mist this morning as we made an early start, aiming to reach Giffard Park, just over a mile away, for breakfast.
We passed the boat we had shared Cosgrove Lock with, Bishy Barney Bee, which apparently is a Norfolk term for a ladybird.
Bishy Barney Bee
At Giffard Park there are 7 day moorings with concrete edges and no rings. Boats tie to any bit of sticking out reinforcement rods, or wedged in length of rope. The sanitary station has bollards, and we pulled in there to dispose of rubbish, before moving through the bridge where we could moor the bows on piling, the stern on a bit of string left there by a previous boater.
Tied on to bits of string
Then we went for breakfast at the Giffard Park sizzling pub. Hazel went by bus from there into Milton Keynes Centre while James caught up on a few things on the boat.
Short term mooring for breakfast and shopping
A very wide boat went past. What happens when two of these meet?
Back end of a widebeam
When Hazel returned, we thought we would go for an extra hour or so, and we set off at around 2.30pm, intending to moor just before Fenny Stratford Lock. This would enable us to use the facilities the next morning.
We passed some sculptures, and one of those lifeboats which seem to have no windows.
Then we passed the sign announcing the site of the proposed Milton Keynes to Bedford link, but just after that we saw a lot of development going on, and it seems that there is to be a new marina, with an unusual three-way footbridge. It will be interesting to see how this will impact the new canal link. For an image of the bridge see here
New marina under construction
Poplar trees are numerous around here
Under the A5
When we reached the Fenny Stratford visitor moorings, we found there were no spaces, so we had to go through the lock and associated swing bridge. As there were no more facilities before Leighton, we stopped just after the lock to fill the water tank, empty cassettes and dispose of rubbish.
Fenny Stratford Lock and swingbridge
We moved on to search for a mooring, and ended up soon after bridge 97 where there was some piling. We couldn’t get fully into the side as it was silted up, but at least we had stopped, as by then it was cold and late.
1 lock, 7 miles, 1 swing bridge
Fri 19th Oct Water Eaton (MK) to Stoke Hammond
Dense fog greeted us this morning, and it gradually thinned out and cleared as the sun began to shine.
Fog in Water Eaton
Swans in the fog
We didn’t have far to go. We passed Willowbridge “Marina” and went up through Stoke Hammond Lock, finding a pleasant mooring in countryside before bridge 106.
Stoke Hammond Lock
We found we couldn’t open the side doors as the boat was too low down. Later we found that the levels had risen, and we could. Once before on this pound we had found ourselves stuck on the bottom in the morning as the levels had dropped.
Stoke Hammond mooring
We had a music practice, and then sorted out our clothes, getting our winter clothes out from under the bed, and stowing in vacuum packs some of the summer clothes we won’t need until next year. We also ended up with a sackful for the charity shops.
Sunset in Stoke Hammond
1 lock, 3 miles
Sat 20th Oct Stoke Hammond to Leighton Buzzard
Dawn at Stoke Hammond
We had a leisurely start today. One hire boat came past from Three Locks before we set off, and there were two boats descending in the bottom lock when we arrived, so the lock was set for us.
Crossing over at the foot of Soulbury Three Locks
James found that the handle was loose on one of the lock beams. Surely the volunteers must know about this?
As we were reaching the top of the middle lock, someone started filling the top lock, which had been in our favour. We therefore had to wait in the middle lock, with the top gates open, while the lock above filled, and then a widebeam boat entered from above. The lady said she hadn’t realised how far up we were.
Soulbury Three Locks
We had a lovely sunny cruise from there, following the winding course of the canal and never far from the busy railway line.
Beverley and Ascot, fuel boats.
Leighton Lock was in our favour, but leakage had quarter filled it. We passed the blue and red hire fleet, and thankfully they were moored well with no slack in the lines. In other places, the boats can be moored three abreast with slack lines, and they all move across as you pass.
We passed the Tesco moorings, with the usual flotilla of ducks waiting for bread, and we moored a little way further on, past the apartments, where there was a decent hedge for Hugo instead of vandal proof fencing.
Hugo on lookout duty
Hazel went shopping in the town, and James went to help her for the Aldi and Tesco part.
Back to the boat, and looking forward to the Baptist Church in the morning.
Leighton Buzzard mooring
Sunset in Leighton Buzzard
4 locks, 4 miles
Sun 21st Oct Leighton Buzzard
We walked up through the town, passing our usual New Life Church, who have their meeting in a school. We went to Hockliffe Street Baptist Church, where we understood from their website that our friend David Allsop had preached last Sunday. David is now part of Broughton Church, but is a retired Baptist minister. We had a warm welcome, and mentioned our connection with David to several people. It was not until talking to the pastor over coffee that we discovered that it is a different David Allsop, and today he was the guy on the keyboard! We must have confused several people today.
Inside the church
The worship band played from the first floor balcony where the organ is situated. Apart from the keyboard player, there was a guitarist, a lady singer, a trombone player, a drummer, and a cellist. The talk was from Paul’s letter to Timothy, and was a call to declare our faith to others.
After coffee there, we went to Mevan Turkish restaurant, where we had booked a table for 1pm. The menu was not the same as the lunchtime one we had seen online, and it turned out that the lunch one was only available Monday to Friday. Checking the website later, it does say that in small print at the bottom. However, we did not want the menu on offer, so we apologised and left.
We went to the pub next door called the Picture House (an old cinema) which was serving Sunday Roasts. They advertised themselves as a traditional free house. Hoping for a decent cider, we discovered that they had a cider festival going on, with a range of cardboard box ciders behind the bar. Brilliant, we thought, but on closer inspection, not one of them was made from just apples. They all had other pollutants like raspberry, rhubarb or mango. The only apple ciders were Strongbow or Magners.
We ordered our roast beef lunches, and James had half a Strongbow, while Hazel had a very sweet Mango “cider”. When the food arrived, it was the worst roast beef we had ever experienced. It was actually inedible. The first forkful took several minutes to chew, and was tasteless. We don’t often leave food on the plate, but we could not eat any more. We spoke to the manager to point it out, and he agreed with us and gave us a full refund (which we hadn’t asked for). The desserts were very good.
We walked back to the boat via Aldi and Tesco
No boating today
Next: A four day cruise back to Aylesbury, with probable good weather forecast. We are looking forward to catching up with boating friends and people from Broughton Church, plus the Boaters Christian Fellowship AGM in Rugby on Saturday.