Saturday, 21 October 2017

Braunston to Stoke Bruerne

2017 44  Braunston to Milton Keynes

Sun 15th Oct   Braunston

Moored in Braunston

The path up the hill

We followed the path up the hill from the bridge for the All Saints Church 11am service. We allowed plenty of time as the older we get the more puffed we get!  We’d rather arrive early and relaxed than late and out of breath.

We had a warm welcome and the place was well attended.  The service was more traditional than we are used to with a robed choir and hymn books, but the choir were good, and the service was conducted with meaning by Sarah, who was good at explaining the words of the hymns and prayers.  After the service we met Kim and Zephyr, who have a narrowboat in the Marina. We gave them a BCF leaflet.

Children’s work at All Saints

The choir depart

After the service

We walked a short distance down the street to the Old Plough where we enjoyed a Sunday roast. Several of the customers had also been at the church service.

Old Plough

We walked back to the boat after a short visit to the convenience store for some bits and pieces.

Autumn colours

Sunshine in Braunston

While we were watching Country File on TV, Hugo brought in a mouse and ate it. We didn’t notice it until we spotted the remains on the floor!

No boating today.  1 mouse

Mon 16th Oct   Braunston to Norton Junction

Hugo had brought in a small mouse as a present. It was unceremoniously given a watery grave.

We started the day with a visit to the floating cafe for a cooked breakfast.  Well, if people don’t support them they may go out of business, and we can’t have that!

Gongoozlers Cafe

Then we reversed a short way to the marina entrance, and took the boat in to buy a bottle of gas from the chandlery.  We passed between all the moored boats and left via the other entrance.

Braunston Marina

A Fox boat spotted in Braunston Marina

Leaving Braunston Marina

We turned right as we left the marina, and were soon at the first of the six locks that climb up from here towards Braunston Tunnel.  There were two volunteers helping through.

Braunston Bottom Lock

We waited in the next lock, as the volunteers had told us that another boat had come into view, and might be coming up the locks as well.  Meanwhile another volunteer arrived, but all three stayed at the bottom lock.

Waiting for another boat

When the boat arrived, it turned out to be pleasant Scottish fellow called Ian, on his own on a boat called Winzer Castle, which he had only just bought, and he was still on a learning curve.  At one point he suggested that James should steer his boat into the lock, while he went to set the next one.  It would have been helpful if one of the three volunteers had come up the flight with us, setting the locks for us.

Lock 3 with Winzer Castle

James steering Ian’s boat

We carried on along the summit pound, through Braunston Tunnel to Norton Junction. We were experiencing the remains of Hurricane Ophelia and there was an eerie atmosphere, with a pink sky due to Sahara sand, and smoke from fires in Portugal, carried on the wind.

Braunston Tunnel entrance

Braunston Tunnel plaque

Emerging from Braunston Tunnel

Autumn leaves in the cutting

Pink sky

We would have moored just before Bridge 10 but the moorings are still out of action, with orange netting marking the places where the towpath has large holes.  Instead, we turned into the Leicester Arm to moor by a hedge which we hoped would protect us a little from the forecast gales.  We didn’t want to be under trees, with high winds forecast.

Orange netting at Bridge 10

Into the Leicester section

A hopeful visitor

Ophelia certainly produced some wind overnight, rocking the boat at times.

6 locks, 4 miles, 1 mouse

Tue 17th Oct   Norton Junction to Bugbrooke

We debated whether to reverse out, as we were close to the junction.  We wanted to use the water point, and the position of the tap meant that it would be easier if we turned round, so we set off up to Ventnor Farm Marina where we were able to turn before coming back to the water point

Early departure from Norton Junction

Autumn leaves

Norton Junction Water Point

At Buckby Top Lock Hazel started filling the lock while James emptied cassettes and rubbish.  There seemed to be no other boats heading our way, so we started down the locks on our own.

Into Lock 1

Ophelia had made a lot of trees part with their leaves, and they were lying on the ground everywhere.

Leaves left by Ophelia

One field away from the M1

After the lock flight we passed Whilton Marina without a pause as we had no need for their cafe, chandlery or shop.  On the next section there are several interesting historic boats.

Historic boats

On the approach to Weedon we discovered some major works going on, where they appeared to be building a bridge on a sharp bend. Looking online later, it transpired that they were building a bypass for Weedon.

Weedon bypass works

We paused briefly in Weedon, and Hazel paid a visit to Tesco for some items we needed.  Meanwhile James had a look in the weed hatch as the engine had been struggling a bit.  He discovered that the stern gland needed tightening, as a lot of water had dripped in, filling to small compartment at the stern, and overflowing into the engine compartment and the two side compartments. He spent quite a time using a hand pump to empty the engine compartment into the stern section, which was then pumped out by the bilge pump. He tightened up the stern gland, and the dripping stopped. He was still down in the hole when Hazel returned from Tesco.

We continued our journey, and as we passed Rugby Boats at Stowe Hill, we noticed that they were open, despite it being a Tuesday when we thought they were closed. We had enough diesel to get us to Aylesbury, so we didn’t stop.

East of Bridge 33 we passed the Bugbrooke Badger Setts, and we could see that they were very active. One day we’ll stop here and set up our wildlife camera.

We moored opposite the Wharf Inn at Bugbrooke, where we intended to stay for two nights, as heavy rain was forecast all day tomorrow.

7 locks, 9 miles

Wed 18th Oct   Bugbrooke

Autumn leaves on the ground

Despite the very wet forecast, there was hardly any rain!!  We walked to the shop in Bugbrooke, and bought a lettuce, a bottle of milk, and some almond fingers. It came to more than a fiver. There was not much in stock except basics and booze.  We don’t plan to return here.

We took a different route back which took us past the church, which was open. We went inside and signed the visitor’s book, as it was there.

Bugbrooke Church

Inside the church

Moored in Bugbrooke

Tim Crooks came on board in the early evening having driven from his boat in the Barby / Braunston area.  James has known him since they were both 5 and went to the same school. It was good to catch up. We all went to the Wharf Inn opposite for a meal. The food was OK and the service was less than enthusiastic.

With Tim Crooks

No boating today

Thu 19th Oct   Bugbrooke to Stoke Bruerne

We set off early to avoid the rain that was forecast for later in the day. It was misty and damp.

Misty cruising weather

Turnover Bridge by Gayton Junction

We emptied cassettes and rubbish at Gayton Junction, but we didn’t need water. We took down the chimney and the hood in preparation for the tunnel.

Blisworth Marina

 The Mill at Blisworth

Blisworth Tunnel mouth

Ventilation shaft

We only met one boat in the tunnel. It was a cruiser, and it was so keen to keep into the side that the stern was sticking out.  James slowed right down to a standstill, keeping tight in to the side, but still the cruiser stern connected with our bows as they came crabbing towards us. That straightened them up a bit.

Emerging from the tunnel

 Cross section of the restored tunnel

There was plenty of mooring space as we came into Stoke Bruerne, and we moored just before the disabled bollards.  Hugo was keen to explore, and there was a gate into a field just alongside the boat.  A couple with a Dalmatian came along and Hugo was caught off guard in the open. The dog started barking at him, but his owners made no attempt to call him off, or put him on a lead. Hugo stood his ground for a while, but in the end he ran to the boat, and the dog gave chase. The owners laughed. Thankfully Hugo has a good turn of speed.

We walked down to meet Kathryn, and we had a coffee in the museum cafe. The Indian restaurant was closed despite their website saying they would be open, so we went for a light lunch at the Navigation.

Later we explored the woodland walk and visited the stained glass workshop, run by BCF member Martin.

Woodland walk sculptures

 Deer sculptures

The tunnel mouth

Moored in Stoke Bruerne

0 locks, 7 miles

Next: a meal in the Boat Inn  with Allen and Angela, ex Weybridge neighbours, then to Wolverton for a visit to Stony Stratford on Sunday, for church and a folk session.