Mon 26th October
Leighton Buzzard to Slapton
We moved up to the visitor moorings and did some shopping in Homebase, Aldi and Tesco. The length of stay here is 2 hours – not enough to go up into the High Street. The ducks are well fed here, and there are always lots of them.
Leighton Buzzard ducks
We moved through the bridge to the water tap, where the willows could do with a severe cut back.
One the way out of Leighton Buzzard towards Grove Lock, there are some old coal wharves, one of which still has rails on.
Old coal wharf
Approaching Grove Lock
The next lock is Church Lock, where we were hoping to moor for a short while, to visit Pendle level crossing where the train robbers boarded the train. However, there are only about six spaces here, and they always seem to be occupied.
Waiting for Church Lock
We moved on to Slapton, near bridge 118, where the second train robbery site is located.
Train robbery map
Moored near Slapton
Train Robbers Bridge
It seems that Bridego Bridge was renamed Train Robbers Bridge, and then renamed again as Mentmore Bridge. Someone probably knows the reason why.
We found a damson tree laden with ripe damsons. So James took our landing net and a boat hook and we had stewed damsons for supper. There is something very satisfactory about acquiring free food!
2 locks, 3 miles
Tue 27th October
Slapton to Marsworth
As we set off this morning, we passed a Leighton Buzzard hire boat who were preparing to cast off. We said we would wait at Slapton lock for them. We shared Slapton, Horton, and the two Ivinghoe Locks with them, and then they stopped for lunch.
Sharing Horton Lock with Sapphire
We were then left to complete the remaining five locks on our own. We saw our first red kite for a while. We had one low pound to contend with.
Seabrook Bottom Lock 34
Seabrook Middle Lock 35
Lock 38 Marsworth
We moored in the sunshine on rings between bridges 129 and 130, where the sun was shining, so Hazel put out some washing. James pruned back a very low overhanging tree.
9 locks, 4 miles, 1 swing bridge
Wed 28th October
Marsworth to Puttenham
We found the remains of a mouse this morning. Hugo had been active in the night.
A lot of boats seem to have a statue of Buddha on the roof. We guess that this is because they are easily available in shops and garden centres as an ornament. It does not necessarily mean that the boat owners are Buddhists.
A highly decorated boat near Marsworth
At Marsworth Junction we paused to fill the water tank and empty cassettes. We discovered that there were some new homes completed since our last visit earlier this year. They were very close to the mooring rings, and had large wooden doors, bolted on the outside, which we thought might be a fire hazard. They were also cheaply built and not in keeping with the old wharf. Sadly, a missed opportunity for some decent canalside properties.
Ugly homes at Marsworth Junction
From here it was a few yards to the entrance of the Aylesbury Arm, the final part of this year’s cruise.
Approaching lock 1, Aylesbury Arm
The locks on the Aylesbury Arm do not have the usual plank attached to the gates to enable you to cross from one side to the other when one gate is open. Instead you have to walk round, or use a boat hook to push or pull the gates. James found a piece of wood by one lock, and lifted it to find a small bank vole running around.
Narrow locks once more (lock 5)
Moored above lock 12 at Puttenham
We found a mooring above lock 12, backing on to the colossal new dairy. The bank was quite high, and we had to step up from the boat to the shore. Perhaps the pound was low.
Hugo caught a mouse within half an hour, bringing today’s team tally to three.
11 locks, 3 miles, 3 mice
Thu 29th October
Puttenham to Aylesbury
We set off early as it was forecast wet later. We sent a text to Bryan at the canal basin with our revised arrival time.
There were a lot of leaves in the water, and more continually falling from the trees as we went along. We saw some great wildlife on this final day. Two kingfishers, a green woodpecker, several herons, and five snipe. There was a pair of snipe here last year, so this was presumably the same two with their new family.
When we arrived at the basin, Bryan was there raising the lift bridge for us. It was good to see him. We found a temporary mooring, against two other boats. We were told there would a reshuffle at the weekend when there was a changeover in the dry dock.
Bryan and his cat
3 locks, 2 miles, 1 lift bridge
Fri 30th October
There was some work due to take place on some of the locks in the Aylesbury Arm, starting on Monday. As we set off to catch a bus into town, we discovered that a work barge was about to be craned in at Circusfield Basin. This had needed some more boat shuffling to make space for it.
Work barge for fixing locks
Preparing to crane in