Monday, 16 November 2015

Leighton Buzzard to Aylesbury

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

Autumn glory

We moved through the bridge to the water tap, where the willows could do with a severe cut back.

Dense willow

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

Berry profusion

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

Bridego 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

Wharf Crane

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

 Lock 4 – Black Jacks

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.

Friendly Reeds

Autumn leaves

Autumn light

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


No boating today. We probably won’t be boating again until after Easter 2016. Hence this blog will be on an occasional basis until then.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Wolverton to Leighton Buzzard

Mon 19th October

Old Wolverton to Stantonbury Park

Some chaps from CRT came to take away their barges of rubbish. There had been a canal clean-up just before we arrived. We offered to move out of their way but they said it wasn’t necessary. Then they set off and as they went their dumb barge bumped against our new paintwork. Oh well! There will be other knocks and scratches in due course.

We left for the short cruise to the Wolverton moorings, past the old sheds where they used to build railways engines and carriages, and then under the original Brunel railway bridge.
Wolverton Railway Sheds

Brunel railway bridge

We moored on the mooring rings by the new development of apartments. While we were there, who should arrive but Tane Mahuta?  Gael needed to go somewhere by train, and the station is very close to these moorings.

Railwayman Sculpture

Moored at Wolverton with Tane Mahuta

We walked over the bridge to visit the nearby shops, before returning and setting off once more.  There were glorious autumn colours in the bushes and trees. We moored as far away from houses as possible, near the ruined St Peters Church, opposite Stantonbury Park.  Hugo was pleased to be able to explore without people or dogs to worry about. 

Autumn Colours

Sunshine and stormy skies at Stantonbury Park

0 locks, 3 miles

Tue 20th October

Stantonbury Park to Giffard Park

So there we were enjoying a peaceful morning, when around the corner on the towpath came a team of men wearing high viz jackets wielding lawnmowers and strimmers.  Knowing what a mess they can make of the boat side, we decided to make a hurried departure before they drew level.

This is where the Newport Pagnell branch used to join

We didn’t have far to go, as we stopped at Giffard Park, where we had to use our chain, hooked onto an iron rod in the crumbling reinforced concrete.

We were close enough to fill our water tank, with the help of a long hose from the boat that was waiting on the water point for others to join them.

We went to have a look at bus stops for a shopping trip tomorrow. There were some more lovely autumn colours.  We also found a Rohan shop, where Hazel bought a pair of waterproof trousers.

Autumn colours

The afternoon was pleasantly dry, and James took the opportunity to paint the port side gunwales, as the bank was low and it was easy to reach the necessary areas. The Hempel Multicoat mixed with some Owatrol seemed to work nicely, except there were some thin patches where the raddle black had rubbed of earlier.

People always come and talk when you are working on the boat and today was no exception. Paul and his dog came past twice. He is from a boat called Yarmouth, originally built in 1914.

We had a meal in the pub.

 Moored at Giffard Park

0 locks, 1 mile

Wed 21st October

Giffard Park

Rain was forecast, so we took bus no 2 to Central Milton Keynes where we had a meal in a buffet restaurant, before visiting one or two shops.  We went to the cinema to see Transylvanian Hotel 2. What else do you do on a wet day?

Bus back to the boat. This is a good mooring place to connect with the bus system.

Plenty of shops – lots of choice

No boating today

Thu 22nd October

Giffard Park to Peartree Bridge

James first touched up the thin patches on the paintwork.  While he was doing this he ended up chatting to a man who turned out to be a fireman.  Paul also came past again.

Also a CRT man with a mobile notepad device came to take our number.  He said that if we asked CRT they would give us a list all the recorded sightings of our boat. Not that we need it – we know where we have been!

Before we left we emptied our cassettes and rubbish, and then went on a gentle cruise further south round Milton Keynes.  Again there were beautiful autumn colours. 

We moored on the visitor mooring rings near Peartree Bridge.

James went for a walk and came across Tudor on Out and About; last seen in Ellesmere last year.  Tudor joined him on the walk, and they both got lost attempting to go round in a circle.  They asked a native and finally found their way back in the dark.

Near Peartree Bridge

0 locks, 4 miles

Fri 23rd October

Peartree Bridge to Leighton Buzzard

We went for breakfast at the carvery. It looked closed from the canal, but we found another door round the corner.  They could do with a notice on the door facing the canal. The breakfast was good value - £3.99, eat as much as you like.

We then thought it was time to leave Milton Keynes, and continued our journey south. We passed Tudor on his boat, plus a boat that had burnt out – possibly a fraudulent insurance claim.
Out and About

Tudor on Out and About

Burnt out boat

At Fenny Stratford lock we found a hire boat and we shared the lock and swing bridge with them. Stoke Hammond Lock we negotiated on our own, and just as we were reaching the top, another boat appeared below.  We agreed to go slowly and share the next locks with them.

 Stoke Hammond Lock

We enjoyed a dawdling cruise along the Stoke Hammond pound, where we might have stopped for the night, but the next day was forecast wet, and we wanted to be in Leighton Buzzard for church on Sunday.

The other boat caught up at Three Locks. It was very colourful, having been painted by a street artist.  It was called Electra, although the word “Gloopy” was written in big letters along the side. Tom and Sarah were the pleasant young couple who lived on board.

Three locks with Electra

Globe Inn at Linslade

We moored just above Leighton Lock, which turned out to be very pleasant. Every time the lock was used, the boat bumped against the side, so we put out the tyre fenders we keep for such occasions, and the problem was solved.

5 locks, 9 miles

Sat 24th October

Leighton Buzzard

We walked across the meadows and along the river bank to Leighton Buzzard for a bit of mild shopping on an overcast day.  We bought some special drill bits from Homebase.

Back at the boat, James attempted to drill some ventilation holes in the side of the bed, to avoid the condensation we had last winter.  The wood was extremely hard, and the drill bits were causing smoke to rise from the holes. DIY is usually a disaster when James has a go.  Instead of the twenty-one holes we had planned on each side, we ended up with achieving three.  Oh well, just thirty-six more to do!

Autumn leaf

No boating today

Sun 25th October

Leighton Buzzard

We walked to the Baptist Church at the top of the High Street. This was well attended, with a good cross section of ages. The worship band was up on a balcony by the organ pipes.

Hockliffe Street Baptist Church

After the service we went for lunch at Wetherspoons – always good value.  After that we wandered back to the boat via Aldi, Wilko, and Tesco.  We saw Robbie going past on Naughty Lass.

Moored by Leighton Lock

That night there were owls in the trees by our boat, and there was a full moon.

No boating today

Next week: The final leg of our journey back to Aylesbury