Sun 24th May
Wolverton to Stoke Bruerne
We all went for a walk to find New Life Church, who meet in a large warehouse. It was encouraging to find a good mixture of ethnic backgrounds and ages. A New Frontiers church. The worship team were very good, but some of the songs we found a bit repetitive. The message was excellently delivered by a lady called Donna, who spoke about Mary the mother of Jesus.
New Life Church, Wolverton
We managed to arrange a lift back for Peter, who finds walking difficult, and the rest of us took a different route through the remains of Old Wolverton, with wonderful buttercups everywhere.
Walking back from church
We set off first, and paused below Cosgrove Lock to fill up with water. We helped with several boat movements while this was happening, and eventually Gospel Belle came up, sharing with another boat, and we shared with Trinity.
On the locks up to Stoke Bruerne we shared with Empress. They were already one lock up, and they waited for us.
Starting up the Stoke Bruerne flight
Sharing with Empress
The moorings were fairly full on 7D moorings two locks down, but there was just space for our three boats. We were moored behind River Wey boat Pompey Chimes but they were not on board.
We all had a lovely meal on Gospel Belle.
6 locks, 7 miles
Mon 25th May
Stoke Bruerne to Long Buckby
We arrived at the first lock to find a boat going up in front of us. It was Teezy, and we shared the top lock together.
Entering the top lock at Stoke Bruerne
Our friend Kathryn came out of her cottage to say hello and push a lock gate.
Kathryn lends a hand
Blisworth Tunnel was wet as usual, but if there are no boats coming you can avoid the worst of the pouring water. This time we were able to get some photos of the calcification in the air vents.
Blisworth Tunnel entrance
Blisworth mill building
Teezy turned off at Gayton Junction, heading for the Fens
Turnover Bridge near Gayton Junction
At Stowe Hill Wharf we noticed that the fuel price was 67p. We saw BCF member Rachel Kerkham on Nomad Dream, which had just been sold. They are moving back to dry land.
We were making very good time, and then, just before Weedon, Pyefleet pulled out in front of us and went very very slowly even when there were no moored boats. This was a very twisty section, so there was no opportunity to pass.
We found Gospel Belle and Trinity at Weedon. The Lins had gone shopping. We stopped a little further on and went to Tesco, hoping this would give Pyefleet a chance to get away.
We were 35 minutes in Tesco, and then set off again
When we arrived at Buckby Locks, Gospel Belle and Trinity were there waiting their turn. Pyefleet had gone before them, sharing with another boat, and had not wanted to open more than one paddle, so it was taking ages.
We decided to wait for a boat to share with. Three boats appeared in the long straight section. The first one went into the marina. The second turned round and went back. The third turned into the marina. At that point some boats came down the flight so we went up and followed the others. We soon caught them up as everyone was going so slowly.
We ended up two locks down, having a barbecue on the towpath with the sound of the M1 close by. Henry’s grandson Jack had joined us.
Sunset by Buckby locks
7 locks, 14 miles, 1 tunnel
Tue 26th May
Buckby to North Kilworth
We set off first up the remaining two locks on our own, with boats coming down first to set the locks. We emptied a cassette and some rubbish at the top lock and proceeded to turn into the Leicester section.
Stephen Carter was coming away from Crick on Chyandour. He phoned us a few minutes later to say he had left his Hozelock fitting on the tap, so we retrieved it for him when we arrived at the foot of the Watford flight where we were second in the queue. We reported to the lock keeper at 0915, and we also registered Gospel Belle and Trinity, and the hire boat that was first in the queue. We topped up with water while we were waiting. There were lots of boats coming down the locks, as the Crick show had just finished. It was 1145 by the time we cleared the top lock, and we counted 14 boats waiting at the top. As we drew away, there were more boats arriving, and Henry counted 20 boats by the time he came through two locks behind us. It would have taken several hours for the last ones in the queue.
Crick Tunnel was also busy, and dripping wet.
Wet drips from Crick Tunnel and Stephen’s Hozelock fitting
There were lots of boats still in position on their allocated moorings, including Sola Gratia (no-one aboard) and Norfolk Belle (BCF). We hadn’t met David and Angela before. Hazel bought some Eco products from them. There were lots of unusual boats including Raymond and Nutfield, a beautifully restored working pair.
Temporary Bridge for the Crick Show
Raymond and Nutfield
Unspoilt countryside. Shallow in places. We saw a yellow hammer. There were lots of places to moor. Amazing fields of rape as well as buttercups.
We stopped at bridge 40, where there was space for three boats. Everyone came on board Gabriel for a meal.
9 locks, 15 miles, 1 tunnel
Wed 27th May
North Kilworth to Foxton
Dawn at North Kilworth
Gospel Belle and Trinity set off before us, as Peter was concerned about his gearbox rattle. We gave them a 20-minute start and set off at 0840. We saw various wild birds including a Greater Spotted Woodpecker, a Reed Bunting, a Kingfisher, and a Bullfinch.
Husbands Bosworth Tunnel
Husbands Bosworth Tunnel was only slightly damp, and we could see from one end to the other.
Hazel had a problem with a tooth and we hunted around for a dentist. We found one eventually in Market Harborough who could see her tomorrow afternoon.
When we arrived at Foxton Locks at 1115, we were in a long queue. Gospel Belle and Trinity were 4th and 5th, and we were 9th. Three boats had come between us in those twenty minutes, and there were three behind us soon afterwards. It took us 2 hours to get to the top of the locks, and 1 hour to get down them. Lots of gongoozlers looking on.
Descending Foxton Locks
We turned right at the bottom, and someone kindly operated the swing bridge for us, as there was nowhere for us to get off and do it ourselves. We met a guy called Malcolm on Santiago. He joined BCF last year.
We moored up on the 14D mooring rings before bridge 3. Trinity and Gospel Belle had gone on to Market Harborough.
10 locks, 8 miles, 1 tunnel