Wed 14th October
Norton Junction to Weedon
View from moorings at Bridge 10
Holes in the mooring
We left the run-down mooring at Bridge 10, and cruised slowly to the top lock, where we disposed of rubbish, and emptied a cassette.
We shared the first lock with Tane Mahuta, with Gael and Gillie in charge. This is a shared ownership boat, and Gael (the guy) and Gillie (the lady) are BCF members. They had their daughter with them, and they needed to wait after the lock while she parked her car properly. We waited too, as we prefer to share locks wherever possible, and we were not in a hurry.
Sharing with Tane Mahuta
Plenty of water
We worked well as a team down the remaining six locks. They paused at Whilton Marina, and we carried on, past the very noisy M1, and we moored in Weedon, on rings just before bridge 24, where we picked up a doormat on our propeller.
Doormat on prop
We had a very pleasant meal in an Indian Restaurant called Brinjol.
7 locks, 4 miles.
Thu 15th October
Weedon to Nether Heyford
It was cloudy this morning, but thankfully no rain was forecast. After a brief visit to Tesco for milk and bread, we cruised for less than a mile before arriving at Stowe Hill Wharf, where Rugby Boats sell some of the cheapest diesel in the area – 59.9p per litre.
Just as we were leaving there, a heavy shower defied the dry forecast, and we put up our canopy. We moored another mile further on, after bridge 29. Who wants to cruise in the rain?
Tane Mahuta obviously thought differently, as they came past a little later.
The rain stopped in the afternoon, and James went for a walk into nearby Nether Heyford. This place does not feature in the first mate guide, although it has a One-Stop, with post office incorporated. There is also a baker’s and a butcher’s, and a hairdresser. The little church was open and quaint, and there were what appeared to be mud walls topped with tiles near the churchyard.
Nether Heyford map
Church in Nether Heyford
Ancient mud walls in Nether Heyford
0 locks, 2 miles
Fri 16th October
Nether Heyford to Stoke Bruerne
Moored near Nether Heyford
Another cloudy day greeted us this morning as we left our mooring, heading for Stoke Bruerne. As we passed the badger setts near Bugbrooke, we noticed that they were very much in use, with fresh earth spilling onto the towpath. We also saw a sparrow hawk flying fast along the hedge towards us, and making a skilful turn into a bush where we heard a lot of squawking. We guessed that the sparrow population had just declined by one.
We overtook a very slow boat after Bugbrooke, but as soon as had we done so, he put on speed. We were still faster on open stretches, but he gained on us when we slowed down for moored boats and fishermen.
We paused at Gayton Junction to empty two cassettes and dispose of rubbish. We decided not to fill the water tank.
Fungi in Blisworth
Mill building in Blisworth
In Blisworth we found Tane Mahuta just about to leave a mooring. They waited for us to pass, and then followed us towards Blisworth Tunnel. We noticed two guys at the tunnel entrance who were taking photos. We managed to avoid the worst of the wet places in the tunnel this time – we are getting to know where they are!
Leaving Blisworth Tunnel
We moored on the 48H moorings, where we found the same two guys who had come over the hill by car. It turned out that they were Christians from a church at Yaxley on the fens, and they were very interested in what canal Ministries was all about. Yaxley is impossible to reach due to Bevills leam sluice, which has no lock, and a very low bridge on another section. They were campaigning to have a few alterations made, so that boaters could reach their village.
We waved to Mike on the trip boat and wandered down towards the locks, where we found Kathryn chatting to Alan on a fuel boat. We walked with her back towards the tunnel, where we met CRT man Rob, who was painting some beams, to be used for an information display panel. We had met him before, when we were waiting for a wide beam boat to emerge from the tunnel.
We walked back through the woodland walk, where Kathryn showed us more of these display board sites. We also spotted what appeared to be a large puff ball in a field, but there was no way in to reach it. It turns out that the field belongs to CRT.
We returned to Kathryn’s cottage, where we collected the paint that had arrived.
Back on the boat we had a go at making an online booking for our train tickets to Suffolk. Although we had a good internet signal, James could not get a phone signal, which we needed to receive a text regarding our booking. James went up on deck, then along the path towards the locks, then across the canal, and up the hill to the church. Then through the churchyard and out of the village and through a field to the crest of the hill. Still no signal. Giving up, he returned to the boat, where he found that Hazel had a signal, had completed the train booking, and had tried to phone James. She had received the message that James’ phone was switched off! James switched off his phone, and switched it back on again, and found a signal straight away. Grrr!
We went to the Indian restaurant and ordered some food to take away, which we took round to Kathryn’s for a pleasant evening meal.
Spice of Bruerne
9 miles, 1 tunnel
Sat 17th October
Stoke Bruerne to Wolverton
We cruised down to one of the coal boats, and took two bags of Homefire Ovals. We had arranged this with Ryland, whom we had met last night, and we left the money with Kathryn.
Stoke Bruerne Top Lock
Sumac trees at the second lock down
We shared the top two locks with another boat, and were expecting to share the remaining five locks with them. However, as we passed some moored boats in the long pound, one pulled out between our two boats. We discovered that another boat was in the next lock waiting to share with someone, so we joined them. It was Robbie on a boat called Naughty Lass. The one that had pulled out shared with the boat we had shared with in the first two locks. They were followed by Alan and Roland on the two coal boats.
Sharing with Naughty Lass
We paused at the bottom of the locks to fill the water tank, and empty cassettes and rubbish. The next three boats did the same. We were away before the coal boats emerged.
As we moved on past Grafton Regis, we saw two pheasants in a field. That is not very unusual, except that one of them was white! We also saw some partridges, which we don’t see often.
Looking down on the Great Ouse
At Cosgrove there was a boat at the facilities block, and they were putting away their hose. We established that they were going through the lock, and we said we would wait for them. By the time we had filled the lock and opened the gates they were ready to join us. In conversation we learned that they were heading for the same mooring as us, opposite the Galleon. They planned to leave their boat for ten days, which we thought was a bit unreasonable, as there is only room for five boats, and the moorings are very popular. Their boat was 70 ft.
When we arrived, there was only room for us, and we just managed to fit in between two CRT work barges. Our boat is 59ft. We noticed that the moorings were marked as 48H, so if they had stayed, they would have been ignoring the rules. They moved on through two bridges, and moored up somewhere more sensible.
As we had been crossing the aqueduct, a group of people had been excited to see our boat with BCF on the front, and they came to talk to us. They were Christians from local churches, and they had been doing a “treasure hunt”. The idea is that they gather together to pray and seek inspiration about people to look for and pray with, and they make a list, e.g. man with a brown coat, lady with a small dog etc. They then find these people and offer to pray with them. They had spoken to a man on a boat called Saisons, and he had suggested they look for a boat with BCF on it. Five minutes later we appeared.
It was good to see the churches working together and they prayed for healing for James’ back. Two of the group were from New Life Church, and we told them we were heading their way in the morning.
Wolverton with the group of Christians
As we have been disposing of the ash from our stove, we have noticed that it looks the colour of brick dust. We are still on Supertherm, and we are using about a hod full every day.
The coal boats arrived and turned, and moored outside the Galleon for the night.
Heavy rain arrived late afternoon.
8 locks, 6 miles
Sun 18th October
We walked across meadows in wet grass to get to New Life Church, which we had had visited earlier in the year with Peter and Lin and Henry and Lin. The message was about Joseph in prison, and how he had maintained his integrity and gained respect from his fellow prisoners and prison officers
New Life Church
The worship was excellent, and there was a time of prayer for healing.
We refrained from our usual search for Sunday lunch, as we had some shepherds pie to finish.
Moored at Old Wolverton
The ash from our fire, using Supertherm at present, is very red, looking like brick dust. We'll try to take a pic of the ash from Homefire Ovals to compare later.
No boating today