Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Cowroast to Aylesbury

Fri 28th Oct  Cowroast to Bulbourne

Moored at Cowroast

We set off for our short cruise through the cutting in lovely sunshine and with beautiful autumn colours everywhere.  At one point the towpath changes sides, crossing over Bridge 134, a massive bridge built across the cutting.

Autumn on Tring Summit

Bridge 134

Bulbourne workshops

We arrived at Bulbourne where we found some mooring rings. They were on a steep bank, so we put out the plank so that we didn’t slip in the dark (especially returning from the pub!).

We walked to College Lake nature reserve where we had a pleasant time looking at Widgeon and Tufted Ducks, as well as some lovely autumn bushes.

College Lake reserve

Old Man’s beard

Golden leaves

We had tea in the cafe and then walked back to the boat.  When we were back on board we realised that Hazel had lost one of the protective plastic lens caps from her pair of binoculars.  She retraced her steps back to the road, but there was no sign. She reported it missing to the staff at the reserve.

0 locks, 2 miles.

Sat 29th Oct  Bulbourne

We walked back to College Lake hoping to find the lost binocular cap.  We went first to the reception area, but it had not been handed in. We then went to the main hide and looked where we had been sitting – no success.  We then walked down to the lower hide, and again there was no sign. On the way back we met Brian, the guy we had spoken to by the reservoirs three days earlier. We exchanged sightings as you do, and then we told him we were hunting for the lens cap. “Well, aren’t you the lucky ones?” he said. He had found it earlier as he was a volunteer and was collecting rubbish from the paths and hides.  So we accompanied him to the volunteers hut, and retrieved it.  Brilliant.  Answered prayer.

College lake again

 Fallen leaves

Back at the boat, another narrowboat pulled in and moored just in front of us.  In chatting, James mentioned that they needed to book if they wanted to eat in the pub tonight. They had a booking, they said. They were Aylesbury Canal Society moorers whom we had not previously met - Tony and Sue on Euston 73

Later we all went for a meal at the Grand Junction Arms, about 20 of us. The food was excellent, much improved from the basic pub menu that James had experienced here in 2000.

No boating today

Sun 30th Oct  Bulbourne to Black Jacks

The clocks changed this morning

Barnabas went past very early. We found out later that they needed to get the boat back to Aylesbury and then drive to the West Country by this evening.

We set off with Euston 73 and headed for the top lock.  Euston was already in and they had discovered that there was a very low pound. Barnabas had run some water down and was one or two locks down.   Hazel was about to bring Gabriel into the lock when a CRT man turned up and said “You can’t go in there. I need to run some water down.”  We pointed out that the lock was full, the gates were open, Euston was already in there, and if we shared the lock, then we would be delivering a lock full into the next pound. He reluctantly agreed to let us through, but as soon as we closed the top gates, he padlocked them. He made us wait in the next pound for 30 minutes while he opened a paddle on each set of gates for the next few locks.

Into the top lock

 Top gates padlocked

Waiting in the pound

Eventually we were allowed to move on down the lock flight, with lovely views of the reservoirs.  Halfway down we met Warren on the Pumpout Boat coming up. We last saw him at the Rickmansworth Festival in 2014.

Marsworth Reservoir

Warren on the Pumpout Boat

Sharing with Euston 73

A misty cruise past the reservoirs

Euston 73 heads for Aylesbury

Tony and Sue turned off at Marsworth Junction, while we moved on to the water point and elsan.  It is a pity that the elsan in this new facility is tucked in a corner making it difficult to use.  It is also a shame that the new residents who have moved in have successfully had the pumpout closed down, and they have put up “private” notices on the mooring rings for the facilities.  The houses have been built too close to the boaters facilities.

Elsan in a corner

 Private sign

The water point moorings

While we were filling up with water we heard the sound of church bells coming from All Saints Church in Marsworth. We realised that we just about had time to get to the service. We had abandoned the idea of getting to church today as there is no church in Bulbourne.

We quickly moved on through Bridge 131 and found a place to moor using our mooring spikes. We walked as quickly as we could up the hill to the church, where we arrived just on 1030am.  As we sat down they were just going through the notices.

Marsworth All Saints

It was a traditional service, with a robed choir and sung responses for communion. We had some pleasant conversations over coffee afterwards and two ladies wanted our contact details.  We went to the Red Lion for lunch, where found some decent cider.

Red Lion

Our hasty mooring in Marsworth

We had to reverse round a corner past moored boats and through a bridge, but it is amazing how helpful a bow thruster is in situations like this.  We then headed west down the Aylesbury Arm.

Lock 1, Aylesbury Arm

Down the staircase pair

Locks 3 and 4 were already full from water flowing down and over the top gates. Lock 4, also known as Black Jack’s Lock, was beautiful with autumn colours, and we could see the two owners of the cottage working away in their lovely garden.

Autumn colours at Black Jack’s Lock

Fallen leaves

We found Juniper moored up (Graham and Sara) and we decided to stay there as well. There was piling, a good view, and we could get properly into the side.

Moored with Juniper

Three other boats joined us later on.

11 locks, 2 miles

Mon 31st October  Black Jack’s Lock to Aylesbury

Juniper left early, before we were properly up.  Our final day was misty to start with, but soon turned into a lovely sunny blue sky day.

Misty morning

Gulls flying overhead

We had a bit to do so we started with a cooked breakfast, so we wouldn’t need lunch. We had found out from Bryan that we were going to be moored where we were last year, i.e. not alongside a pontoon, but stern on.  This means that we can’t get at the sides of the boat without moving, so we decided to clean the roof and sides, and the bow well. 

We began with the bow well, putting the mats on the bank while we scrubbed the deck. We then took everything off the roof and stowed the bags of coal in the front.  The roof was a bit messy under the pallet, so it was scrubbed from bows to stern.

Clearing things off the roof

Grubbiness revealed

A clean roof

It was midday before we set off, with most of the locks against us. No boats had passed either way since Juniper had left.

It was a glorious day to finish our cruise for the year. Autumn colours everywhere, and colourful berries and seed pods on the bushes.

Seed pods

Red berries 

Wooden boats at Bates Yard


As well as ladybirds all over the locks there were unseasonal flying ants, and money spiders dropping onto us (apparently from high up almost into space).  We collected some late damsons at one point, and saw a deer in a field.  Some cows found us very interesting.

They don’t see many boats around here

We noticed that the building work had been progressing well, with some new houses apparently finished and occupied since we had left. We passed our apartment but we didn’t see our tenant.

We had sent a text to Bryan, giving him our ETA, and he was ready with the lift bridge raised as we arrived at the Canal Society basin. He had also brought out the small ramp we need to access the boat via the stern.

Looking clean in Aylesbury

Back where we started.

Hugo steps ashore

10 locks, 5 miles

So that’s it for this year.   We have gone through 513 locks, travelled 858 miles, opened and closed 109 swing or lift bridges and steered through 11 tunnels.  There may not be much blogging for a while.  We need to collect our car from Suffolk, practice some worship songs for the BCF AGM on 12th November, and Broughton Church on 13th November. Then there are doctors, dentist, and optician’s appointments, boat engineers, folk clubs, a carol concert at Byfleet Boat Club and before we know it, Christmas will be upon us!!