Thursday, 10 May 2018

Stoke Bruerne to Braunston

Wed 9th May  Stoke Bruerne to Nether Heyford

We shared the final two locks with a hire boat called Cotswold. They were intending to stop for a coffee at the top, so they moored on the bollards, while we went past Misty Morn and Ichthus and moored on the piling.

Kathryn was just finishing adjusting the halyards on the flagpole, and we went into her cottage for a drink in her basement kitchen. Among other snippets of conversation she gave us a recommendation for a boat painter in Weedon. It will be two years hence, but these guys have long waiting lists.

Having said our goodbyes to Kathryn (until October, when we pass through again), we said more goodbyes to Chris (Misty Morn), who was delighted to learn that no wide boats are scheduled for the tunnel tomorrow morning, as he wants to go through at 7.30am.

Hazel and Kathryn

We made our preparations for the tunnel, including wearing waterproof gear, and putting our tunnel light in place in the flagpole socket in the bows. We set off ahead of another boat that was coming up behind from the locks, but as we rounded a corner, there was another boat turning in the winding hole, and he set off into the tunnel in front of us.  James didn’t want to follow behind another boat, especially with another boat behind us, so he pulled in to the side, and waved on the one behind, which was called Longships. We have seen him a few times over the recent two or three days.  So Longships went into the tunnel, and we waited for about 7 minutes before going in ourselves. 

Blisworth Tunnel

When we were halfway through, we realised that we catching up with Longships, who appeared to be almost stationary, although the lack of light plays tricks.  We stopped for another ten minutes, waiting for him to get away.  We moved on when we realised that another boat had come in behind us. This tunnel is usually a little wet, but today it was very wet, with water cascading down from the ventilation shafts and leaking through the brickwork.  By the time we emerged from the tunnel, we had caught up again with Longships.  Just after Blisworth village he beckoned us past.



18 miles to Braunston

Arriving at Gayton Junction, we turned right to use the facilities, but we saw that the rubbish bins were overflowing, and the elsan point was closed off. Kathryn had told us that someone had emptied used engine oil into the chemical toilet disposal, and specialists had been called in to clean the system.  There were also two more boats waiting, so we abandoned the plan, and moved on further.

We found Sacre Blurr moored up, but with no-one aboard.

Sacre Blurr

Just past the junction there is a good example of a turnover bridge, designed so that towing horses don’t need to unhitch when the towpath crosses to the other side of the canal.

Turnover bridge

Some interesting clouds today

We went past Bugbrooke and moored at Nether Heyford, as far from the busy train line as we could.  We walked into the village, which has lovely mellow stone and thatched buildings. We visited the butchers, and the One-Stop store for some essential things and wandered back to the boat.

Moored at Nether Heyford

We put up the hood as the wind was picking up and rain was forecast.

2 locks, 9 miles

Thu 10th May  Nether Heyford to Long Buckby

This morning started chilly and windy.  Just as we were about to leave, a boat came past. We let them go, as we had several stopping places today and the first one was only a few minutes away.  We saw Longships just round the corner.


It used to be called Spiderworx, but is now just a one-man operation. We met Colin Dundas, and he showed us his workshop and the boat he was painting.  First class workmanship, and a really high gloss finish. Phil Speight was also there, the most well known traditional sign writer around. We had never met him before, but we have seen his books and read articles about him. 

The next stop was at Rugby Boats for some diesel, and while we were there, Tony went by on Euston 73, from Aylesbury.

Euston 73

Then on to Weedon, where we stopped again and found Steve, a boat painter recommended by Kathryn. His results looked tougher and more durable. We have to decide soon to ensure a place on his waiting list.

This canalside effigy resembles a friend from our previous church

A new meaning for the term “Container Ship”

We paused again at Whilton Locks, where we met up with Tim on Willowbrook. He was waiting for Hilary to return by bus train and taxi from Aylesbury.  We said we would wait also, and we could share the Buckby locks together.

Sharing Buckby Locks with Willowbrook

One of the longer pounds

Lock 9

Hilary, Tim, Hazel

We moored at Long Buckby, with one lock left to do tomorrow.  The weather had changed from cold and windy to warm and pleasant.  We sat out in the sunshine with wines and nibbles (as you do).  Hugo wanted to join us, but when he discovered that Tim and Hilary’s spaniel was included in the group, he changed his mind and ran back to the boat.

Long Buckby mooring

Enjoying the sunshine

6 locks, 6 miles

Fri 11th May  Long Buckby to Braunston

We had agreed a departure time of 9am with Tim and Hilary, and we set off through the final lock of the Buckby flight. It was a lot cooler.

At the top, Willowbrook needed water, and we emptied two cassettes and our rubbish.  We disappointed to see the following signs

No recycling

Nearest recycling centre

These facilities are meant to be for boaters. What boater is going to walk 4.6 miles to dispose of their recycling? Sadly our carefully separated sackful joined the rest of the rubbish. There have been no recycling facilities for boaters since we left Aylesbury.

We moved on past Norton Junction, where a branch leads off to the right to Leicester and the River Soar.

Norton Junction

Just past the next bridge (Bridge 10) there used to be our favourite mooring in this area.  There were mooring rings, and a lovely view, and we were beyond the noise of the M1, the A5 and the railway. For several years now the bank has been deteriorating, and there is orange plastic netting to keep boats away, so we can’t moor there.

Orange netting

The view opposite

We continued on for two miles to Braunston Tunnel.  Thankfully this one is dry, but there is a kink in the middle where the builders had started from both ends and didn’t quite line up accurately at the join.  Today we met no boats so we made good time.

Braunston Tunnel

Leaving the tunnel

As we left, there was a boat coming the other way, and they met Willowbrook who were still in the tunnel.  The Braunston locks were busy to start with, with boats coming up towards us as we went down.  The final three locks we had to fill.

Sharing Braunston Locks with Willowbrook

Lock 3

As we cruised gently through Braunston we discovered that almost all of the visitor moorings were full.  We went past the Stophouse, and under the A45 before we found somewhere. The mooring rings were badly spaced so we ended up with ropes at strange angles to keep us secure.

Moored in Braunston

Close to the A45

Mark drove up from Aylesbury to find us, with some documents for us to sign. Just after he left, Jan and John Halford arrived on Jubilee and moored some way further on.  They came on board Gabriel for tea before we all went across to the Boathouse pub for a meal. John and Gillian Speight joined us and it was good to get to know them a little better. They have a new boat called Faithful, moored in a new marina on the North Oxford Canal. We will pass it on Monday.

John and Jan on board Gabriel

The BCF gathering at the Boathouse (Borrowed from Jubilee’s blog)
L-R Hazel, James, Gill Speight, John Halford, Jan Halford, John Speight

7 locks, 5 miles.

Next:  Breakfast at the Gongoozlers rest with Time and Hilary, Church at All Saints, Braunston on Sunday, then a cruise up the North Oxford through Rugby to the Coventry Canal

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