Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Marsworth to Aylesbury

Tue 14th September  Marsworth to Puttenham

The wet weather that was forecast arrived in the small hours. Chris and Gill had to get back today, so they left on Eulalie despite the rain. We stayed put and watched the rain get heavier. We were hoping it would give our boat a good wash, but later we found that dirt from the towpath had been thrown up onto the side of the boat by the force of the rain.

Rainy morning in Marsworth

Wet boat

By early afternoon it had stopped, so we decided to leave. We paused first at the sanitary station to empty a cassette and rubbish, before starting down the Aylesbury Arm.

Marsworth facilities

Into the Aylesbury Arm

The staircase locks and lock 3 were in a sorry state with worn out beams and wobbly paddle gear. We checked online later and saw that they are to have new gates fitted in November. The top gate has two handrails, and the one on the inside of the lock is fitted with bolts that scrape the boats paintwork if you are not careful. We warn people about this, but many have probably suffered damage. Hopefully, this problem will go away if they do it right. Two handrails are not necessary.

The top gate, with the unnecessary and unwanted handrail on the left.

Starting down the staircase

Derelict paddle gear at Lock 3

A missing step at Lock 3

Lock 4 is Black Jack’s Lock, and we often compliment the people in the cottage there about their garden, which is always beautiful.

Acer in the garden at Black Jack’s.

There were several boats moored below this and the next lock, and a few more at Wilstone. Thankfully there was a space for us at Puttenham Lock 10, where we had planned to stop for the day.

There are damson trees here – free food!

Country view at Puttenham

9 locks, 2 miles.

Apart from Eulalie and a hire boat first thing this morning, we have seen no other boats moving today. No-one came past the boat after we had moored, except one cyclist at dusk.

Wed 15th September  Puttenham to Aylesbury

After a cloudy start we had a warm and sunny day.

Most of the locks from here on down need to be left with a bottom paddle open, so they were all against us. In the second lock of the day, we washed the starboard side of the boat, as we won’t be able to reach it easily when we are in the canal basin. It was very dirty from the heavy rain bouncing off the muddy towpath at Marsworth.

Dirty boat

Puttenham Bottom Lock 11

Autumn Colours: Virginia Creeper

After Buckland Lock, which only had one paddle working at each end, we saw our church boat
Beacon coming towards us. Eric and Norma were in charge, with some guests from our apartments, including John and Ruzenka. It looked as though they were all enjoying themselves, and they were heading for Wilstone for lunch in the Half Moon. As we passed, we handed over some copies of “How Do Locks Work?”

Beacon on an outing

At Red House Lock there was a huge lorry going across the canal bridge.

The very reedy narrow section

Bridge 11 is still original, with no graffiti!

We used our secateurs a lot, as there were brambles sticking out near the bridges. We noticed more new buildings across the fields, as Aylesbury grows. As we approached our destination, we rang Bryan, who kindly came to raise the lift bridge for us. We filled up with diesel before squeezing down a channel between boats to our berth for the winter.

New housing

The entrance to the Canal Basin

Bryan opened the lift bridge for us

Squeezing back to our berth.

Moored for the winter

We left a lot of the unpacking until tomorrow. James started the car (first time) and went to get petrol, and pump the tyres up. He also tried to go to the car wash, but the road was one way out due to road works, and he couldn’t find the way in! Tomorrow…….

Later we ordered a Chinese meal, and from our balcony we saw Beacon return to the canal basin.

5 locks, 4 miles, 1 lift bridge. Dep 0915, arr 1205

Totals for 2021:

305 locks, 431 miles, 15 swing or lift bridges, 4 tunnels.

Next: back to our “other” life, with a worship team meeting tomorrow, a Canal Society social on Saturday, church on Sunday etc. Next blog will be when we go boating again, date as yet unknown.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Cosgrove to Marsworth

Sat 11th September  Cosgrove to Campbell Park

Thankfully the Canada Geese did not disturb us. We dried off the hood before putting it down, as we had had a little rain in the night.

We paused at the facilities to empty a cassette, before proceeding to Cosgrove Lock, by the junction with the Buckingham Arm, now proudly calling itself the Buckingham Canal. CanalPlan calls this the Old Stratford Arm.

Buckingham Canal Junction

Cosgrove Lock

Below the lock is a water tap, inconveniently place on the lock bollards, which are also opposite a winding hole. Not a lot of planning here.

Boat on the water tap.

The straight mile from here is always very slow, with boats moored on both sides including a few widebeams. We had to wait for a boat to come across the aqueduct and through a narrow gap. After the aqueduct and the road bridge, there are lots of boats moored opposite some overgrown bushes, making more narrow gaps.

Patiently waiting

Across the aqueduct

Restricted passage

Arriving at Wolverton, we had a reminder of the local industrial history, with the original Stephenson’s railway bridge, and some railway wheels on show in the village.

Stephenson’s Railway Bridge

Wolverton industrial memorabilia

James had his watch strap repaired, and we visited Tesco, where it was unsettling to see Christmas produce on display. We noticed that there is now a new Lidl next door to Tesco.

Christmas already!

Moored in Wolverton.

As we set off once more, we gave Chris and Sally an estimated time of arrival of 1450, based on three miles per hour. We went past the fascinating mural depicting the various carriages and engines manufactured at Wolverton.

A video of the railway mural

We crossed the Grafton Street Aqueduct over a busy dual carriageway. It is hard to imagine what this would have been like years ago.

Grafton Street Aqueduct

There were two occasions when we had to stop and wait, or even go into reverse to let another boat through. There were lots of moored boats, which meant that we were on tickover for much of the time. This put an extra ten minutes onto our estimate.

Boats moored where would never have moored a few years ago

An unusual cat

The pond at Great Linford used to be surrounded by bushes and trees, and inhabited by all sorts of wildlife. It seems they are turning it into a concrete ornamental pond, looking very sterile and artificial.

The pond at Great Linford

We arrived at Campbell Park, and were pleased to see that we had a mooring next to Kairos. There was a sign to say the moorings were reserved for a trip boat on Sunday 11th September. Today is Saturday 11th, and tomorrow is Sunday 12th, so the sign is wrong. Thankfully it is meant to say Sunday 12th.

There was a pride event going on in Milton Keynes, and we could hear the music coming from somewhere further into the park. We also heard the Red Arrows doing a flypast, but we couldn't see them because of the poplar trees.

We enjoyed a barbecue with Chris and Sally. It was great to see them again.

Arrival at Campbell Park

Bows to bows with Kairos

BBQ with Chris and Sally

1 lock, 7 miles. Dep 0935, arr 1055 Wolverton. Dep 1310, arr 1500 Campbell Park.

Sun 12th September  Campbell Park to Leighton Buzzard

Kairos set off first, going to a winding hole two miles away. We were not long in leaving, as we did not want to obstruct the trip boat. As we reached Fenny Stratford Lock there was a boat already in there, and he was just closing the gates. He might have waited for us, but he said he didn’t see us.

So, we had the lock to ourselves. The other guy was filling up with water, and he came back to close the swingbridge for us. Perhaps he felt guilty.

Fenny Stratford Lock by ourselves

As we left, we met Out ‘n About  and we said a quick hello to Tudor and Flo.

Out ‘n About 

Soon after this, we saw a few runners, and then a lot more runners, and marshalls in high vis jackets. It turned out that this was the Twin Lakes 20 miler. Milton Keynes is a good place for such events, as there are many paths, which cross roads on bridges or underpasses.

Shield Bug as a passenger

Purple Dawn built by Dawncraft in 1939

We came to Hammond Lock just after a hire boat had gone up through it.

Hammond Lock

As we arrived at Three Locks the hire boat had just finished using the water point, so we shared with them. They stopped on the visitor moorings at the top. Then we had a fishing competition, with long carp rods across the canal.

Sharing Three Locks

Fishing competition

Globe Inn

Leighton Lock on our own

We moored soon after Leighton Lock, after saying a brief hello to a lady opposite who goes to one of the folk sessions we attend.
  We noticed that the hire boats were almost all out, and a long line of hirer’s cars was in the field.  James checked the propeller and took off some unwanted items.

Leighton Lock on our own

Wyvern Shipping car park

Collection of detritus from the prop.

6 locks, 11 miles. Dep 0855, arr 1450

Mon 13th September   Leighton Buzzard to Marsworth

The Wyvern boats were coming back at the end of their holidays. One lady was trying to get in to the side, and was using either full forward or full reverse, and she went diagonally across the cut and reversed into us. We decided to move on down to Tesco.

Changeover day at Wyvern

We passed Eunoia, but there was no sign of Diana and Roger. We also saw Ayup, with Ken and Sue on board. As we pulled in at Tesco, we passed The Power of Dreams James went to have chat with Julie and her husband, and discovered that they were wintering at Campbell Wharf Marina, where Chris and Sally will also be wintering. We made the introductions on WhatsApp.


The Power of Dreams

Hazel went shopping, while James emptied a cassette and took rubbish to the bins. There he saw several huge rats!! The rubbish had not been collected and the bins were full and overflowing.

Rubbish at Leighton Buzzard

We saw Eulalie going past (ACS people Chris and Gill Webber). We made a loose agreement to share locks with them. We set off in pursuit, but when we arrived at Grove Lock there was another boat in the lock, so they shared. We followed on behind on our own, and found that the other boat had gone into the marina, so we shared Church, Slapton and Horton Locks with Eulalie.

Grove Lock gates leaking

Sharing Church Lock with Eulalie

We met Shirley and Colin on
Brace Yourself, coming out of Slapton Lock. We had a hurried “hello”

Brace Yourself

Little and Large?

Travelling with Eulalie

Red Kite

Then we caught up with a hire boat, and
Eulalie shared the rest of the locks with them. We shared the second Ivinghoe lock with five swans. We tried to stop them coming into the lock, but they were determined. They had obviously done it before. If we had had another boat with us, it would have been a problem.

Sharing with a swan family

After the first Seabrook Lock, there were some work boats making repairs to the towpath, with new piling.

Towpath repairs

Marsworth Top Lock

We got the last mooring at Marsworth, with
Eulalie. Exe was also there, but we didn’t see anyone on board.

Moored at Marsworth

Next: Our final boating blog for the season. A wet day is forecast tomorrow. If we can find a gap, we will start down the Aylesbury Arm. We want to be back by Wednesday, to prepare for a worship team get together on Thursday.