Tuesday 1 August 2023

Stoke Bruerne to Aylesbury

Mon 24th July  Stoke Bruerne to  Yardley Gobion

We departed after the rain had stopped, and we shared locks with Duchess Lorikeet. There were two boats in front of us, and two more behind us, and we met some coming up the locks as well. There were some volunteers around and that helped. Gave a CM leaflet to a guy from BBC Radio Northants, who was on a boat going up.

We used the facilities at the bottom, and while we were at the water point, Sharon appeared, walking her dog. She and Ray used to be moored in Aylesbury on Vanguard. They now moor opposite at the foot of the Stoke Bruerne locks.

We had some distance to cover, so we moved on through Grafton Regis and Yardley Gobion, mooring finally near Isworth Farm.

Approaching the locks at Stoke Bruerne

Plenty of boats both ways

Sharing Stoke Bruerne Locks with a hire boat


Moored at Yardley Gobion

7 locks, 4 miles. Dep 1155, arr 1430 Bottom Lock services. Dep 1450, arr 1605.

Tue 25th July  Yardley Gobion to Fenny Stratford

Cosgrove Festival had just ended, and it explained the busy locks yesterday. Cosgrove Lock was on our own, followed by the slow cruise past moored boats and over the aqueduct over the Great Ouse. We stopped for sandwich on the bollards by the Black Horse, despite an annoying ledge preventing us getting in properly to the side. We paused to empty a cassette at Giffard Park, and continued our cruise to the Plough at Simpson near Bridge 91. We had never been in before, and were pleasantly surprised.  They had a decently good pie, and a concrete cow in the garden, to show we are in Milton Keynes. We had hoped to moor here, but there was so much noise from the A5 that we decided to move on. It wasn’t far to Fenny Stratford Lock, where we found a family of swans trapped in the lock. They were pleased to be released. We wondered how long they had been there. We took the first available mooring, as it was late. It wasn’t until the next morning that we discovered that we were immediately behind Chris and Sue on A Narrow Escape!

One boat is not enough to store everything

Full of stuff

Solomon's Bridge

Church and warehouse at Cosgrove

Cosgrove Lock

Great Ouse from the aqueduct

Old Milton Keynes bridges are now footpaths

Moored for the Plough

Concrete cow

Under the noisy A5

BCF boat Interlock - no sign of Dave

Fenny Stratford

Moored at Fenny Stratford behind friends

2 locks, 13 miles, 1 swing bridge. Dep 0905,arr 1150 Black Horse. Dep 1215, arr 1440 The Plough at Simpson. Dep 1915, arr 2010.

Wed 26th July  Fenny Stratford to Slapton

As we cast off and left, we discovered that we had moored behind Chris and Sue on Narrow Escape, and Widgeon was in front of them (Leslie and Alan). James saw an egret in a tree just after this.

The first lock of the day was Stoke Hammond Lock, which we did on our own. By the time we were ready to leave, another boat had arrived behind us, so we said we would wait for them at Three Locks. The next section had a fishing competition, so we took it slowly. At Three Locks there were volunteers, and we could have gone straight in, but we waited for the other boat, which was Hawkweed, hired by two Germans for 5 weeks. They also shared Leighton Lock, and told them they could moor alongside us by Tesco if there was no other space. It was busy, so this is what they did.

While Hazel went to Tesco, James did a sprint to Morrisons to see if they had our hedgehog mugs. They didn’t.

We left the shopping moorings, and there followed a remarkable bit of boat spotting. A Narrow Escape – Chris and Sue from ACS

Widgeon - Leslie and Alan from ACS

Stargazer - Steve who we met in April in Aylesbury town basin.

Out ‘n About – No sign of Tudor or Flo.

Ayup – No sign of Ken, whom we first met in Middlewich

Trinity – owned by our CM friends Henry and Lin. Now on semi-permanent loan.

A modified cruiser, combining two boats in one.

Moorings near the lake had been reserved for a festival. Other moorings were full until we came to Slapton, just before Bridge 118. Meanwhile, we had negotiated two more locks by ourselves. Rain started soon after we had moored.

Does this sign achieve anything?

Sharing Three Locks with Hawkweed

Middle Lock at Soulbury was Gabriel's 5000th lock

The Globe Inn

Widgeon from ACS

A Narrow Escape - ACS

Trinity - ex Canal Ministries

Two boats in one

A beautifully maintained pair

Out 'n About


Grove Lock by ourselves

7 locks, 10 miles. Dep 0925, arr 1305 Leighton Buzzard. 1510, arr 1635.

Thu 27th July  Slapton to Marsworth

We shared locks with Katrina from Calcutt. The lady was struggling to open the paddles, so James lent her a longer windlass.

We often see cormorants, but near Seabrook Locks we spotted one on a telegraph wire, drying its wings.

We stopped in Marsworth, and a guy called Jim Bill Bailey was asking where the cafe was. We told him he had passed it further back, so we invited him on board for a cuppa. He was doing a sponsored walk from Brentford to Birmingham.

We had a pleasant evening in sunshine, with lovely views. We heard deer in the night.

Leaving our mooring by Bridge 118

Sharing locks with Katrina

Munchkin land film set

Seabrook Locks

Lock gates made in Stanley Ferry near Wakefield

Boat adrift across the canal

Bill Bailey pausing for a cuppa on his long walk

Sunshine and views from our mooring in Marsworth

9 locks, 4 miles, 1 swing bridge. Dep 0910, arr 1305.

Fri 28th July  Marsworth to Aylesbury

We allowed half an hour to get to top of the locks via the sanitary station, where we emptied two cassettes. The rubbish area was so full that we didn’t add to it.

Our helpers for the day, Will and Ann, arrived promptly at 9am, and we started our journey down to Aylesbury. Just as we had set the top lock, a CRT person came up from below the locks and asked us to wait for ten minutes while he ran some water down, as there was a low pound between locks 3 and 4. We were soon on our way again.

As we approached Lock 5, we noticed a boat going down in front of us entering  Lock 6. It turned out to be Dermot, and he was on his own, so we lent him Will for a while. Then James helped him through a lock where we were having trouble with a swan family who wanted to go down in front of the boat in the lock. At one point they changed their minds and rushed back to the stern, so we had to hold the boat against the wall to avoid crushing them. It was only when the bottom gate was opened that they came again from the far end of the lock and escaped in front of us.

Dermot was having trouble with his engine dying, and eventually he said we should go ahead. We left him with a few locks still to do, and Hazel promised to buy him a drink if he made it to the bar that evening.

We continued with Gabriel without further incident, snipping protruding brambles as we went. The reedy section after Red House Lock was noticeably more dense than when we had left in May.

Our mooring was ready for us as we entered the canal basin, and we saw Bryan, Nick, Andrew, and a few others. We had lunch on board, and our car started at the first attempt. James drove Will and Ann back to Marsworth to collect their car.

Later, from our apartment, we saw Dermot going past, and we went to the bar in the evening and bought him a drink as promised. He had suffered from a dirty fuel filter. The Provis Wharf contingent were there – Tony and Maria, John and Ruzenka, and Eric.

Marsworth Junction

Going down the staircase

Hazel with a windlass

Following Dermot

Rubbish on the prop

Silly bird-brained swans

Ann and Will at Redhouse Lock

Through the reedy section

Offside vegetation needs attention

The last lock

Into Circus Field Basin

14 locks, 6 miles, 1 lift bridge.

This is the last blog for a while. We have Sandra Kibble’s funeral in Tamworth next week, and a BCF social in September. Our church is moving to new premises soon, and we also want to visit Oliver in his new home, as well as Greg and Jessy, Amanda, Maggie and Clive . Lots to do, plumbing and electrics to attend to on the boat, appointments to be made.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Braunston to Stoke Bruerne

Thu 20th July  (Continued) Braunston to Welton Wharf

Having had a snooze in the afternoon, we looked at the weather forecast, and realised that Saturday was to be wet all day, and we didn’t want to do the Buckby Locks in the rain. We decided to do a bit more boating today instead, so we left our mooring by the marina, and started up the locks. It was very quiet, and we made it quite quickly on our own. By the Admiral Nelson, we briefly met the people from Charis Irene, who are BCF.

After the top lock, we positioned the new floodlight we had bought, along with the magnetic torch that Mark had lent us, and entered the tunnel. The lighting worked fine, and we had no problems. We found a mooring shortly after Bridge 6, Welton Wharf. It was quiet and peaceful, and we heard owls later.

Heading for Braunston Locks

Braunston Bottom Lock

Lock 3 by the Admiral Nelson

Passing Charis Irene

Braunston Top Lock

Moored by Welton Wharf

6 locks, 3 miles. Dep 1850, arr 2030

Fri 21st July  Welton Wharf to Nether Heyford

An early departure brought us to where Graham and Sandra were moored, and we had a brief chat with Graham as we passed. Then we passed Norton Junction heading for the Buckby Locks. There was no-one to share with, so we went in on our own. Thankfully, we found a hire boat before the second lock, and we shared with them. Hazel made a quick visit to the shop that sells canal ware, and we bought a jug for Joyce’s birthday.

The hire boat was Canaloni, and it was helpful to share the locks, although they hadn’t done much boating before – just a trip on the Thames ten years ago. At the bottom lock, James ran into the chandlers to buy some milk as Gabriel descended in the lock. At the bottom it was difficult to get back on board, as the walls widen out, leaving a gap to leap. James managed it, and we went first. There was a boat waiting to come in.

We cruised without incident alongside the noisy M1 motorway, and then the wiffly bends between the railway and the A5. We didn’t stop at Weedon, not even to visit Tesco. We noticed that the diesel price at Rugby Boats was 105p. We had paid 99p at Dunchurch Pools, so we felt pleased with the tip off that Graham had given us.

We moored near Nether Heyford, but there were boats on the piling where we had intended to stop, so we went a little further and had to use mooring spikes. Thankfully, someone in the past had managed to put some bits of string through the iron rails on this section, and we found one at each end which served to stop us from surging too far when boats went past, and some of them were speedy.

Passing Graham on Micah

Norton Junction

The Leicester Arm

Buckby Top Lock

Sharing with Canaloni

Canaloni leaving Buckby Bottom Lock

Back into widebeam territory

BCF boat Kathleen Margaret

Seven large cygnets is a success

Bold Betty built in 1930 in Potter Heigham

Moored near Nether Heyford

Tied onto bits of string

7 locks, 7 miles. Dep 0815, arr 1235.

Sat 22nd July  Nether Heyford

It rained and rained all day, so we went nowhere. Despite having four ropes out, the mooring pins at the bows started to pull out as boats churned past in the rain. James used one of our huge angle iron spikes instead, and that seemed to work. We don’t often use them, but nothing else will do in soft banks.

No boating today, and no photos.

Sun 23rd July  Nether Heyford to Stoke Bruerne

We found a short cut through a hedge and across a field to reach the road into Nether Heyford. We visited the One Stop and bought some bread, before sitting on a bench in the sunshine overlooking the green. James went to retrieve a brolly that Hazel had left in the shop, before we went into the Baptist Church for their 1030 service. It was an elderly congregation – we think James was the youngest apart from the pianist. The most up to date song was “Bind us together,” but we had a warm welcome. Sadly, there was no coffee after the service, even though they have a cafĂ©. It’s not the coffee that’s important, it’s the opportunity to chat.

As we left the church, we noticed that Hazel didn’t have the brolly, so we went back to collect it. Twice in one day!  Back to the One Stop for milk etc, and then back to the boat.

We left promptly, while the weather permitted, and we made good progress, until we caught up with a slow boat in front. They must have been novices, as they almost hit an oncoming boat because they moved the tiller the wrong way. They turned round at Gayton Junction, so we were able to move on. At Blisworth, almost all the moorings were taken, so it was well that we didn’t need to stop. We went through Blisworth Tunnel using torches once again, and found a mooring with no problem.

We went for a meal in the Boat Inn, and Kathryn joined us for a drink.

Nether Heyford Baptist Church

Gayton Junction and the Northampton Arm

The warehouse at Blisworth

Our two tunnel lights

Hazel at the helm

Blisworth Tunnel

Emerging after 30 minutes

Cross section of the tunnel

Moored at Stoke Bruerne

0 locks, 9 miles. Dep 1210, arr 1515

Next: Continuing south through Milton Keynes.