Wednesday 29 July 2009

Slapton Lock to Milton Keynes

Yesterday’s journey from Slapton lock to Old Linslade was uneventful, with two minor exceptions – we found the geocache at Slapton that we couldn’t find on our way south, and we stopped at Aldi in Leighton Buzzard to replenish chocolate supplies. We moored just a few minutes walk away from the Globe pub, where we have booked a table for Saturday night, as we will have son Russ and his fiancĂ© Nat on board for a couple of days, and we have decided to take them back south-wards as it is less boring.

After mooring we wandered to the pub to make the booking, and sample their cider, and who should we come across but the Fudge Boat!SDC10083

Well, we couldn’t resist, but as we had just bought a fridge-full of chocolate, we limited ourselves to one bag of vanilla fudge

SDC10084 We ate it all watching telly last night – delicious!!

We were also moored beside a field with multiple herons sitting in the middle – what do you call lots of herons? A flock? No – a group of herons is called a scattering, a sedge or a siege – bet you didn’t know that! I did take a photo, but couldn’t zoom in enough for them to show up on the blog photo.

This morning we left for MK Marina and met fellow bloggers Carol and George on nb Rock ‘n Roll again, at Fenny Stratford Lock.

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We had a chat, and got a couple of photos this time.

We are now in Milton Keynes Marina – we had been told that they had gone out of business, but this isn’t the case at all. The workshop and services are run by someone else, and they are in transition between tenants. There is no-one here full time at the moment, so if anyone needs fuel or a pump-out it would be best to telephone first to make sure that there is someone to do it.

We have hired a car from Enterprise which we get tomorrow, and will go to Northampton tomorrow afternoon for our family party on Friday. Russ and Nat will return with us for a short cruise, so blogging will be suspended until early next week.

Monday 27 July 2009

Heading back

Today started with pouring rain, but  we had been hanging around the Marsworth/Aylesbury area for a week and needed a change of scenery, so we donned our new waterproofs and set off, back the way we had come a week ago, heading towards Northampton for our family party – it’s my aunt and uncle’s 50th Wedding Anniversary in August, but we are celebrating early.  We will probably go as far as Milton Keynes in the next day or two and then get a mooring in the Marina for a couple of nights, and hire a car to take us the rest of the way.  We are now moored above Slapton Lock, opposite the Whipsnade chalk lion.

SDC10076 Gypsy caravan on the farm by Horton LockSDC10077 Our view for tonight

A lovely day with the family

Sunday 26th July

Daughter Emma, husband Ben and granddaughters Florence (almost 4) and Milly (2) arrived just after 10 o’clock and caught us feeding the huge carp outside the White Lion pub – they come right up to the surface to take bread, and they especially like dog biscuits – the girls were fascinated.

We promised them lunch at the Grand Junction Arms – but we made them work for it – we went up the seven locks to Bulbourne Junction, and Ben worked every one!SDC10060

Cassie being good for Flo

SDC10062SDC10063                                                     Milly and Flo on the slide in the pub garden


Supposed to be having a nap!

After lunch we went up the Wendover Arm, and very pretty it was too:

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                                                                      End of the line

SDC10073                                                                    Ben and Flo at the helm 

SDC10067                                     Heygates Flour Mill in the background                 

SDC10068Pulling faces for the camera

SDC10075Granddad and Milly

Emma and Ben worked all the locks on the way back to Marsworth, so I had quality time with my gorgeous granddaughters.

A lovely day was had by all – hopefully we will see Emma and the girls at a family party on Friday.

Carry on Back up the Jungle….

Sat 25th July

We headed back up the Aylesbury Arm to Marsworth.  It was a scorching hot day with little breeze, and it was bloody hard work!  For narrow locks, some of the gates are very heavy, and the paddle gear stiff.  This time we met two boats coming towards us in the ‘jungle’!  luckily we were at a slightly wider bit for the first, so we stopped and let him through.SDC10054

The second one we met was just before the reed beds finished and he was able to pull over and let us through – so all in all not too many problems were caused, and nobody ran aground.



SDC10056 ‘Himself’ doing some work for a change!

SDC10057 In one of the locks

SDC10058 Marsworth Junction Top Locks

We continued up to the end at Marsworth and moored up in exactly the same spot as we had been on Monday and Tuesday – the boat that was moored behind us was still there – talk about ‘Groundhog Day’!


Rog did a bit of fishing and caught the little brother of the big carp that he lost last week.

Friday 24 July 2009


Forgot to include the following in my earlier post:

Yes – we did buy new waterproofs during our sojourn in Aylesbury – posh Berghaus ones!  We gulped at the price at first, but got the 2nd one at half price, so not so bad after all.

For those readers who have asked to see photos of the finished boat, please go to the Beacon website for photos and description:    Boat numbers 5, 6, 7 and 8 are also detailed there.

Up the Jungle on the African Queen

On Monday we headed to Marsworth, found a mooring and decided to stay until Wednesday as the weather forecast wasn’t very good for Tuesday, and we didn’t fancy doing the Aylesbury Arm with it’s 16 locks in the pouring rain.  Good job we stayed as the weather was indeed lousy and we again got drenched taking Cassie for walks (note to self: buy new waterproof as the old one is waterproof no longer!)

Wednesday dawned sunny and clear so off we set, down the Aylesbury Arm.  There was a huge amount of water in the canal and for the first few locks the water was weiring over the gates. The countryside is very remote and peaceful.SDC10040


After a couple of miles, the pounds got shallower and shallow, we were barely making 2 miles an hour most of the time – odd when all the water is coming down! 


You can see from the photo that the water level is at least a foot lower than usual – we were scraping the bottom and I thought I’d have to go back and let some water  down at one point, but we managed to manoeuvre a little to starboard and it seemed a little deeper – enough to get to the next lock anyway.

We then entered the famous reed beds – we remembered these from the last time we came this way, about  10 years ago, but blimey – it’s now like being in the jungle.  There is a channel between them only just wide enough for one boat – the reeds on either side are above head height!

SDC10043 Ahead



both sides of the boat



It was quite exciting really, we expected that any moment we would meet a tribe of pigmies!  A good job we didn’t meet any boats coming the other way – we were warned not to pull over to pass another boat, otherwise we’d be well and truly stuck!

We have now been moored in Aylesbury basin since Wednesday afternoon.  Not the prettiest of basins, but the welcome has been first class, and mooring is free for a week.  We have plugged into the electric, (the meter takes 50ps and we have only put in 1.50 ) done loads of washing, and used the tumble dryer in the clubhouse – 20p for 15 minutes.  Very reasonable I think, I have dried 4 loads of washing, including towels and bedding for £3.20.  We’ve also committed retail therapy, although I don’t think it’s therapy any more – the traffic is going at 100 miles an hour and there are too many people!!!!  The weather has again been very unpredictable, and we had a horrendous thunderstorm at lunchtime today.

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Heading back up the Arm tomorrow to meet Emma and Ben and the girls for a trip out on Sunday – unfortunately work pressures mean that they can’t spare the time to come cruising at the moment – maybe later on in the school holidays.

Sunday 19 July 2009

Glad we’ve got a boat…..

Weather was much better yesterday so we left our mooring near Old Linslade, and Cassie’s pile of sticks -


– we got our shopping done in Leighton Buzzard and came back to the boat laden with essentials, cider and chocolate being the most important.  Cruised for a bit longer to get out in the country

SDC10030The weather was beautiful by lunchtime 


The Chalk Lion of Whipsnade, cut in 1933 as an advert for the zoo


We moored up just before Bridge 118, in the middle of nowhere just as the weather started to deteriorate again.  We had some visitors as soon as we arrived, demanding to be fed.


The weather forecast was not good for today, so we have stayed put – we did however decide, in between heavy showers, to take Cassie for a walk up as far as Slapton Lock and do a bit of geo-caching.   Of course, the heavens opened just as we stepped off the boat.  “It’ll stop in a minute” says I, “the showers are only lasting for a few minutes at a time!”   Did it stop?  Did it hell!!  We got drenched!  And to cap it all, just beyond the bridge, there was a fishing match going on, practically the whole way to the lock.  We had to wait several times while the fishermen moved their huge poles out of our way(!)  Now, Rog is also a fisherman, so we understand, but it wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t take up the whole width of the towpath – and the amount of expensive equipment they have got now,  just for a club match, is awe-inspiring!!  There must have been tens of thousands of quids-worth of gear!                                                         


A very soggy Cassie

And, talking of fishing, Rog set up his tackle (!) about 3 o’clock and I was just getting down to some blogging when he yelled for me to pass him his landing net – he’d got  a big carp (we think) on his line.  I stayed to watch him land it, camera at the ready, and over an hour later, I was still waiting!  He just couldn’t tire it out enough to get it in his net, as he had very light elastic on the pole.  Eventually it dived into some bushes on the opposite bank and broke the line.  What a disappointment!  Rog thinks it’s probably the biggest carp he’s ever had on.  What a pity he couldn’t land it.

Moving on to Marsworth tomorrow, then down the Aylesbury Arm to await Emma, Ben and the girls coming back from their holiday in France.

Friday 17 July 2009

Great Linford to Old Linslade…

On Wednesday we left Great Linford and cruised the delights of Milton Keynes.  Interesting in a way, but boring in it’s sameness!  Interesting to see what a large town can do to make it’s canal a ‘linear park’, but it was all the same – miles of trees and footpaths, with the occasional glimpse of the ever-present roundabouts!  Pennyland basin was the only really innovative bit, where the water was in and around the houses creating watery driveways for boat owners to ‘park’ their boats outside their own homes.SDC10022                                                                                  Heron in Milton Keynes                          

We moored for the rest of the day just before Fenny Stratford Lock, and went for a look at the village and to find the chippy.  We duly partook of fish and chips for our dinner, but were disappointed in the quality of the fish, very cotton-woolly and bland, but the batter was lovely and crisp and the chips were good too.  Oh well, you can’t have it all, I suppose!!

On Thursday morning we did a short hop through Stoke Hammond lock and the Soulbury three.  There were a lot of gongoozlers outside the Three Locks pub, so, cowardice being the better part of valour in this case, I declined Rog’s offer to work the locks while I drove, and set to in earnest with my trusty windlass.  Not alone, I hasten to add, we had company in the form of another boat which didn’t have it’s name displayed, but had dragons painted on it’s bow.SDC10020


We moored about a mile further on, just near Old Linslade.  It is around here that the Great Train Robbery happened, but we’re not sure exactly where.  Nicholson's says it happened near the Globe pub which is just round the bend from where we are moored, and Pearson’s has it on a lonely stretch of track north of Cheddington, which is the other side of Leighton Buzzard.  Rog is 'Google-ing it as I write to find out which is correct.

SDC10024                                                                               The railway track 

SDC10023Open countryside from our mooring

We decided to stay here today as the weather forecast last night wasn’t good, and it has proved to be a wise decision – we’ve had torrential rain and thunderstorms since about 10 o’clock this morning.  I took the opportunity to take Cassie for a walk when it seemed to clear up about 3.30, but was caught out in another heavy shower within 10 minutes of setting out.  Didn’t last long though, but it is raining so hard again now that it’s bouncing up and under the mushroom vents, and dripping into the boat!



Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow – we want to go into Leighton Buzzard to Aldi to stock up on chocolate (Aldi chocolate is THE BEST!)

PS – Google wasn’t much help with the actual location of the GTR – several sites Rog looked at couldn’t agree either!

Tuesday 14 July 2009

Morning visitors…

Monday 13th July

A quick trip down Stoke Bruerne locks and a 2 hour trip across the lonely landscape of the six mile pound between Stoke  Bruerne and Cosgrove, where we moored for the rest of the day.


Tuesday 14th July

This morning, while we were watering prior to leaving Cosgrove we had some visitors, a herd of beautiful cows (maybe Jerseys)and their calves came to drink opposite our mooring.


DSC00137 We stopped in Wolverton to do a shop in the 24 hour Tesco superstore, and we managed to find me a new camera.  It’s an early birthday present from Rog.  We moved on a little way and moored just before Milton Keynes really begins, almost at Great Linford.  While Rog did a bit of fishing, Cassie and I went exploring, and I took my new camera to play with. These are some of the photos that I took, and I’m very pleased with them.

SDC10010SDC10009Just around the corner, I found a memorial with a nice poem 

SDC10012SDC10014SDC10013   We found a footpath leading across a field towards a ruined building which turned out be be an old chapel, I think.SDC10011A lake, glimpsed through the trees


Protective iron-work on the edge of a bridge with deep grooves cut by the old towing ropes

SDC10016A stile leading nowhere – why??



Tomorrow we will cruise through Milton Keynes without stopping – we had planned to go shopping for my camera but there is no need now, and we don’t like crowds and noisy towns anymore.  We plan to moor at Fenny Stratford as Rog is feeling the need for Fish and Chips or a take-away Chinese.