Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Back to Norton Junction

Somehow everything became so busy yesterday that I forgot the blog post!

We locked up the last two on the Stoke Bruerne flight and topped up the water tank before heading towards Blisworth Tunnel.  The Cheese Boat was moored above the flight.  Actually Jan thinks there is more than one cheese boat?


With nothing coming towards us the passage through Blisworth Tunnel was quite quick.  It was still wet inside but like last time I again managed to manoeuvre around the “gusher”.  Jan sensibly stayed inside the cabin.

On approaching Blisworth I was somewhat surprised to see a boat ahead of us as the tunnel had been clear.  Then the boat started reversing on the other side of the bridge hole.  As we got closer the boat paintwork seemed to be in excellent condition.  Then I noticed the hat the steerer was wearing and I realised it had to be a boat test with Adam (nb Briar Rose) at the tiller.

P1030944No doubt there will be a better photo in the next edition of the Canal Boat magazine.

Another familiar boat near Gayton Junction.  Albeit with a lovely new paint job.


I think we first saw Duxllandyn at Norbury Wharf and then on the K&A at Great Bedwin.  No sign of Marilyn, but then the cruising season hasn’t started! 

The Owl & the Pussycat was still moored at Camp Hill.  Jan thinks her grandparents would have loved the boat.


We moored for the night at Stowe Hill.  This morning we started cruising at 9.15 and shortly there after passed another well known boat.


There has been significant progress on the new bypass around Weedon Bec village.  Earthworks have now commenced on the western side of the canal and railway.


Earthworks on the skyline.

To the east a excavator was laying and compacting rock for the bridge abutments and the approach road alignment is more obvious.

P1030949 At Dodford Bridge we caught up with a slow moving ABC boat from Gayton Marina.  It was Day 2 for first time hirers.  They kindly let us pass and then picked up speed to tag along.  We then shared the Buckby Flight with them.


Jan provided free lock handling instructions and they were so grateful she received a bottle of fermented red grape juice as thanks.

They were heading towards Market Harborough on a six day cruise and planned to spend the second night at Crick.  I suggested they try and go slightly further because their time was going to be tight.

With rain forecast at 3pm we decided to moor for the day above Buckby Top Lock.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Not quite so good

Being Sunday it was time to visit The Navigation for our usual lunch roast.  Jan opted for the beef whilst I chose the pork. 

We are moored in almost the same location as our trip down the Grand Union several weeks ago.  However this time there is more water in the pound and as a result Waiouru doesn’t have a list.


Adjacent to the top lock is the most obvious sign of the former narrow locks that were originally used when the Grand Junction Canal was constructed.


For some reason Stoke Bruerne attracts gongoozlers.  There’s no obvious reason apart from the locks and the attractive location.  I guess it’s similar to Foxton Locks? 

stoke Bruerne

There weren’t quite as many people milling around as our last visit, which was probably an advantage when it came to finding a table in The Navigation.

The Navigation

The one thing Jan doesn’t like about The Navigation is their tap cider is Strongbow and she detests the taste (too metallic).


Out of focus

Generous portions, but this time Jan found her beef tasty but slightly tough!

On the move again tomorrow……..

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Grove Lock to Stoke Bruerne

Trying to catch up with the blog.  Yesterday we moved from Grove Lock to Fenny Stratford with a stop at Leighton Buzzard to restock the galley cupboards.

This morning we departed Fenny Stratford with the intention of reaching Stoke Bruerne (Sunday lunch tomorrow).

Obviously at least one boater thought we were speeding because she came out to take our photo.


It’s our second day of seeing some of this season’s ducklings.  The ducks obviously subscribe to the quantity vs quality attitude towards parenting.


This boat wasn’t so close to the bottom when we came this way about a week ago! No obvious license, name or index number so it’s possible CRT will have to pay for the removal.


Another link to the history of the canals?


On approaching Wolverton the railway is the dominant feature.


Jan noticed this interesting boat painting to go with the name.


It’s Saturday and most of the Wyvern hire fleet is out.  Fortunately they are all going in the same direction as us!   We paired up with one at Cosgrove Lock.  They were stopping for lunch at the Barley Mow along with a second Wyvern boat so that’s two behind us.

From this point the cruise became rural.  I think I’m going to miss the rolling countryside and church spires.

churchThere was evidence of pumping prior to Stoke Breurne Bottom Lock.

IMG_1638Jan worked Waiouru up the first five locks of the flight and we then moored in the pound below the second lock.   

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Bloggers and the Cratch Cover

Jan got really annoyed with the boater in the photo below.  He was racing around the junction and his wake almost knocked her off her feet twice!  Apparently the “ice maiden” stare from the side hatch was enough to cease and desist.


This morning we slipped the mooring and moved off to the water point for a top up.  Then it was a matter of doing locks.  A routine was quickly developed.  Along the way we passed two bloggers.  The first was nb Lois Jane (the Pen Boat) with Debbie waving from the window.  The second was nb Chuffed.  There was only time for a brief conversation with Debby as we needed to catch up with Jaq who was forging ahead.

P1030935About 20 minutes later I glanced at a moored boat and received a surprise when I saw the name.

P103093320170420-P1030933Either a recent paint job or there are two Granny Buttons!

The Jules Fuel Boats were moored below Grove Lock.  Jaq decided she want to reverse back for fuel whilst we continued on to look for a mooring.


We found a suitable mooring about a kilometre later and had just finished mooring  (I was preparing to walk to Tesco in Leighton Buzzard)  when there was a call from Jaq “Help, I have something large around the prop and rudder!”  I walked back to find her being towed to the bank by an obliging passing boater.

I have to say this is the first time I have removed a cratch cover via the weed hatch.  Smile  If anyone needs a cratch cover they should contact Jaq.  It might be useful if they own, or have access to; a sewing machine. Smile

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Wrong Green Boat

This morning Waiouru had some further TLC when I repainted the TV mast support, the rivet heads on the front hatch and a damaged section of paint near the starboard recessed stern panels.  The TV support and rivet heads look good but the paint near the stern looks #$%^&.  It’s going to need to be sanded back and repainted. <grrrrrr>

In the afternoon I walked up the Marsworth flight to Bulbourne Junction.  I was looking for a green boat and after waiting a couple of minutes it appeared from the direction of Tring.  I do like it when a plan comes together.  It didn’t take long to fill the lock but as the boat got closer I realised there was a second person with the solo lady boater I was expecting.  Had she collected a passenger?

About then I realised it wasn’t the green boat I had been expecting.  Still, the couple from Newcastle, Australia were grateful for my assistance in setting the lock and happily waited for “my” green boat which arrived five minutes later.


Two green boats

My boater was of course Jaq Biggs on nb Valerie


Jaq’s boat handling skills have significantly improved since I observed her steering Valerie up the Hatton Flight (9.75 out of 10 [well I have to leave her room for improvement]).

The Aussie couple on the “other” green boat travel over every year and spend the summer on their boat.  He told me they were “10 pound poms” who had emigrated in 1962.  They are now retired and enjoy summer all year round.  Part of a growing group!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Marsworth Walk

Thank you to those readers who provided feedback on my attempt a video embedding.  I can see the video on our laptop but the plug-in isn’t supported on the Android Tablet.  That’s a mystery to me as the tablet will run almost all video formats.  I’m going to continue experimenting but for those readers who couldn’t view the video I’ve pasted a link below which will hopefully work!


I went for a 20km circular walk this afternoon picking a rural route to the south-east of our mooring at Marsworth.


It was a clockwise walk with the return via the canal towpath.  I wanted to explore the lake to the north of the canal thinking it might be part of the Tring reservoir system.


The edges don’t look as well formed as the reservoirs on the opposite side of the canal so it’s either newer or a flooded former quarry.  There’s a second body of water slight south which is still being quarried so that solves my query.

P1030912 There is a high ridgeline to the south of this quarry marked on the map as Pitstone Hill.  When I reached to top I realised I’d been here before.  Only last time the hill and countryside was covered in snow.



distant hill February 2015

Off to the north a solitary windmill stands in a field.


It’s Pitstone Windmill and dates back to 1627.  The windmill is believed to be the oldest in Britain. The mill ceased operating in 1902 after being seriously damaged in a storm.

My route took me in the opposite direction and I very quickly entered an area of clever horses and ponies. 


These are the first horses and ponies I’ve come upon that can read! Smile

The route took me southwest and up into an area of woodland.  I started to see more and more walkers before entering a clearing where there was a high stone column with a viewing platform at the top.


There was a fee to climb up the column and then I realised I’d entered a National Trust estate via the back door.  However it was the writing above the entrance to the column which particularly caught my eye.


“In honour of Francis Third Duke of Bridgewater Father of Inland Navigation 1832”

Well that was a surprise.  The Bridgewater Canal is miles away near Manchester.  So why is the column here?  This is the Aldridge Estate, owned by the National Trust.  The land belonged to the church until Henry VIII seized it during the Reformation.  Thomas Egerton, chancellor to Elizabeth I, bought the estate in 1604.  The Egerton’s are an old British aristocratic family.  Branches include:

  • Barons Ellesmere
  • Viscounts Brackney
  • Earls of Bridgewater
  • Dukes of Bridgewater
  • Earls of Ellesmere
  • Duke of Sunderland

Francis Egerton was the Third Duke of Bridgewater.  So that’s the connection.  However he had nothing to do with the nearby Grand Junction Canal.

From here the walk was southwest with valley views through the woodland towards the west and the canal.


Eventually I arrived at Dudswell Bottom Lock where I turned north and walked the towpath back to Waiouru.


By the time I reached the old Bulbourne Workshops my feet were starting to feel as if they had a good workout.


Monday, 17 April 2017

Embedded Video and the Wendover Arm

My first attempt at embedding a video in a blog post using open Live Writer.  Please let me know if it doesn't work.  I read Google News daily  and the video is about a UFO that crash landed in America.


I went for a walked around the Tring reservoirs and was rather surprised to see the water level in Startopsend was very low for this time of year and after subsequently looking at the level in the others I suspect this isn't due to low winter rainfall.   The route brought me out at the far end of the watered portion of the Wendover Canal.  On the way back along the towpath I came upon a factory with some large silios.  Despite it being after 6pm at Easter the factory was operating.
 The smell suggested it was a flour mill which was confirmed when I reached the other end to see vehicles with Heygates Flour on the sides.  Heygates have been growing grain in Northamptonshire since 1562.  They subsequently expanded into milling and now own four mills and two bakeries.  They purchased this mill in 1944.

I eventually arrived at Bulbourne Junction to see Bates Dry Dock was in operation.
By now it was raining and I didn't have a coat.  Oh well, skin is mostly waterproof!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Marsworth Moorings

We are back at Marsworth Junction and have managed to squeeze onto the end of the visitor moorings.  Actually we were overhanging the end for 20 minutes until the boat in front of us departed for Aylesbury.  With such a generous time it’s not hard to see why the moorings are so popular .


Yesterday afternoon I completed repainting the thin lengths of graphite grey on the hatch slide and then sanded back and applied a coat of varnish to the sides of the hatch which were looking slightly tired after being brushed so often entering and exiting the boat.

IMG_20170416_190753In a fit of madness I even cleaned the brass strip.

This morning I sanded, masked and then applied a coat of primer to the other end of the slide support rails.

IMG_20170416_190715Jan said not to paint as it was going to rain (she was right…..but the paint had dried!).

Sunday lunch was at The Angels Retreat.  We had a roast lunch there the last time we were in Marsworth and enjoyed the meal.

IMG_20170416_181101IMG_20170416_121238A good selection of vegetables!

The White Lion is still boarded up


More painting tomorrow, weather permitting