The morning was bright and sunny with a clear blue sky, but it was not forecast to last all day. We set off at about 9.30 for Stoke Hammond Lock a mere 100 yards ahead of our mooring spot. Nb Panther was just entering the lock and so we joined them.
Stoke Hammond Lock with nb. Panther ahead.
Once through the lock we headed for Willowbridge Marina for fuel. We had been advised that their price for diesel is quite high, but having missed the diesel boat Towcester the other day we needed a top up. Nb. Panther continued passed us whilst we fuelled, and we thought that was the last we would see of them, but a couple of miles further on we met again at Fenny Stratford Lock. By now the cloud was starting to build, and when the sun was hidden from view it was cold. We continued rounding the outskirts of Milton Keynes and discussed the option of mooring directly outside the Black Horse Inn for lunch. As we round the final bend for the pub we saw the mooring was full, so as our intended spot was only a mile further, we carried on. Arriving at bridge 75 the wind was picking up. We quickly secured the boat and retreated inside to warm up. Not everyone was so lucky as this chap still had his lunch to catch.
Rather him than me standing in the cold water.
Our plan is to stay here one night and then move onto Cosgrove tomorrow. The crew informed me it is a bank holiday weekend, so we will aim to get there nice and early, to hopefully secure a spot before the weekend boaters turn out, especially as the forecast is for sunny weather.
Totals 10 Miles 2 Locks
Running total 72 Miles 46 Locks 3 Tunnels
Today it was a flip of a coin as to whether to move or not. The forecast indicated we would encounter several showers, but that the wind would be light. Most of the journey would be spent circumnavigating Milton Keynes, however it was surprisingly rural. It seems the towns planners created plenty of parkland for the enjoyment of its residents. After a few miles we reached Fenny Stratford. The lock here has a change of level of one foot one inch. Whether this was a mistake by the canal builders, or planned is a mystery. The lock also features a swing bridge, which must be moved before entry to the lock chamber.
Fenny Stratford lock and swing bridge.
Our next planned stop was to be Willow Bridge Marina for fuel, water and a pump out. The diesel pump was being repaired, so that will have to wait until our return. On route we spotted numerous heron, but this chap seemed to have a good fishing perch.
From Willow Bridge it was only a mile or so to the lock at Stoke Hammond. We were joined by a singlehanded narrowboater for the ascent. Our chosen mooring spot was just above the lock with a nice wide grassy towpath.
Mooring at Stoke Hammond.
Not long after mooring up we were passed by nb Kantara, neighbours of ours at Yelvertoft. Kantara is on its way back from cruising London and their blog can be found in my blog list. We have good 3G and satellite signals here and are close to a couple of pubs so we are in no hurry to move on.
Totals 10 Miles 2 Locks
Running total 60 Miles 42 Locks 3 Tunnels
Just a short post today, to report that Sunday lunch at the Black Horse Inn was very enjoyable. The pub is very atmospheric with plenty of exposed beams and open fires. We also found out they are dog friendly so a visit on our return journey is very much a possibility.
This evening the rain has set in so it was with some surprise we heard boat movement outside. Peeping out of the porthole we saw our first fat boat, aka wide beam on the move. We have seen plenty of these moored up on the Grand Union but this was our first moving one, hence the quick photo.
The weather for tomorrow is not looking too clever at the moment, so a decision on moving will be made in the morning.
Not wishing to overstay our welcome at Cosgrove, on Thursday we set off, initially for Wolverton. We were now on the outskirts of the vast suburban mass that is Milton Keynes. At Wolverton located conveniently close to the canal, is both a Tesco and Asda superstore. Myself and Oscar remained with the boat whilst the crew took the shopping trolley on its first outing of 2016. A little over an hour later and we were on our way again. Our planned mooring spot was just two miles further on, by bridge 75. There were a few boats here already, but we found a boat sized gap to slip into.
Our mooring is in a short section of the canal that dog legs away from the built up areas, and is surrounded to the north by parkland walks and several large lakes. Today, St. George’s Day we wandered around these lakes, allowing Oscar to charge about in the park grassland, before returning to the boat for lunch. Our afternoon entertainment was going to involve returning to a pub we had found the previous day, on the edge of the medieval village of Great Linford.
Almshouses and the 13th century St. Andrews Church.
The Nags Head P.H. is a thatched roofed pub and today the building was adorned with flags and bunting. The entertainment taking place in the garden, was folk dancing by the Roses and Castles Morris dancing side.
Roses and Castles Morris Side.
During our excursions we have found another pub, the Black Horse, and this will be our venue for tomorrow’s Sunday lunch. Our plan is to then move again on Monday, heading towards our final destination of Stoke Hammond, where we will wind to begin our journey back towards Yelvertoft for the Crick Show at the end of May.
Totals 3 Miles
Running total 50 Miles 40 Locks 3 Tunnels