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 was a logistics day. Ahead of our mooring spot were the three locks at Soulbury. Between lock two and three on the rise is a winding hole, and this would be the limit of our journey south this year. The morning was forecast to be bright and sunny so we set off after breakfast. At the foot of the lock flight is a water point so we filled up. Whilst waiting we also saw our first heron catching a fish. He was hovering over the pound, something must have caught his eye, then he swooped down, hopped out with wriggling fish in its beak, and then it was gone. It was also bigger than the ones I caught last year.
Taking on water and setting the lock.
The lock flight is manned by volunteers so we informed them of our intention to wind. The middle pound is adjacent to the Three Locks P.H. which we tried yesterday. It is dog friendly and serves good food, although did seem on the pricey side. Having winded it was back down the two locks, and back to our mooring spot above Stoke Hammond Lock. The weather is proving bizarre at the moment. One minute bright sunshine, the next wind and sleet. It is our intention, subject to the vagaries of the forecast weather, to set off for Milton Keynes and Great Linford tomorrow. This afternoon between wintery showers, the garden on the roof was tended to by the crew. Not wanting to be out done I thought I would tackle the stove. There was five months of baked on soot to clean, still now it’s done.
Totals 2 Miles 4 Locks
Running total 62 Miles 44 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