Sunday, 28 July 2013

Mooring up for the week

Sunday 28th July 2013
Boy oh boy it was quiet last evening and this morning. No little man to liven things up, breakfast was relaxed.
With only a short journey and one lock to do we didn't set off early. The engine was started in order to get some washing done, and finally at about 10.30 we tootled off heading for The Wyvern Shipping Co. moorings in Leighton Buzzard.
When we called in on Friday we had been warned that there would be no one around, but I had been shown the mooring spot. Arriving this morning there was one of their hire boats in the slot, so we've had to breast up with it. No problem, just unexpected.
We're all tied up snug now, tomorrow they tell me that a power hook up can be organised. Hopefully the hire car will arrive on time and we'll be off to Bristol for the week.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Alone again

Saturday 27th July 2013
Yesterday we once again cruised through Leighton Buzzard, heading north. Passing the Wyvern Shipping Co., we stopped off to confirm our booking for a mooring next week.
We then continued through Leighton Lock, and, passing The Globe pub we stopped to book a table for lunch on Saturday.
At bridge 110 there is a winding hole, where we turned around and headed back to Leighton Buzzard.
We managed to find the same mooring we had a few days ago was free, well nearly, we had to ask some fisherman to move, they were young lads, and very good about it. I have had some very bad reactions from some fishermen about this, but mooring does take precedence.
Once again Danny and I took a wander into town where we devoured an ice cream each before
heading back.
This morning we simply chugged up to the same winding hole as yesterday, turned and then moored up at the pub to wait for Damon and Liz.
Danny had a whale of a time playing in their kids area. He surprised us by walking up the suspended log steps. He wanted to come down the fireman's pole, but was too short to reach the pole from the landing. With a little help to reach it though, he loved sliding down it.
Damon and Liz duly arrived about 12.00, and Danny started showing off his skills before we went in for lunch.
The food here is very good, as is the service. The desserts were particularly wonderful. On top of all that, there's plenty of mooring!
Finally it was time for them to head off back to Leeds, and we're once again enjoying peace and quiet. Fantastic!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Daniel's week so far

Thursday 25th July 2013
While the weather has cooled very slightly, it's still hot. The rain seems to come at night, which suits me.
On Tuesday we continued our cruise southward, but only as far as Leighton Buzzard. There's a 24 hr Tesco here very close to the canal mooring. We carried out a raid on it, which, because of the hot weather, was full of cooling liquids making it very heavy. Our poor shopping trolley coped with it very well, but I think we were well over its MGW!
After that we moved just a few yards, through the bridge to the service point for the usual water, rubbish, and chuck a can. It was then only another few yards to find a good overnight mooring. We were lucky there, this place is popular, and the moorings seem to be fairly full.
Wednesday we chugged off, still heading south. This time we only went about 3 miles and through 3 locks before stopping for the day.
Today we came back to Leighton Buzzard and moored up a little further from the the town. this seems a popular fishing spot, there are lots of them about, and as we came near the town there was a chap out driving markers into the ground at carefully measured intervals. Looks like a fishing competition this weekend.
Danny and I went into town and had a lovely cool drink in Costa while Cath stayed on the boat and watched part of a biopic about Coco Channel which she recorded last night.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Stoke Hammond

Monday 22nd July 2013
It's been a hectic few days. Liz arrived on Friday night, bringing Daniel. He is to stay with us for the week.
This is new territory for us, while we've had him for the occasional night while moored in Clarence Dock, this was a completely new ball game.
For the first night Liz stayed with us, but on Saturday morning she was off on her favourite pastime, LARP.
We decided to move straight away, and after chugging down to the winding hole we turned around and headed back to Linford Wharf, where there are services. After watering, dumping rubbish and a can we had intended to moor here for the night, there was a playground close by which we thought might be good for Danny. A closer look showed it was in a poor state, and mooring was tight anyway so we turned around again and set off back to Campbell Park but moored on the opposite side where there is 14 days allowed. We then set off to catch the bus into town to do a bit of shopping.
Later I took Danny for a walk around the park area to the east of the canal. Here we found a Gulliver's Kingdom amusement park, but at £16 for him and 15 for me I didn't reckon I'd get a good deal, he's a bit young yet to make full use of it.
Sunday we moved off and went through Fenny Stratford Lock. This was Danny's first time on a manual lock, so we were a bit apprehensive at first. He was very well behaved, not getting too close to the edge, and pushes like a trooper when opening the gate. We'll soon build him up, and then we can relax and let him do all the work.
During the evening a heron came and landed in a tree close by and I got this piccy.
Today we once again cast off and chugged down the canal, heading towards Leighton Buzzard. First stop was for Stoke Hammond Lock. This place has bad memories for us. Many years ago we were visiting an old college friend of Cath's, and while here our car, a TR6, was stolen. The police found it on its side in a ditch. It was a write off.
After that lock, it isn't far to Soulbury 3 Locks. I managed to get a few pics here.

Not long after the locks we decided to moor up for the day as the sun was getting very hot. It's supposed to be the hottest day so far according to those chuffs at The Met Office.
This afternoon Dan and I went for walk along the canal, he picked some flowers to take back for his Nan.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Back to The Wilderness

Wednesday 17th July 2013
A lazy day today. Because the Campbell Park moorings are 48 hr. We decided to move, and it gave a chance to do a wash load and charge the batteries.
It was only a short run, less than 3 miles, taking us back to Wilderness Park, where we stopped a couple of days ago.
After spinning her around in the winding hole we reversed Lyra onto the same mooring we had the other day.
There's a bench on the towpath, nicely shaded, where we could sit and read. I trundled off to the local One Stop shop for a Radio Times and a Motorcycle News for me. We then just sat under the tree canalside reading and watching the boats go by.
Cath also made some bread again today. That was hot work!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Campbell Park

Tuesday 16th July 2013
We spent a lazy day yesterday, partly sheltered by trees. I did get a little bit of cleaning done, but not a lot, too hot.
In the morning we went for a walk around the local area. I've noted before that Milton Keynes has some lovely parks around its perimeter, and there was one here. It had a nice little pond.

And a fine old church.

We chugged off this morning needing to run for a fairly long time to recharge the batteries. The canal twists its way around the north and east of MK, and on the way we pass many open spaces, several with playgrounds for kids.
Having to run a long time we decided to carry on south, though Feeny Stratford lock and on to the winding hole at Water Eaton Mill. Here we turned around and set off back with the intention of mooring up at Campbell Park.
We arrived at about 1.30, and luckily found space to tie up.
I caught the bus into the centre of town just to have a look around.
We'll shop in town tomorrow and then we might move across the canal where the mooring is 14 day, rather than the 48 hrs that it is on this side.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Towards Milton Keynes

Sunday 14th July 2013
A damned hot night it was.
After a really good meal in The Navigation last night we retired to Lyra and enjoyed watching some of the late travellers chug past before heading off the bed.
Despite another very hot day in prospect we didn't think it was worth trying to get an early start because it was our intention to stop at Wolverton and do a shop at the big 24 hr Tesco. Being Sunday they wouldn't be open until 10.00 am anyway.
Consequently it was after 9.00 before we set off, passing under Soloman's Bridge
Progress was slow due to many moored boats. A fair few of whom had congregated for the Cosgrove Festival, the chosen charity was the Bedford Canal. They had taken over Cosgrove Lock and demanding a ransom for passage through. A suitable sum changed hands and they kindly operated the lock for us.
At Wolverton we moored up at the same spot we did last year for the Tesco, near some flats with a couple of stunning sculptures.
After (over) filling our shopping trolley we headed back to the boat. While this is good shop, the route to it from the mooring is up and down lots of steps. Fun if you have an overloaded trolley.
After that we plodded along following the route of the canal as it skirts around the north of MK. We've found a nice little spot where we may spend tomorrow as well.
Here we are.,-0.756528&spn=0.00179,0.005284&t=h&z=18

Saturday, 13 July 2013

To Thrupp on a scorching day

Saturday 13th July 2013
As we set off from our night's mooring another boat came around the corner heading for the lock. Wonderful, we have a share. Geoff and Maureen shared the next 5 locks with us. They're also heading for London like us.
At the bottom of the flight there's a facilities block, so we stopped and took on water, chucked a can, dumped some rubbish before continuing.
Once again the sun was beating down, the Met Office has issued a heat warning, as we tootled along gently. We have slowed down a bit because Daniel is coming to us next Saturday, and we reckon that Milton Keynes will be a good place to receive him, so we are just going to be plodding slowly. If we tried we could get to where we want to be tomorrow, but that's no good. MK has strict mooring rules.
We carried on until reaching Thrupp Wharf
We've decided to go out to The Navigation, a waterside pub whose garden you can see in the photo above.
Just one more thing, Your's truly once again gets the numpty award. Last night I couldn't get the satellite TV to set up. I thought that maybe the LNB had failed, but with no way of testing it I wasn't sure. A quick phone call to Martyn, the Travelsat guru and I left a message asking for help. This morning he got back to me and asked if I was sure that the sat finder box was connected the right way around. Now, I never disconnect the dish end wire from it, so never thought to look, but, yes, it must have come off and I never thought to check. Once again we have satellite tele, just in time for Moto GP qualifying.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Blissworth Tunnel and Stoke Bruern

Friday 12th July 2013
Setting off this morning it wasn't very warm, and I had to put on a fleece first thing. Later the cover burnt off and we continued with a lovely cruise through the sunshine.
We decided to stop at Stowhill Wharf to refuel. It was a very reasonable 85 ppl. I don't expect it to be any cheaper than that from now on. I've heard tales of some places on the Thames charging £1.60 pl with no prop/heat split allowed. I wouldn't call them robbing bastards, OK I will.
The railway is a constant companion around here, and I'm a bit p****d with myself for missing a good opportunity for a photo of railway, train, and canal in one piccy.
Next it was a stop at Gayton Junction to empty a can, and then carry on through Blissworth Tunnel. For those who don't know, Blissworth Tunnel is one of the longest on the system at 3057 yds. It is wide enough for two narrowboats to pass, so you do get "the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming boat" syndrome.

Unfortunately, before setting off this morning I adjusted our headlights to a different angle to see how it worked. It was a bit of a disaster. The first boat we met in the tunnel had a lot of trouble because my light was blinding him. I've now re-adjusted the lights and hopefully it will be an improvement.
Immediately after the tunnel is the famous village of Stoke Bruern. This is a real tourist trap, with a waterways museum, a pub, an indian restaurant, a gift shop, a real goody seller, where the ice cream and other sweet things are superb.
There was also a gathering of The Messerschmitt Owners Club. Remember them? a bubble car, seating two, one behind the other. I have to say I never wanted one, and still don't, but the examples on show here were in superb condition, and the prices I heard quoted were on another planet.
We've moored up after going through 2 of the 7 locks here.
I don't know if it's something I'm doing, or if there is a problem with our Sky system, but I can't get the satellite system to work. I suspect the LNB but really don't know yet.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Buckby Locks

Thursday 11th July 2013
A bit of a lie in this morning compared to the last couple of days.
We left our mooring at the bottom of Watford Locks at about 9.15 and chugged slowly along to Norton Junction, where The Leicester Arm meets the main line of the Grand Union.
Here the wide locks start again, and it's straight into them with Buckby Lock Flight almost immediately.
Luckily we manage to pair up with "Tombee Two" for this very heavy set of locks. Dave and Elaina recently bought the boat, and while it looks in excellent condition on the outside, they have had a few problems. The most recent was a broken control cable. I think they're both very pleased with her in general though. Here we are in the top lock.
After the 7 locks we continued along what could be a peaceful canal, except for the proximity of both the M1 motorway and the main line railway. After a couple of miles the motorway veered off, but the railway remains a constant companion. We travelled as far as Weedon. A charming little village with an aqueduct over the main road. It's a steep climb down to the road from the mooring, then the road goes under the canal and the railway, of course climbing back up makes me puff.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Watford Locks

Wednesday 10th July 2013
We did another long day today. Our plan was to clear Watford Locks before mooring up for the night.
6.30 this morning saw us reversing from our mooring to the facilities area. After filling with water, dumping rubbish and chucking a can, we set off through the stop lock and back onto the summit pound.
The sun shone brightly up until about 10.00 o'clock when the clouds, which had been forecast, started to roll in and the day cooled dramatically.
There were a lot more boats out and about today. We had been surprised yesterday that we only passed two moving boats all day, I lost count today.
At the top of the 7 Watford Locks we took our place as No. 4 in the queue to go down. This gave us a chance to have some lunch.
Finally the last of the boats in front had started down. The keeper had told us to start down after the three ahead of us, but to stop after the first lock and wait for the up convoy to clear the staircase of 4 locks, which is the main flight here.
We finally cleared the locks at about 3.15, and we're now moored up for the night just below the flight.
Something seems to have gone wrong with Google Maps as I can't get it to past a link to our present position into this blog.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013


Tuesday 9th July 2013
We decided to get up earlier than usual this morning to try and get some motoring in before the sun got too hot.
Consequently we fell out of bed this morning at 7.00 and were on the way before 8.00. The sun shone, but the early morning cool was still there.
This is a long pound, so the cruising was very leisurely. With not far to go today we were cruising along fairly slowly, admiring the scenery even more than usual. It's lovely up here, on the summit level of this part of The Grand Union Leicester Section.
As the sun started to get stronger the canal started to enter a more shaded part of the route. We were approaching Husbands Bosworth tunnel, so the ground was rising and there were more trees giving shade.
On the far side of the tunnel the shade continued for quite some time before the scenery opened out again.
At Welford Junction we turned left down the Welford Arm. This arm is a feeder for the canal, bringing water from the Welford and Sulby reservoirs. The book says that after being derelict and silted up for many years it was reopened in 1969.
At the end of the arm there is a marina and boatyard, as well as a full services block.
The village is served by one small shop which doubles as a post office and off licence. In itself the village looks very ordinary, but it does have a very pretty small park area.
I forgot to put the memory card back on my camera this morning, so I've not managed any pictures today!,+Leicester,+United+Kingdom&hl=en&ll=52.422873,-1.054768&spn=0.001776,0.005284&sll=51.45507,-1.412415&sspn=0.014521,0.042272&oq=Welford&t=h&hnear=Welford+Rd,+Leicester,+United+Kingdom&z=18

Monday, 8 July 2013

Foxton Locks

Monday 8th July 2013
After using the facilities here for one last time we set off from Market Harborough at about 8.30 heading for Foxton Locks.
There was a boat ahead of us, which had just left its mooring, and we thought that we might have some help at one of the two swing bridges along this section. It wasn't to be, they moored up before the first bridge.
At Foxton Bridge, the first you come to going this way, we met a boat coming the other way, as luck would have it, we arrived first so it was Cath who did the work. The lady from the other boat got off and stood around like a lemon, because there is nothing you can do to help in these circumstances. Instead of just getting back on her boat she waited until Cath closed the bridge, then tried to help by opening the barrier on her side. Unfortunately this caused Cath some problems because she hadn't opened the gate fully and engaged it into its lock so the bridge wouldn't let Cath have her key back and she had to work out why. Oh well, that's life.
We plodded on to the bottom of the locks, and I walked up to book in with the keeper. I found her at the top and she reckoned it would be about 2 hours before we could start up.
As predicted, it was 12.30 before we started up the flight. All went perfectly and the whole thing took just over 30 minutes, a very fast passage indeed.
She had two of the new volunteer lock keepers to help her, and they were excellent .
At the top we stopped to award ourselves an ice cream from the cafe and discuss our next move. We decided to moor up here, just around the corner from the top. Tomorrow we'll motor on to Welford. We've passed the Welford Arm several times now, but never ventured down it, so now's the chance.
Here's where we are:,-0.983427&spn=0.003547,0.010568&t=h&z=17

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Market Harborough

Saturday 6th July 2013
Another fine sunny day again. We set off around 8.30 and were soon through the only lock on the itinerary for today.
We had a lovely lazy cruise along this long pound which leads to the bottom of Foxton Locks, and also Market Harborough.
On the way we passed some lovely scenery, England when the sun shines can be glorious.

At the bottom of Foxton we turned left and continued along the arm leading to Market Harborough. It's a winding bit of canal, with plenty of moored boats on it to keep your speed down.
As we approached the basin at the end all the mooring on the towpath was taken and we wondered if we would get a place in the basin.
When we finally cruised into it we managed to find a slot on the finger mooring in front of the old BW offices. For some time now they have been a hire boat base. I don't know if they lease it or have bought it. The carrot here is that you can plug into power when moored up. I'll do an equalization charge on the batteries while we can.
I took a wander into town this afternoon and took a couple of pics.
This one is the old Grammer School, and is one of the iconic images of the place.

 The River Welland flows through Market Harborough and they seem to have used it to effect.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Towards Saddington Tunnel

Friday 5th july 2013
Summer is once again showing her face. We set off in wall to wall sunshine and it has remained like that all day.
The canal continues to climb, and we've done 10 locks today, climbing all the way, bar one lock to the Saddington Tunnel level. On the way we have traveled through some lovely scenery. The piccy below is of Wistow church, which seems to stand alone in the countryside. It's close the site of a medieval village called Whystowe.
 We moored up just before Kibworth top Lock, leaving us one lock to do tomorrow. We'll then be on the Market Harborough/bottom of Foxton locks level.
 We haven't decided whether to go out for a meal while in Market Harborough, but we probably will.
After tieing up I took the camera out for a walk along the towpath to see if there was anything of interest.
These iris are nearly over now, but they are still quite pretty.
 I find it hard to ignore a view through a bridge hole
 Kibworth Top Lock Cottage is getting some serious extension work done on it.
It's now time to sit and watch Andy Murray in the semis.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

On to Kilby Bridge

Thursday 4th July 2013
Looking at the map yesterday it seemed that we would have to do a longer than normal run today. We needed to reach a service area, and the nearest was 8 miles and 12 locks away.
With that in mind we pryed ourselves out of bed at 6.30 this morning and set off. Cath provided bacon sandwiches on the move for breakfast.
The first lock of the day was Freemans Meadow Lock where there is a picturesque large weir.

I took this picture last year. The fencing has now been removed.
Onward to St. Mary's Mill Lock, where we had just finished cycling it when another boater turned up below, to follow us. I offered to wait at the next lock, but it turned out to be a working boat and butty, and they need a lock to themselves.
As with many locks, Aylestone Mill Lock is approached through a bridge, this frames quite a nice picture.

We continued to work our way up the locks, and with half the distance done, we suddenly discovered that the map book had duplicated several locks when we turned a page. This meant that we had 3 fewer locks to do than originally thought, joy.
We arrived at Kilby Bridge around 1.00 o'clock and started to fill with water. The pressure here isn't too bad and it only took about 40 minutes to fill up. meanwhile I emptied the two cans we had and dumped the rubbish.
While we were doing this, Lamprey an ex FMC motor and butty which had been following us up the locks came past
Once we had finished with the services we pulled across the river and moored up for the night. The weather has been improving all day, and the weatherman has promised a heat wave over the next few days, wonderfull.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013


Wednesday 3rd July 2013
Last evening a boat rocked up here at the Castle Garden Moorings to find that he was too long to fit in what was left of the pontoon after two other boats had joined us through the day.
The boat was none other that "Ocean Princess" with James Griffin at the helm. For those who don't know (I didn't either) this is the narrowboat which he modified to be seagoing, and has taken out into the Atlantic.
We had a quick shuffle around, and he ended up moored on the end with a bit hanging over.
This morning Cath and I set off for a bit of shopping. First call was to John Lewis to try and find a booster cushion for when Daniel comes to visit, and a replacement 'shower bits' holder because the one we have at present has started to go a bit rusty.
We managed to find both of the things we needed, and then carried on into town to find a bus to take us out to the Morrison's supermarket. Before finding the bus we called in at Boots to put in my next prescription request.
On returning from the supermarket I found that Boots could not completely fill my prescription and could I come back tomorrow for them to complete it. This is a bit a nuisance as we intend to move out fairly early tomorrow. They were very helpful when hearing of my need. They rang around other shops in the area, and having found some, the assistant went out and got it. Full marks to Boots for customer service.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


Tuesday 2nd July 2013
Last night we were joined at our mooring by Castleber, a time share boat with a new crew on board. It was their first outing after joining the syndicate, but had hired many times before.
We agreed to share the next few locks for today, we were only going as far as Leicester while they were carrying on a far as they could. This is us at Lime Kiln Lock
We found the Castle Garden Mooring in Leicester to be empty of boats, to our relief, and after tying up I decided to go and have a look at the gas museum so I entered the post code into my Galaxy and wandered into town.
The nav programme guided me unerringly to the given post code, but all I found there was a post office depot.
"Ah yes" said the chap I found in an office, "I get several people a week asking where it is, it's not here."
He did give me some vague directions to where he thought it was, but I didn't bother as I wasn't too convinced of his knowledge of the area.
Another thing I've found is the bus drivers don't seem to know their routes. I asked several of them if they went past Castle Gardens, but got very blank looks, they seem to have never heard of it. After walking back to the gardens I checking the bus stop outside and several of the busses I had queried did, in fact stop at Castle Gardens. It seems that the local drivers don't have any local knowledge!
We plan to stay here tomorrow and do a bit of shopping (possibly even some retail therapy). On Thursday it looks as if we may have a long journey to the next facilities point, and we will definitely need them, we'll be low on water and full of *****.
PS I've now found that the guide book I'm using has a different post code from the website for the museum. It looks like our Nicholson's Guide is a bum steer.

Monday, 1 July 2013

On to Birstall

Monday 1st July 2013
Well, here it is July and what does the weather do? At least it isn't raining, but the wind could die a bit and some of the clouds certainly don't need to be there. That's enough whinging.
Actually it hasn't been a bad day at all. We set off from Barrow this morning just as "Blessed Bee" came around the corner and we shared the next few locks with them.

As we plodded along this section I saw a nice looking bridge around the next corner. But as we got closer it looked like it was disused.

But a closer look showed a cover on the bridge. Looking at the map it seems that the bridge has a conveyer on it. I wonder what it conveys?

The river winds through some lovely countryside here, everywhere you look there is something worth seeing. From pretty weirs

To interesting carvings, like this one at Sileby Lock.
Leaving Junction Lock Blessed Bee took the lead for the first time, when we reached Thurmaston Lock there was already a boat waiting for a partner.  Blessed Bee moored up and then very kindly waved us in. What a gent! When we were through I stayed behind to at least get him into the lock.
Thurmaston was our last lock of the day, we had planned to stop at Birstall and get some milk, leaving us about 8 lock/miles tomorrow to get to Castle Park mooring in Leicester.