Sunday, 31 August 2014

Hatton locks? a piece of cake!

Friday 29th August

Another evening with poor Internet reception, so posting will have to wait. 

With no sign of activity from the only boats pointing our way, we tootled gently up the the bottom of Hatton locks. Anticipating a long hard morning, we only opened one paddle at each set of gates to save our energies.  We dawdled our way along to the second lock, but still with no activity behind us, so we set our faces forward and slowly but steadily up we went.  I missed some lovely damsons near the bottom of the flight, where the locks are widely spaced, as I didn’t have a container – not even a hat – but grabbed one later to get some blackberries along the way.  Dave nipped over to the garage near Ugly Bridge for a paper (he needed to read the report on last night’s Spurs match).  We passed a couple of boats coming down soon after that, but generally it was very quiet – not even any walkers.

But just as we were getting into the swing of locking ahead once the locks were close enough together, a volunteer appeared, closely followed by two others!  and suddenly a load of strollers.  So for the second half of the flight all I had to do was take the rope and wind down the occasional paddle.  Of course we were both fully occupied talking to the gongoozlers with the usual questions.  Here’s a new one though, from one of the children peering down into the cratch in an empty lock – “Could you jump into the boat from here?”  Actually no – the cratch cover was in the way!

Here’s one of the lovely volunteers – I’ve cropped the picture as it was full of children and I don’t  publish photos of kids unless I’ve asked the parents first.


He volunteers at the Napton flight on his other day.  He said they regularly get 60 boats a day on that flight, but only up to 20 at Hatton even when it’s busy.  He thinks it’s to do with the number of hire fleets in the area, which is probably right – there's only Kate Boats at Warwick, and what new hirer is going to want to go up 21 locks on their first day?  Anyway, it was extremely quiet for a Friday in the school holidays – we only passed 4 boats on the flight in total.

After taking on water at the top and emptying a cassette, we were moored up and having lunch an hour earlier than we thought we would be.  By the time we got going again it was chilly and the sun had gone.  Shrewley tunnel was very wet – luckily we were warned by a boat coming through!  The photo shows the northern portal with the towpath tunnel above to the right.  (I don’t think the bridge is really tilted over like that though). 

2 shrewley tunnel 

Although rain was threatening it didn’t come to much, and it was dry enough when we stopped at Rowington for Dave to spend the rest of the afternoon down the engine hole, checking oil, degreasing and generally cleaning up.  After prepping some baking I went off for a run and left him to it.

When I got back I popped the flapjack in the oven and made an apple and blackberry pudding with the blackberries from this morning and windfalls from home.  Yum! 

Wet this evening, but the forecast is better.

21 locks (mostly not done by us), 5 and a half miles, Shrewley tunnel

Friday, 29 August 2014

Bascote locks to The Cape

Thursday 28th August

It rained overnight, but we woke to sunshine and shorts weather again.  We set off for a lovely gentle morning, meting a few boats but not many, and most of the locks in our favour.  At Wood Lock – a peaceful and beautiful spot – there was a planning notice giving advance warning of ‘towpath diversion’ when HS2 blasts its unwelcome way through.  I didn’t have my glasses with me but that seemed to be the gist of it - 3 sheets of closely typed A4 leaning in the hedge.

1 evil HS2 notice wood lock

We stopped at the Fosse Way facilities to empty a cassette.  When we came this way a couple of years ago, the Elsan point was filthy, and the shed thing it was in had cracked tiles on the walls and the door was hanging off – easily the worst I have seen.  I read in the press recently that it had been rebuilt – hurray! – and it’s now open-air and very tidy.  But check out the position of the tap (it’s the black L-shape on the left – I haven’t found out how to add arrows yet!).  It has been set so low that it’s difficult to rinse the cassette, especially now they have removed the hoses on the Elsan points.

2 fosse way elsan with silly tap

At the top Fosse lock we met a hire boat with 5 strong men as crew, so I took a rare photo from inside a lock for a change!

4 fosse top lock

The pound below the Fosse locks was extremely low.  Dave noticed the drag even in the middle of the canal, then we noticed the tide-mark on the edge was easily 8” above the water level.  The shallow bits on the offside were now beaches and we were creating a wake even at the slow speed we were going.  We had seen a CRT guy walking up from the Fosse locks so assumed he had been to investigate.  He wasn’t carrying a windlass (I thought they always had one – we thought he was going to set the lock for us!) and seemed to be on his way back to his van.

3 low pound below fosse locks

We pulled in below Radford Bottom lock hoping to visit the farm shop which had just opened when we came through before, but sadly it is no more.  At least the water level was ok!    So we carried on towards Leamington Spa, and moored in the last bit of countryside before Radford Road bridge for an early lunch, and were hugely entertained by a large groups of swallows and martins over the water.  Some of them were clearly newly fledged and still getting to grips with drinking in flight.

We pressed on towards Warwick as we needed a Tesco stop.  It was chilly and the sun had gone, drizzle was in the air and by the time we were approaching the Tesco mooring at bridge 46 it was raining quite hard.  Their moorings were full but luckily there was space the other side of the bridge.  By the time we had done our shopping the sun was out again and summer had returned once more.

We had company up the Cape locks and there was plenty of room for us both to moor at the Cape.  We had a good meal in the pub and some excellent local beer. Harry’s Haystack I think the bitter was called, brewed in Budbrooke a little way away.

8 locks 7 miles

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Two Gold Stars for Dave

Tuesday 26th August

Having dodged most of the rain on our way up from the South-West, we arrived at Calcutt in warm dry weather, much to our relief.  The plan was to do some jobs today before setting off for Stratford in the morning.  So I left Dave getting on with them and went off for a nice walk with Meg – it’s a hard life!

The first job was to replace the water pump.  It failed while we were in London - luckily we had a spare – and was was still under guarantee.  The replacement finally arrived in the last couple of weeks, and as the spare could well be as old as the boat - 13 years - he thought it best to get the new one fitted straight away.  Once that was done, he replaced the water filter in the galley, then touched up below the gunwales on the port side. 

Finally he drilled out the final hole in the floor under the fridge.  We had been having awful trouble in the hot weather, as the fridge can’t cope unless the batteries are well over half full.  He drilled 2 holes out a few weeks ago, which made a huge difference, and now the cooler weather is on the way the job’s finished!

Here’s our neighbour on the pontoon – the Jam Butty!

1 neighbour at calcutt

The first Gold Star is because poor Dave’s got a rotten cold, but didn’t take to his bed with man flu! 

Wednesday 27th August

We set off around 10 and made for Stockton Locks.  Lovely weather, warm enough for shorts.  There was a single-hander a couple of locks ahead, but he showed no sign of wanting to wait for us.  Luckily, as we left the top lock, we spotted a boat approaching behind us so we waited in the second lock and were soon joined by NB Compton. 

We soon got a good system going, locking ahead (closing up for the single-hander several times), though the gates are heavy and some of the paddle gear very stiff.  I had a couple of good photos of their synchronised lock entry and exit, or thought I had, but my camera is playing up and they didn’t seem to record.

We made good time and were able to moor at Long Itchington for lunch.  After a swift trip to the little shop for some tissues – Dave is still suffering with his cold – we continued to Bascote locks, where we were able to cross with a boat coming up in the staircase.  By the time we cleared the bottom lock we were quite tired, so moored up soon afterwards in a lovely quiet spot.

In spite of still feeling under the weather with his cold, Dave fitted a new tap in the galley.  The hot tap on the old one was hardly working at all, so we have been getting washing-up water in saucepans from the bathroom.  The new one is much neater, with a better water flow from both taps, and the swivel on the spout actually works which the old one didn’t.  So a second gold star for Dave.

14 locks, 5 and a half miles

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Black-bottomed girl goes to Calcutt

The blog for this short trip won’t be posted till we get home as the internet signal has been very slow.  Not to mention that I forgot to bring the cable to download the photos from my camera!

Sunday 10th August

Chuffed spent last week at Heyford Fields having her bottom blacked and a new rudder top bearing fitted.  Dave had to move her off the marina moorings once she was back in the water, but I had family commitments on Saturday so we had to come up to the boat separately this time.  

I came up by train on Sunday, having stayed overnight in London with daughter Liz and her gorgeous cat Miffy.


The tail end of Hurricane Bertha meant there were storms all day but I managed to be in a bus, train or station during most of it!  I did stand out in the rain outside Euston station though, to get a snap of Robert Stephenson, the celebrated railway engineer  It was also outside All Bar One – I don’t specially want to advertise it but check out the reflection in the standing water!

1 robert stephenson at euston station

I had to travel via Stanmore (the end of the Jubilee line) then bus to Hemel Hempstead because of works on the line at Watford.  There was a grand total of TWO passengers on the double-decker!  I wonder how much these buses cost ….. Once I got to Northampton, I caught the bus to Bugbrooke from Northampton and walked back to the boat easily enough – Dave had moved her up the towpath only a few hundred yards from the marina, so not too far to walk!

The weather dried up a bit during the afternoon but the wind kept rocking the boat till evening – when we realised Meg had slipped out of the back and disappeared.  She often tries to go back to retrieve sticks she’s played with during a walk, so we spent 15 minutes or so going in the wrong direction and looking through gaps in the hedge, then went off to hunt in the other direction.  Eventually she turned up halfway back to Bugbrooke – we think she must have enticed the walkers who went by a little earlier to throw sticks for her, and then gone with them. What a relief – we must take more care.

There had been quite a few boats passing once the rain had gone, and none of them had shifted our mooring pins in the slightest. Then Lydia something-or-other went tanking past so fast we had to go out and hammer them in again.  We hadn’t put a second pin through the D-rings, which we probably should have done, but even so Lydia thingy was way out of order.

Monday 11th August

Today dawned bright and sunny, though still with a stiff breeze.  We were away by 9, for the first time for ages with long trousers and jumpers on.  We called in at Stowe Hill Wharf (Rugby Boats) to replace a gas bottle, then at Weedon for a quick trip to the Tesco Express on the main road. We opted for an early lunch before we went up the Buckby flight.  At least, that’s the label on the Nicholson’s map – the text calls them Whilton locks.  Anyway, we were joined by a small privately owned narrowboat whose delightful crew were on their first day and first ever lock.  Dave gave Annie her first locking lesson, and we made good progress, with occasional boats coming down.  We got wet too, with three separate brief but heavy showers with thunder.

2 coming up buckby in the wet

At the top we stopped for water, wondering whether to moor near Norton junction or go on to Braunston and hope there was mooring above the locks.  But once more the heavens opened as we passed the junction and the decision was made for us!

3 norton jct mooring

We walked back to Long Buckby Wharf as the rain eased, with a lovely double rainbow, though the picture doesn’t show it well, and the wind turbine looks like nothing in particular

5 rainbow at norton jct

We sat in the window at the New Inn, watching several evening travellers coming up the lock and enjoyed a pleasant meal.

8 miles 7 locks

Tuesday 12th August

Another sunny, cloudy and breezy start.  We waved to Jaq and Les aboard NB Valerie as we passed them moored a little way further up, and soon caught up with the tail end of a series of boats making for Braunston.  Actually the tail end was rather behind the others, as the steerer was still getting to grips with not over-correcting his steering (I felt his pain).  Here they are entering Braunston tunnel.

6 approaching braunston tunnel

They had a hard time in the tunnel, as three boats came towards us in quick succession and there were several clonks and bangs echoing back towards us.  Thoroughly unsettled, they crept along, though they passed later boats with no trouble, till they could see the end of the tunnel and they gradually got straighter and made better progress.

As we approached the locks, we could see two boats emerging and the boat in front joined another to go on ahead of us.  We were quite pleased, as they had a demented dog yowling inside once they got out of the tunnel!

We were soon joined by a Kate boat with no name – Kate seem to be repainting their older boats, and we’ve also seen one with a completely different livery.  They were experienced hirers, having a great time, and with two boats coming up at every lock we had a swift and easy time of it.  At the bottom lock we had a short wait as we had caught up with the boats in front, and discovered that the poor souls waiting to come up had been queuing for an hour!  We knew Braunston could be busy ……

7 busy braunston

We counted ourselves lucky to get a prime mooring spot near the first marina entrance in time for lunch.  After we’d eaten, Dave went off to Midland Chandlers and I went up to the village for the obligatory Braunston Bangers and a paper (and some cake, as we are running out and I can’t be bothered to bake today). 

8 braunston mooring

When I got back there was no sign of Dave, so I went out with Meg to to see if Graham and Jill on NB Armadillo were in – we’d passed them just before we moored.  So I had a cup of tea and a lovely chat while poor Dave failed to get a new monobloc tap for the galley – Braunston is the only branch of Midland which does not have the one we need in stock! 

We moved on soon after Dave got back, stopping briefly to empty a cassette (in yet another shower) before swinging gently round the junction and heading towards Napton junction in a stiffening breeze and threatening clouds up ahead.  Those 3 arches make it so hard to keep the camera level ….. that’s my story anyway!

9 rounding braunston turn

I thought I’d better take the obligatory snap of the church and neighbouring windmill - a bit straighter, just a slight lean in the opposite direction!

10 leaving braunston

After a few passing showers we moored near Flecknoe, a favourite spot.  We moored there several times some years ago while on Padworth (our share boat) and had to juggle cruising and attending two weddings – in Berkshire and South Wales – as well as collecting our daughters from Leamington Spa station.  As we were based in Calcutt at the time, that was easily sorted as there is a handy layby at bridge 102 (spotted with Google Earth!).  So we shuttled back and forth on the canal (by boat) and the country (by car) and had a wonderful time.

The evening was beautiful as the clouds cleared.

6 locks 7 miles Braunston tunnel

Wednesday 13th August

It was so tempting so stay put on this lovely mooring and get on with some jobs in the sunshine, but we are booked in at Calcutt for a couple of weeks so got going in bright and blustery weather.  I forgot to take a photo last night, so here’s the empty mooring as we left!

11 flecknoe bridge

It’s only a short hop to Napton Junction but there were loads of boats coming towards us – easily in double figures in the hour or so it took. Once down the top lock, Dave reversed neatly alongside the two Calcutt Boats not out on hire, so we could pop into reception and find out where to moor. After going down the remaining two locks and into the marina, we had a bit of a game in the stiff breeze – two passes round the island to spot our mooring, then actually getting into it.  Definitely a day for bow first!  It’s a beautiful marina though, with lovely grounds.

13 meg at calcutt

Just time for an early lunch, then a route march for Dave up to Napton to get the bus to Daventry and a very quick dash to get the connection to Bugbrooke.  The lovely driver dropped him at the marina entrance, and he was back at Calcutt in time for the journey home – nicely timed to beat the rush-hour around Warwick and to allow the traffic around Bristol to dissipate.  Excellent.

Now we’ve really got to get our planning hats on as we haven’t booked anywhere for the winter yet, and want to get down to Stratford as well before the days get too short. 

12 calcutt marina

3 and a half miles, 3 locks.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Bottom blacking time and another failed pub visit

Friday 1st August

A lazy start today as we’re not going far.  We pottered up to Heyford Fields marina to discuss the arrangements for next week with Gary.  The bottom is being blacked, but he will also look at the rudder bearings and the Mikuni, which failed at the start of summer.  We had a chat to one of Tixall’s owners too – we met them at Leighton Buzzard – they moor here and Tixall is coming out of the water a couple of weeks after Chuffed.

2 heyford fields marina

We cruised on to Furnace Wharf, where we turned, and had lunch in the quiet soon afterwards.  We went back down to Bugbrooke in a shower, where we turned again and moored up beyond bridge 35, ready to go into the marina on Sunday.

We strolled into Bugbrooke to find the bus stop for Dave’s trip back to the car tomorrow, visited the shop, then strolled back for a quiet evening in.

6 miles

Saturday and Sunday 2nd and 3rd August

Dave set off at 9 for the bus to Northampton, while I set to and washed the roof, cleaned off the runs on the offside and washed the towpath side.  Meg hung round looking bored till she found a ball and appealed (successfully) to passers-by to play for a while.  I went to chuck a bucket of water into the hedge and she thought I was throwing the ball – cue a soaking wet dog and some vigorous shaking!  It didn’t seem to bother her in the slightest.  I had just cleared up outside and gone in to make coffee when the heavens opened.  Ah well, at least I’d finished.

Meg and I went for a walk via the shop, getting back just before a thunderstorm.  Dave arrived in the marina car park, his trip to Packet Boat and back having gone exactly to plan, and hurried back along the towpath in the rain.  We relaxed with the papers as another storm crashed overhead, and finally as the weather cleared Dave and Meg went off for a walk. 

As the sun came out boats were on the move again.  Two hire boats went past a bit too fast – the first crashing through the trees as they had got their line wrong, then the second, coming the other way, rather than stopping while the first boat extricated themselves, kept coming, and though he had slowed down by the time he reached us was even further in the trees and his expensive rod bag was swept off the roof.  He then executed a precise and gentle reversing manoeuvre to recover it, so he was clearly not short of skills, just chose not to use them to avoid trouble in the first place!

In the evening we thought we’d stroll down to the Wharf to eat.  However, the car park and bars were overflowing so we walked up to the Five Bells where we bought our pints (excellent) before discovering that they only re-opened the day before and the kitchen was not operating yet!  So, hoping that the Wharf would have calmed down we went back, only to find that it was even more packed, with a 60th birthday party in full swing.  So back to the boat for a store-cupboard meal.

On Sunday we cleaned up, moved the boat to the marina, and had an easy drive home in the sunshine.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Canal history, wet tunnel and missing footpath

Thursday 31st July

Apart from our neighbour on the moorings leaving early, there were no boats on the move this morning (apart from us) till after we had gone up the first 5 locks and moored on the long pound.

1 stoke bruerne locks

It was boiling hot.  A volunteer was patrolling and raised bottom paddles for us on his way back up after helping us through the bottom lock.  Apart from a family with a child wanting to help, it was very quiet.  We moored in cool shade behind the historic boats Raymond and Nutfield, ( which were on their way to Blisworth for the festival next week.

6 raymond with nutfield

After admiring Raymond from the towpath, we strolled up to the top of the locks where, after a chat with the volunteer, and a delicious ice-cream from the Boat, we crossed over to the museum.  The trip boat ‘Charlie’ was turning as we crossed over.

3 trip boat turns outside museum

We spent a fascinating hour in the museum.  We were particularly interested in the display about the ‘Idle Women’ who worked the boats the in the war, as we had heard a lot about Emma Smith (author of Maidens’ Trip) talking to Barry (Nb The Slowness of Cows; he has met her) in Paddington Basin on our last trip.  Before we left, we spent a while watching the activity below from the upstairs windows.  The trip boat outside the pub had a wedding party on board!

4 top lock from museum top floor   5 trip boat wedding party outside boat

After lunching on board, we admired Raymond and Nutfield from the water side;

7 raymond with nutfield  8 raymond etc bows

then on to find the two remaining locks thronged with families out for the day.  It was quite a juggling act to ensure the kids all had a turn at helping while staying safe!  I didn’t have to close any gates as 4 or 5 small children were perfectly strong enough to do the work.  We left them waiting to help the two oncoming boats.

9 top lock gongoozlers and helpers

We liked Stoke Bruerne very much.

10 leaving stoke bruerne

At the approach to Blisworth tunnel, we waited for the two trip boats to emerge.  One of the families at the lock had been on one that morning – they go far enough into the tunnel for it to be completely dark when they put the lights out – ‘very exciting!’ - then reverse out before turning at the winding hole.  We were impressed with the boat handling skills of the two skippers.

11 trip boat reverses out of tunnel

We’d heard that the tunnel was ‘a bit damp in places’ – bit of an understatement.  The northern end had cascades of water pouring from the shafts.  I was steering by then and managed to avoid a complete soaking by steering round the worst bits, but Dave just laughed and went below.  That’ll teach me not to get the waterproofs out!  As the tunnel's double width, and there were no other boats in it, we were through in half an hour – much easier than the Harecastle, which so far is the ‘worst’ we have done.  I don’t like tunnels but we may try Standedge next year….

We paused on the Blisworth moorings (already reserved for the festival, but nearly empty), went up to the shop and had a stroll round the pretty village.

13 prettty blisworth

After waiting for a sudden shower to stop, we went on to moor just past Gayton Junction, near bridge 46.  After another heavy shower and a cup of tea, we took Meg for a walk down the Northampton arm.  We considered taking Chuffed down to Northampton itself, but with the A43 along most of the length, and the M1 junction, not to mention the 17 locks each way, we decided against it.  In spite of the traffic noise, it’s a pretty stretch down the locks.  Beyond the lock in the second photo is the M1 exit at junction 15a, but the motorway itself is largely hidden by the trees.

14 northampton arm  16 northampton arm

We intended to walk across to Rothersthorpe, have a pint, and cut back to the boat along another footpath.  As we started off, we spotted this cinnabar moth caterpillar on ragwort – its bright colours warn birds of an unpleasant taste (ragwort is poisonous to grazing animals).

17 cinnabar moth caterpillar

The footpath to the village is easy to follow, and runs across a large field of what we thought was Miscanthus, a very tall quick-growing grass used for biomass in energy production.

18 good footpath to rothersthorpe

Unfortunately the Chequers, although the pub sign is still in place, appears to have been a private house for some time!  We couldn’t find the footpath we wanted, so took the less good option across two thistly scratchy fields – the first with sheep, the second with cows and calves.  I went one way with the dog in the cow field, prepared to let her go if necessary, and Dave went another – luckily they didn’t like the look of him and went off to the other side. (A couple of days later I saw a short news item about a walker in Austria who had been trampled by cattle as she crossed their field).  This footpath was not well signposted, and was not in the best of condition, though we unexpectedly came across a pretty pond at one point.

20 poor footpath from rothersthorpe  19 unexpected pond

We went wrong at one point, and we ended up walking a mile more than intended.  Meg enjoyed it though.

2 and a half miles, 7 locks, Blisworth tunnel

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Parklife, the Funion Bargee and Elderly Ducks

Tuesday 29th July

The first boat went by at 6am, and by the time we moved off at 9.30 the moorings above the top lock were almost deserted after being chock-a-block last night.  There were a couple of boats coming up and one waiting to go down, so we had a chatty and easy passage.  Our companions had been eating outside the Three Locks last night when two boats were waiting in the (full) middle lock for two boats to come down the (full, of course) top lock, and when the paddles were opened the pound (also full) couldn’t take any more and there was a flood.  All under perfect control this morning though!1 bottom soulbury lock outside 3 locks pub

The Three Locks was just opening up as we filled the bottom lock.  Even though we didn’t eat there last night we walked down later for a drink.  We went inside as it was quite cool by then, and were quietly enjoying a pint when a guy came in with an English bulldog.  It was quite keen to meet Meg but she took fright and hid under the table – she’s never done that before.  It didn’t appear threatening to us at all (although it was very ugly, and the poor thing’s eyes were bulging and bloodshot), but Meg clearly felt menaced – so much so that the guy behind the bar came round with a handful of biscuits for her.  So we highly recommend the Three Locks as dog-friendly!

We shared Stoke Hammond and Fenny Strafford locks too, then stopped for lunch near bridge 87, at the start of the parks that adorn the canal as it passes round Milton Keynes.  Before we set off again Dave took Meg for a stroll under the shade of the avenue, but even so she was panting when they got back because she loves to run so much.

We wanted to moor at Campbell Park, having heard so much about it, but the moorings were crowded and we had to squeeze in on the Newlands (towpath) side, just past the end of the offside moorings.  There was a lot of noise from the roads but the parks were lovely.  These avenues are a feature of the parks on the towpath side and make for a lot of cool shade.

2 avenue newlands park MK

Once it had cooled down, Dave did a variety of small touch-up paint jobs and I took Meg around the Newlands park.

3 newlands park MK  4 meg enjoys the shade newlands park

I went for a run later on taking in Campbell Park too – the towpath side parks are much better I think.

8 miles, 5 locks

Wednesday 30th July

In spite of the forecasts, the weather is continuing to be very hot and humid.  We pulled pins at 9.30 and wound our way round the edge of Milton Keynes.  We paused for water at the Giffard Park services, arriving just before 2 other boats (phew!).  There is a community play boat moored there with the fabulous name of the Funion Bargee!

2 Funion Bargee at Giffard Park

On we went, noting the excellent moorings near bridge 75 for later use, to the moorings for Tesco at Wolverton. There is a brilliant and very long mural painted on the wall under the railway line -

 3 mural wolverton  5 mural wolverton

The rings were all taken so Dave reversed back to the Armco and we tied up there.  It was a bit of a trek up to Tesco, but we needed quite a few things so needs must.  On the way back we saw evidence of Wolverton’s railway history in the form of this weathervane opposite Asda (wolves as well as a steam train)

7 wolverton weather vane

and a couple of imaginative sculptures of running children holding toy trains.  This one was not only mounted on two sections of old track, but was constructed of small gauge track (bigger than Hornby Dublo but don’t know precisely what!)

8 railway sculpture


We had lunch with the trains rumbling overhead and went on over the Great Ouse aqueduct with its lovely views down below. No barrier on the offside!

10 great ouse aqueduct  11 great ouse aqueduct

We didn’t stop at Cosgrove; we have to get to Heyford Fields marina on Friday to make the arrangements for bottom–blacking next week and still leave time to visit Stoke Bruerne, so we are having to give it a miss this time.  However, we could admire Solomon’s bridge as we passed though.

13 solomans bridge cosgrove14 solomans bridge cosgrove

We loved this sign before Kingfisher Marina at Thrupp Wharf – the wittiest ‘slow down’ request we have seen!

 15 slow old ducks

We moored up below Stoke Bruerne locks – no shade but at least the side hatch was on the shady side, though we had to slacken the ropes to open it because of the height of the bank.  Later on we took Meg and walked up the locks, passing the noisy and crowded Navigation to the relatively peaceful (and dog-friendly) Boat where we had a pint and a good meal.

12 miles 1 lock