Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Northants, Beds & Bucks

We returned to the boat on Sunday 24th August after I had spent a week with Mum whilst she was recuperating from her hip op.  Although it was a serious business helping her to manage with reduced mobility and sorting out the endless appointments & medication she needed, I have to say there were a few funny moments,  Like when I attended Mum's lunch club & got told off for helping to clear away the plates as I might bump into somebody & cause an accident.  I was the youngest by at least 20 years and am steady on my feet (well at least before I've had a tot).  Also when Mum telephoned me when I'd gone to the local shop because she'd remembered what else she'd needed.    " What's that Mum, I'm still in the shop" I said.  "I've forgotten" said Mum.  I laughed out loud, startling the poor lady in the shop.  Luckily Mum saw the funny side too.  Anyway I'm pleased to report that she is doing great and has progressed to a walking stick and is managing on her own with occasional visits from the family.

Sunday we reloaded the boat, filled her with water & fuel and generally sorted ourselves out.  Monday it poured with rain so we stayed put at Crick & set off Tuesday morning along the Grand Union Leicester section.

Waiting under the M1
As we arrived at the Watford locks it appeared everybody had done the same and we joined a queue of 10 other boats! 

Watford Flight (Northamptonshire)
 Luckily there were some very helpful volunteers to speed up the process.

Soon after turning off onto The Grand Union proper at Norton Junction, Blissworth Tunnel came into view.  The third longest navigable tunnel in Britain, 3076 yards long and it takes 30 - 40 minutes to pass through.  

Inside Blissworth Tunnel (the plants in the foreground are on the front of our boat)
Very eerie, especially when you pass another boat.

Leaving the tunnel. It took 12 years to build, being opened in March 1805.  No machinery to do the job in those days.  Once opened the boats had to be 'legged' through and as there was no towpath through the tunnel for the horses, they had to be walked over the top.

Next stop Stoke Bruerne where we met up with Dave & Grace who had driven over from Ely to spend the day with us. 

 After a satisfying lunch in The Boat we retired to Aylmer for drinks in the sunshine.

Another interesting tunnel is to be found at Cosgrove, although this one runs under the canal.  It was built 250 years ago to get the horses, which towed the boats, from the towpath side to the stables at the Barley Mow pub on the opposite bank. It's hard to believe horses managed to get through such a small space!

The Iron Trunk Aqueduct, built in 1811 as the fourth attempt to carry the Grand Union Canal 35 feet above the river Ouse. .

Thought I'd seen it all.  Complete with rabbit hutches!

At Soulby Locks we met up with Mick, Val & Marley on nb Gorse and travelled together for a couple of days.

Val, my locking partner, made it so much more fun.

Marley pays a visit
We stopped overnight at Slapton Locks, near to Cheddington where in 1963 the Great Train Robbery was carried out. 

We passed through some beautiful Buckingham countryside.

And saw a rainbow over Bedfordshire.

We said goodbye to Mick & Val at Cooks Wharf and continued on to Marsworth where we moored for the night and looked out at this glorious view from the rear deck.  A beautiful end to another week in paradise :)

Sunday 31st August 2014
679 miles - 441 locks

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