Saturday 13th October
Now we’re well into autumn weather and so we did an early start from home as the forecast for today was reasonable good.
By the time we’d left Cosgrave and reached Wolverton the sun was coming out although the chill wind remained to remove any thoughts of an Indian summer ;^) I do like the new statues that have appeared outside the flats there. I didn’t manage to photograph the train one on the other side of the cut as Brenda didn’t point it out to me before we were too far away. As this one features bicycles I wonder if there used to be a cycle factory here in the past. The run down through Milton Keynes was un-eventful with very little traffic heading North to un-expectantly meet in bridge-holes. The MK area always has the same boats using the 14 day moorings, they just move up and down between Black Horse and Fenny. On our way north in August we moored next to a wide beam whose owner bragged that her range was Cosgrove to Water Eaton. We were amused when we passed this novel adaptation of a roof box, it has been fitted with a pseudo-cannon that has a tunnel lamp installed in the end.
We stopped at Willowbridge marina for a diesel fill and three replacement gas bottles. A combination of seven days in Paddington basin as well as letting others use Jannock as accommodation whilst she was at her home mooring this summer has certainly increased the gas consumption this year. I had seen a diesel boat in MK that was a lot cheaper than Willowbridge but not having cash with me meant I had to pay the premium to use a card.
As we were leaving Willowbridge, a boat was passing so we thought Hooray, we can share Stoke Hammond lock with them. Imagine our dismay when we approached Stoke Hammond to find one boat going in through the bottom gates and our possible companion about to enter after them. This emotion was immediately replaced by elation when they managed to both fit into the right-hand side of the lock and allowed us to enter on the left. Three in a lock – looking at the sizes of the boats I would not have imaged it possible. All three boats needed to enter through the left-hand gate and then the shortest one could reverse in behind the right-hand gate and let the other one pull in front of it.
This worked so well that Brenda and I cancelled stopping at Stoke Hammond wharf as planned and proceeded to share all of the Soulbury locks with these two as well. A gongoozler, sat outside the pub at the Three locks with his pint, was so intrigued by what we were doing that he walked slowly up the towpath alongside the locks to observe our procedure. What an interesting end to an otherwise un-eventful day.
Saturday 20th October
A cold and misty start today for the run from Soulbury to Marsworth. We had Margaret, our neighbour, as crew because she needed cheering up after a couple of bereavements during the last week. Luckily there was very little wind and it became quite warm once the sun came out. Guess which fool left his camera at home – Doh!
I was surprised at the amount of free space on the visitor moorings outside Tescos in Linslade, these are usually very busy on a Saturday. The usual collection of parents with small children were there feeding the masses of ducks that gather knowing they’ll get a good feed. Unusually, I did not get the lock wheeling bike off of the roof until we made it to Ivinghoe locks and I returned it there after the Seabrook swing bridge – it’s so much easier when you have an extra member of crew.
We made it to Marsworth in time for me to use the Di Blasi to fetch the car before it got dark. On my return we ate dinner, washed up and then picked our way along a very dark and muddy towpath to go home.
Margaret wrote in the log book “ A very quiet tranquil day – not many people about. The light on the water would have inspired Monet, I think. Plus I have several photographer friends who would have reached for their cameras. It’s definitely autumn! The leaves are turning colour and the nights are drawing in ….. A cold misty start to the day and a cold and very dark end.” Nice to bring a bit of class to this blog.
Thursday 25th October.
Autumn happened last night and this was what we found when we arrived at the boat. The Marsworth yard development has started with most of the old concrete works now gone, at least they’ve got to leave the old office building intact in the new planning permissions. The bottom lock at Marsworth was set in our favour, and having waited for a while, we set off solo up the flight. Once through the bottom lock I was working ahead on the bike, setting the next lock as Brenda brought Jannock into the last. I’d then return and work her through before doing the same again. A passing dog walker warned me of a boat coming down the flight being assisted by volunteer BW lockies. I had left the bottom gate of lock 43 open whilst we worked up through 44 only to find the one of the BW ‘lockies’ had turned 43 when we came round the corner to use it. There was no sign of the northbound boat as it wasn’t even at lock 42 yet. He offered to turn it again but the water level in the pound above was so low that it would be a silly move so we just tied Jannock onto the lock landing and waited …. and waited …. and waited until they arrived. I even had time to drink the cup of tea that Brenda made whilst waiting before they were through the lock. One of the volunteers offered to help us up the rest of the flight but I said that wasn’t necessary as all the locks were now in our favour. “I know these locks” he replied “they’re very leaky”. I assured him that I was certain that they leaked more through the bottom gates than they did through the top and we carried on alone with no troubles at all, each bottom gate swung open without a paddle needing to be lifted and Margaret closed up the gates after Jannock had passed through whilst I went ahead.
Once across the summit, through a very autumnal Tring cutting, we then had two swans who decided they would like to share Cowroast lock with us. Then out came the bike again for the rest of the journey down to Bourne End. I do like this section as the locks come frequently and it gives me a good exercise. As I arrived at Raven’s Lane lock there was a single hander setting it so we shared that and Rising Sun locks with him before he stopped at the water point by the garage below. The towpaths down to the mooring from Berko were very wet and muddy so I had to be careful where I put the bike once we were at Sewerage Lock. It’s funny when people say they are going boating and then spend most of the trip on a bicycle – but I enjoy it.
Once securely tied up at the home mooring, I went back to Marsworth to collect the car whilst Brenda cooked a spaghetti bolognaise to be eaten on my return. We didn’t manage to get Margaret to write anything in the log book this time ;^(
Oh, and the other bit of news – as we reached the top of Marsworth flight, Jannock’s engine hour counter clocked 10,000 hours. That’s almost a year and a half with the engine running during her sixteen year life. Go Jannock!