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!
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.
Once it had cooled down, Dave did a variety of small touch-up paint jobs and I took Meg around the 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!
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 -
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)
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!)
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!
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.
We loved this sign before Kingfisher Marina at Thrupp Wharf – the wittiest ‘slow down’ request we have seen!
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