Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Spring sunshine and icy winds

Wednesday 26th April; Campbell Park to Yardley Gobion

We left Campbell Park and followed the twists and turns of the canal round the edge of Milton Keynes, freezing cold in the windy bits and warm where it was more sheltered.  We saw a man with surveying equipment at one point; he said he was carrying out a survey of all the parks in Milton Keynes.

1 surveying all MKs parks apparently

The service point at Giffard Park was free so we topped up the water and emptied a cassette.  But the rubbish skip has gone.  There are litter bins outside the One Stop shop but you’re not supposed to put boat rubbish there, so I didn’t, but I did dispose of a couple of plastic milk bottles and some newspaper in one of the two empty recycling bins next to them.

We saw the electro-fishers again this morning.  This time they were in action and though I didn’t manage to get a photo of one netting a zander they were catching plenty.

4 electro fishing

An interesting catch was made by this heron.  He took off with a very large fish and landed heavily on the bank where he tried to deal with it.

  12 big fish

He didn’t like us coming along to disturb him and took off to land in a tree.  The last we saw he was still struggling to swallow his lunch.

13 trying to swallow

We moored in a brief hailstorm at the aqueduct end of the Cosgrove visitor moorings for lunch, which was a warming chicken soup made from the carcase of a roast we had at the weekend.  After the showers had passed over, Meg and I went down the steps of the aqueduct for a bit of a walk.  She had found the wind too cold while we cruised and had been tucked up inside all morning. 

The aqueduct we cross today is the fourth that was attempted and opened in 1811.  Known as the Grand Trunk aqueduct, it is the oldest iron trough aqueduct on a broad canal.  The embankments either side of the river crossing were built of compacted earth and stone, with all the material being barrowed by navvies – it has been calculated that the equivalent of 2,200,000 barrows of earth was moved, though I hope it was partly transported by horse and cart.  But the final placement of it would all have been done by those men and their shovels.  The Great Ouse is merely a large stream at the moment as there has not been much rain – though the debris caught in the branches six feet higher showed it must be quite a sight when in spate.  It’s impossible to see in the photo, but I’m fairly sure the fish I saw holding its position in the shallow water was a trout.

18 great ouse maybe a trout

In one direction the path takes you towards the caravan park, but if you go the other way you will find a tunnel under the canal.  Like the one at Cosgrove village, it was built for humans and cattle, not horses.  The tiny figure at the far end is Meg.

21 from south with dog

There is a better view of the aqueduct from the south side.

20 from south

The electro-fishers passed us while we were still moored.  I asked them how a current big enough to stun a zander doesn’t kill the small fry or upset the ducks. 

23 electro

The answer is that the current only reaches a little way from the traily bits and stops the fish swimming for just long enough to be netted.  The little ones soon recover and swim away – there would be no point in removing the zander if the native fish were harmed in the process.

There was a boat on the Cosgrove lock mooring with a very apologetic owner waiting for RCR.  His  gear cable broke (he thought) while he was in the lock, but the moorings were full so he had to stay on the lock landing.  We were soon out heading into the wind again and carried on until our faces were just too cold to continue, and moored in the Yardley Gobion area.  Inside we basked in the sun streaming in the windows – a far cry from the chilly weather outside!  But we had to light the fire as soon as the sun went behind the trees.

1 lock, 10 miles, 1 aqueduct

Total this trip; 89 miles, 65 broad locks, 2 tunnels, 2 large aqueducts, 4 swing bridges

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