Slugs! 13th September

Adam’s favourite mooring to above Stoke Hammond Lock

Today I had some work to do, a meeting with the Production Manager for panto via zoom. We could stay put until after my meeting or we could cruise whilst I was on line. The later option was chosen as for most of the day we’d be on the flat going round Milton Keynes, we just needed to get through Cosgrove Lock before 10:00.


We pushed off around 8:15 and cruised our way towards the lock. The hedges at Thurpp Wharf Marina are too high now to have a good nosy so we had to wait to pass the entrance to be able to wave to NB Briar Rose.

A unique paint job

Approaching Soloman Bridge we passed a few moored boats, one that we’ve seen before NB Home which has quite a paint job.

Are the houses close to the bridge new? With sand bags shoring up the bank.

As we rounded the bend towards the lock we could see a Black Prince boat heading the same way. They over shot the lock and it looked like they would be winding if they didn’t carry on too far. I hopped off at the narrows and Mick pulled Oleanna back to give them room, another boat was just coming into the lock, good job we’d left half an hour earlier than we’d originally planned.

Boats everywhere!

Everyone seemed to be waiting for everyone else. So I suggested the Black Prince boat got on with winding as the lock finished filling and Mick held back. The lock needed a bottom paddle closing and then everyone could be on their way.

The Great Ouse before it gets it’s greatness

Crossing over the Ouse Aqueduct we glanced downstream, towards Bedford and our time on the Great Ouse this summer.

A giant slug?!

As we approached Galleon Wharf we could see a strange thing on the bank by the warehouses. Was this a giant slug? All glistening and muddy brown. Two orange boats were in the water and then Mick spotted several dark floating things taking over about two thirds of the canal, no buoys marking them bobbing just at the surface. Were they sucking silt out from the canal bed into the giant slugs? We don’t remember seeing a notice about this, but then C&RT waters have been off our radar for a while. We tried asking a boater if he knew what was going on, it was very hard to hear his reply as mounds of aggregate were being moved around. But something about the warehouses being knocked down and two houses being built. A later hunt round on-line suggests that planning permission had been refused for a scheme of 14 new houses.

Time for me to head below and set up for my meeting. With working drawings at the ready I signed into zoom and Gemma and I worked our way through the model pieces I’d sent and drawings. Most things were self explanatory, but the rostra for the gangplank took some explaining as to how it sat, a bit like trying to brush your hair in a mirror for the very first time! Tomorrow Gemma heads to the builders to hopefully come back with a price for the build.

The big pond full of water again

I was back up on deck after we’d passed Great Linford. Today, when we didn’t want it, there was mooring space. The works around the pond and new footpaths haven’t quite been finished yet, but from Mick’s photos its starting to look smart again.

Every now and then there seemed to be new artworks along the banks of the canal. Had we seen the horse before? A very colourful bench with a waterside theme. Oriental inspired paintings of waterfowl under a bridge.

A small mouth full

A Heron stood at the bow of a boat watching the water be pulled along by our approach. It just dabbed it’s head into the water and came out with a fish, which it dually swallowed and we had chance to watch the fish wriggle down it’s neck!

One day Bedford will be that way

There’s a new pub at Campbell Wharf Marina , still having bits of work done to it. The marina certainly looks full. Three moorings are taken up by widebeams, between them we could just see where the Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway will be one day. Back in July when we reached the head of navigation on the Great Ouse we were only 11 miles away as the crow flies. Instead we’ve cruised 198.71 miles or there abouts! The link through would have saved us nearly two months.

New mooring signs

It took four hours to skirt round Milton Keynes, from the Ouse Aqueduct to Fenny Stratford Lock. Lots of moored boats, new mooring signs limiting stays to 2 days during the summer months. We found these a touch odd as unless marked mooring times during winter change to 14 days, so why bother adding from April to September on these signs? One thing is for sure, C&RT are wanting boats to move around in Milton Keynes. For once we’d have had no difficulty mooring at Campbell Park, but of course we didn’t want to stop today.

Approaching Fenny Stratford we looked out for a figure sat in an arm chair by the window of the first house and waved. There is nearly always someone sat there who will wave back with a big smile on their face.

Fenny Stratford Lock

The bridge needed swinging at the lock and some water emptying out of it’s not so deep chamber. We’d now started our ascent towards Cowroast. We swapped over with a hire boat making sure they knew about the swing bridge, then carried onwards.

Stoke Hammond Lock

A confirmation notice of our appointment came through, we definitely have to keep up the pace south bound now. Three more miles and we were at the lovely Stoke Hammond Lock, the first of the proper uphill locks. Here red roses still in bloom surround the sign, wonderful.

What a .lovely rose

We pootled on almost at our destination for the day, pulling in to a vacant space half a mile on. Here Tilly could head off to explore and we could enjoy a very late lunch. Why oh why does Milton Keynes take soooooo long to cruise through?!

3 locks, 16.76 miles, 1 swing bridge, 1 bottle neck, 1 hour zoom, 11 miles or 198, 12 emails, 1 confirmation, 2.75 hours shore leave, 1 bright red rose, 2 boaters ready for bed early, 20 years of remembering Peter.