Sunday 15th August 2009
Off fairly early, as we could see that there were a lot of boats pointing in the same direction as us, we wanted to be away before the rush. At the first lock, there was a man who was looking at how it all worked. As I filled the lock he was asking advice about the whole process. It turned out that he had come out of Gayton Marina the previous day, and this was the first lock that he had really looked at. He was working out what he would need to do when he brought his boat down to the lock later. I gave him some advice, showed him how to wind the paddles, and told him to take it easy and not get rushed by anyone. A sensible move on his part I think, the Stoke Bruerne flight is quite daunting for a complete beginner.
In the second lock we met "Keeping Up" with the CHESHIRE Jones'. They knew a bit about the 'other' "Keeping Up", and said that they had met Allan and Debbie briefly.
We fairly quickly caught up another boat, which waited for us in the next lock. The pounds were very full, so that when the paddles were drawn at the bottom of one lock, the water was flooding around beside the top gates of the next lock down. A BW lengthman appeared and ran what seemed like vast quantities of water down through the locks. He told me that he had done the same only two hours before, and that the pound had been OK then. When I asked why it had happened he said that there must have been a lot of boats going down - however, we were the first boat down the whole flight that morning, the other one having come from the long pound below the second lock down.
We carried on through the long pound below Stoke Bruerne, spotting both the Cheese Boat, and the Fudge Boat.
The Fudge Boat
The Cheese Boat
Long lock-free miles through Milton Keynes, with a brief stop at the Mega-Tesco at Wolverton. We stopped at Yardley Gobion for fuel, and saw the inspection launch Kingfisher, being prepared.
We were hoping to meet up with Sue1946 from the Canal World Forum, and were waiting on a phone call from her as we approached Soulbury three locks. We came under a bridge and saw her waiting on the towpath, she had mislaid our phone numbers and had come out on the off-chance, knowing that we would be passing through that way.
We had planned to stop below the locks anyway, so we moored up and spent a very pleasant evening chatting, eating cake, and trying on the 'boatman's bowler'. Kingfisher came and moored up next to us. We talked until well after dark, then walked Sue up the towpath to her car with our lantern.
Miles: 22.0, Locks: 10
Total miles: 373.0, Total locks: 361
Scenes from the museum
14 hours ago